Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre has blasted through the restrictions of COVID-19 to make a locally-inspired radio drama that is tons of fun.
Hector the Spectre Steals the Show is a six-part weekly series on radio and online about the Bauer Theatre’s legendary ghost Hector.
The story, written by FAST artistic director Andrea Boyd and Antigonish artist/playwright Laura Teasdale, is theatre-about-theatre with lots of funny references to Festival Antigonish, Nova Scotia theatre and theatrical traditions in general.
The 10-minute episodes are inspired by real stories told by artists and others of encounters with Hector over the last 30 years.
Kevin Curran is the voice of the unhappy Hector, a usually benign ghost upset by rehearsals for a “come-from-away” play, Blue Nun and Red Priest, about ghosts other than him. As he says,. “Hell hath no fury like a spectre scorned.”
The cast is also upset by their extravagant, “come-from-away” director who wants to blow the budget and change the script.
Hector tries to disrupt the production as the lead actors, playing the nun and a priest, spice up their relationship on and off stage despite dire warnings of the pitfalls of the “showmance.”
The more you know about Antigonish, Festival Antigonish and theatre in Nova Scotia the greater the fun but even if you don’t this witty, playful production is a great lift at a time when theatres are dark.
FAST decided to go back to the golden age of radio as a way to produce theatre when the pandemic forced postponement of the 2020 season to 2021.
“We wanted to create something theatrical that would connect us to our community but online theatre didn’t seem right for us,” says Boyd. “Producing a radio play means we can have high production values, our audience can be entertained without the stress of yet more ‘screen time,’ and anyone can listen to it regardless of their internet speed or access.
“It was also important to us to push our creative boundaries and provide work for theatre artists at a time when the industry is hurting, so we wrote this play for the actors who were originally cast in our main stage shows.”
The play features the voices of Nova Scotia actors Francine Deschepper, Curran, Josh MacDonald, James MacLean, Liliona Quarmyne, and Laura Teasdale. (The lines were pre-recorded then spliced together by a sound engineer.) Non-actors like FAST technical director Ian Pygott and managing director Reema Fuller are also heard from during the show.
While the last live radio episode airs Oct. 14 on the community radio station 98.9 XFM, Hector the Spectre Steals the Show is available anytime online and is linked to the FAST website (www.festivalantigonish.com) for the next two months at least.
The podcast link is: https://audioboom.com/channels/5032826 (you can subscribe through your preferred podcast service)
The project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund, in partnership with Community Foundations of Canada, and the Rural Communities Foundation of Nova Scotia. It is supported by the Town of Antigonish and the Municipality of the County of Antigonish.
As a summer repertory theatre FAST has run for over three decades and has a patron base of over 8,000 people.