Posted by Nick Aroutzidis on Nov 24, 2018
November 29, 2018: Dr. Miriam Klassen, “Marihuana update”, Doug Thompson will introduce, and Al Wakelin will thank our speaker. 

Head Table:  Our President Paul Roulston, invites, Doug Thompson,  Peter Maranger, Marcia, Clarence McCallum, Jerry McEwin, Lynn McKone and Bruce McLaren, to join him at the head table.

Today at Rotary:   Celebrating 45 years, the Blyth Festival has come a long way from its humble beginnings in a Clinton, Ontario farmhouse. The primary focus of the festival however has not changed; its purpose is to develop and produce Canadian plays.
 
Guess speaker Gil Garratt from Blythe Festival talking about the origin on their Festival, upcoming play list and their hit play “Pigeon King”
 
Two productions were mounted in the inaugural 1975 season, `Mostly in Clover` a new Canadian play written by Harry J. Boyle and The Mousetrap, Agatha Christie’s classic. The Mousetrap was staged in order to fill the seats and keep the lights on as it was considered a sure bet to sell tickets.  Mostly in Clover was an unknown quantity that the producers hoped would be accepted.  To everyone’s surprise The Mousetrap bombed while Mostly in Clover was a sell-out success.  This was a huge lesson learned, the message from the audience was clear – “you tell our stories and we will support the place.” To date Blyth has produced 135 World Premier’s and has sold over 26,000 tickets.
 
Today’s speaker, Gill Garratt, became the Artistic Director in 2014.  Gill is a playwright, dramaturge and director who has been active at Blyth for a number of years. Gill is a dynamic speaker who is proud and passionate about his work. 
 
Gill was asked to speak about their 2017 production of the play The Pigeon King. The Pigeon King is a fascinating, true, local story of a con man who in 2001 bilked his neighbours and friends out of a staggering amount of money.  He developed a $40M Ponzi scheme based on pigeon breeding for the Saudi royal family.  Eventually the whole thing collapsed but not before ruining a lot of people.
 
In their research for the play the creators talked to the police, the crown attorney and many of the people directly involved.  In fact, at the start of their investigations no one injured in this scam wanted to talk.  Gill sent out a letter to those directly involved assuring them that Blyth was a voice of advocacy for the community and eventually people started to come forward with their stories.
 
The Pigeon King was a huge success, one of Blyth’s biggest hits.  Part of the reason for its success was that seeing the play was a release, a catharsis for those hurt in the scheme.  One father, who had convinced is son to invest $125,000  just three months before it ended and his son therefore lost it all, came to see the play and felt so much better after seeing it that he let all his friends know that they should see the play.  It is important to know that people who fell into this scheme were not fools, they were desperate and that desperation speaks to the state of farming in many parts of the country. The Pigeon King is being remounted and opening in April of 2019 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. 
 
Gill’s final words were an overview of the Blyth Festival’s 2019 Season:
 
Jumbo the Elephant – the story of Jumbo, the Barnum & Bailey Circus and Jumbo’s untimely demise in St. Thomas, Ontario.
 
Cake-Walk – a remount of one of Blyth’s best-loved shows about a local baking contest.
 
Team on the Hill – written by Dan Needles this play is about dealing with the survival of family farm.
 
 
In Wake of Wettlaufer – a compassionate look at a tragedy.  A life affirming play that deals with the changing face of elder healthcare.
 
Bed and Breakfast – when a couple, Brett & Drew, sell their condo in Toronto and set up a B&B in small town Ontario.
 
It promises to be a terrific season!
 
The Blyth Festival also features:
  • Professional Art Gallery
  • Community Orchestra
  • Community Choir
  • Young Company
 
Scribe: John D. Wright
 
 
Our newest member Rhonda Lee Read, Artist, Writer  and performer brought in  by Wendy Wilkinson.  Rhonda also gave a donation to the Rotary Club.
 
Rotarian Walt Bathe reminding us of Aquabox  build Saturday morning, announcing the start of their Aquabox fund raising letter campaign and proudly stating their program has purified 50 million liters of water.
 
Blythe Festival building in Blythe
 
 
Visiting Rotarian Friday Elape from Nigeria
 
 
Guests:  Today we welcomed, James Simon, Rotary Club of Etobicoke, Mark Winsin, Rotary Club of Etobicoke, R.L. Read, Stratford (introduced as a new member today), Dr. Tony Read, Stratford, Megan Arnold, St. Mike’s, Stratford, Hailey Schoonerderwoerd, St. Mike’s, Stratford, David Shantz, St. Mike’s, Stratford, Chris Simmons, St. Mike’s, Stratford, Myrna Inglis, Rotary Club of Wakerton Friday Huckbay, Nigeria
 
 
Draw: Draw donated by Gil Garret, our guest speaker from the Blyth Festival, Gift certificate for 2019 season and won by Roger Black
 
Glass table donated by Lee Hunt for next weeks foundation Draw. Tickets $5
 
Make-ups: No report. 
 
November’s Attendance Committee: Jim Young (I/C), Marcia Matsui, Dave Skinner, Philip Schroeder, Gerry Thuss, Sue Wakelin, Clark Mitchell, Carolyn Blackburn.