Lots of Historical Entertainment

Starting September 21 and continuing to November 11, Cobourg will be treated to entertainment based on the anniversaries of two events: the end of World War 1 and the birth of Cobourg’s star comedienne Marie Dressler.  The events billed as Armistice 18 commemorate the 100th anniversary of the WWI Armistice and consist of a musical Gala, two plays, a play reading, three speakers and a special exhibit at the Art Gallery of Northumberland (AGN).  Not all the original plans came to fruition but most have (see link below).  Around the same time, Marie Dressler Foundation is celebrating Marie’s 150th birthday with speakers, a gala dinner, a public birthday celebration and an exhibit at the Art Gallery.  Chair Rick Miller has put together a promotional video for these events – it features several of Cobourg’s Mayors (see below).

Armistice 18

Last Day Last Hour
Last Day Last Hour

The Armistice 18 events are kicked off with a gala on September 29 at Cobourg’s United Church although the first play Mary’s Wedding starts its run on September 21.  The Gala features the Elora Singers, live narration and a multi-media show with a reception after.  Mary’s Wedding is a romance set in World War I and is at the Firehall Theatre.  But it seems to me that the “main event” is the play Last Day, Last Hour: Canada’s Great War On Trial which is staged in Victoria Hall’s Old Bailey Courtroom just as the trial depicted was held in 1928. It starts October 19.  The trial heard a libel case brought by Canada’s General Currie against a Port Hope Newspaper who had accused him of needlessly allowing soldiers to die on the last day of the war.  I’d guess this one will sell out.

There will also be a play reading of The Stars on Her Shoulders starting October 18.  It’s about nurses in World War I and efforts to get them recognized for their bravery.

Throughout this time, the AGN will have an exhibit of art relating to WWI and there will be 3 speakers (with free admittance):  Canadian historian and author Jack Granatstein on October 14, historian at Canada’s War Museum Tim Cook on October 21 and historical writer Charlotte Gray on October 28.

The last event fittingly is on November 11 – details of that have not yet been announced.

Marie Dressler

Two speakers will be talking about Women in Hollywood on September 14: 1) Matthew Kennedy, writer and film historian and 2) Cari Beauchamp, award winning author. They will honour the pioneering work by Marie with their talks about Women in Hollywood over the years. (Tickets available here.)

On September 29, there will be a fund-raising gala dinner with a theme of the 30’s.  It’s called Dinner at Eight after the movie that was one of Marie Dressler’s big hits (co-starring Jean Harlow with John and Lionel Barrymore).  There will be a live orchestra and Dinner at Eight will be shown to finish the evening. More here

The Art Gallery of Northumberland will also have an exhibition that shows Marie’s connection to Cobourg.

It’s Opening Reception will be held on Saturday, September 8 at 2:00 pm at the AGN and the exhibition will run until November 10. During this time, there are a number of special presentations that are also free to the public.

Date Time Speaker Topic
Sept. 15 2:00 pm John Kraus Music and Cinema
Sept. 23 2:00 pm Olex Wlasenko Art Deco: High Style for a Jazz Age
Sept. 27 7:00 pm Antonio Sarmiento Stage and Cinema: Why some work and some don’t
Oct. 4 7:00 pm Jordan Klapman How I accompany Silent Films

On Marie’s actual birthday, November 9, there will be a public celebration outside Victoria Hall.

The Video below helps explain the importance of Marie Dressler and these events.

Tickets for all events can be obtained from the Booking Office at Victoria Hall.


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Wally Keeler
5 years ago

The enormous human tragedy of World War One that ended 100 years ago was brought to the stage of the Firehall Theatre. The enormity was carried on the shoulders of only two actors.

Mary’s Wedding, written by Stephen Massicotte, is the first of three productions by Northumberland Players to celebrate and honour the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. Jack Boyagian directed the performances of the two young actors who rose to the challenge.

It’s no small challenge. Aside from memorizing well over an hour’s worth of lines, they are constantly on the move on stage, and not just physically, but also in time, fast-forward, rewind, new memory, new dream. The two actors did a splendid job of balancing horror with innocence as they portrayed lovers. Mary is dressed in a simple white house dress in bare feet presenting the innocence and vulnerability amid a scene of carnage.

I found myself charmed with invisible objects, of actors playing pretend, of Mary opening an envelope and reading a letter from Charlie. It would be easy to provide a prop for this action, but there was no envelope, physically. There was no horse on stage, but they stroked it, they walked it, they rode it, and we all saw it in our minds, the best place to apprehend and process.

Be prepared for an audio assault because there is lots of gunfire, explosions, thunder, and a visual assault, because the explosions and lightning are powerfully rendered. And it is unrelenting, with brief pauses of tenderness between the lovers. These pauses are lush with poetic imagery, the visceral pleasure of wind, flowers, horses, grass.

This performance is intense, to say the least. Performances are 8pm for Sept 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, Oct. 4, 5, 12, 13. And two matinees, Sept 23, 30, Oct. 14, at 3pm.

Wally Keeler
5 years ago

Sure hope that these events are going to be video recorded for posterity.