Q & A (Woody Point Edition) with David Ferry

August 2018

David Ferry is an actor and Dora Award-winning theatre director. He’ll present Short Waves/Short Stories a radiophonic adaptation of a short story on Sunday August 19, 10:30am an 11:30am, at the Heritage Theatre as part of Writers at Woody Point. This year’s story is Elisabeth De Mariaffi’s “Jim and Nadine, Nadine and Jim”, with lyrics for music adapted from Elisabeth’s poetry collection “Letter on St. Valentine’s Day.”

What is distinct about the Writers at Woody Point festival?

The eclectic programming is distinct for certain. Such a variety of writers, the kinds of writers, plus a cross pollination with a smart musical programming. The variety of ways in which everyone can experience the written word orally/aurally – where else will you see a combination of a walk through a section of Gros Morne park led by a Parks Canada interpreter/guide with a music in the woods and reading in the woods experience? I think that Steve Brunt, Shelagh Rogers, Alison Gzowski, Gary Noel, and the whole WIWP team from the start set up such a relaxed but disciplined structure … a kind of artistic anarchism is lurking in the process somewhere … and that fits well within a time honoured tradition in NL of a certain anarchist spirit. It’s loose without being loosey goosey. So there is no pressure. Of course the stunning physical site is a constant reminder of something bigger in which we all (audience, citizens, artists) sit in awe – our insignificance to nature makes us aware of how fortunate we are to have nature and art and art in nature. Then the interaction with the people that live and work in the Bonne Bay (and beyond) area is essential to the success of the Festival. The coffee at Jen Galliot’s store/gallery in the AM; the meal at the local restos or the trip to catch some COD; the picnic at the end of the hike down to Green Gardens or the drink at Bonne Bay Inn at sunset or the Saturday night dance at the Legion … all these make for a Festival fantasy, but it’s real. Not for a second is it fake or plastic or, dare I say the word, touristy.

What can an audience expect from your presentation, Short Waves/Short Stories?

Short Waves/Short Stories is a perfect example of how creative Steve Brunt has been in devising different programs. He asked me to come up with something “theatrical” a few years back, and once I had attended the Festival seven years ago as a pure audience member, I understood how important the act of listening is to the festival. So I decided to do something that has theatrical implications but really celebrates the power of the active listener. I look for a piece of writing that stimulates me and that I think will fit in with the overall programming of the season. For instance this year we will feature a short story and a poem by one of the writers in attendance, Elisabeth de Marriaffi. I then adapt the piece to be “broadcast” live as if it were a radio play to an audience sitting in a separate, specific location. The actors and musicians are performing from a room that has been rigged by resident sound guru Max Simms as a studio. The audience sits in the separate space sipping their morning lattes or mimosas, perhaps with eyes closed, and they listen to the story. The space they will hear the story in this year will be upstairs at the Heritage Theatre in what I call the “Sun and Moon room” (because of the beautiful shutters on the front windows). The music is composed, in part, live to accompany the readers. The overall experience is hopefully akin to that time when radio drama was alive and well in Canada and where we might pull the car over to finish listening to a play rather than turn it off.  For this year’s project I have adapted a poem by Elisabeth into lyrics and Erin Best and Sandy Morris have created a theme song to lead us into and through a dramatization of Elisabeth’s sexy, dangerous short story, Jim and Nadine, Nadine and Jim. And this year the audience will have a physical surprise to further enliven their listening experience. But I won’t give that away. People should come and listen.

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