HomeFirst prepares its fourth world premiere: Some Blow Flutes

An old woman dances alone, shedding her clothes and searching for a lost past.  

A mother who has lost custody of her troubled daughter visits a rundown shoe repair shop looking for company. The elderly Greek owner wants nothing to do with her until she stumbles inadvertently on a secret of his past life.  

A teenage girl struggles with an unwanted pregnancy. 

Some Blow Flutes deals with the effects of memory loss, both that brought on by illness and that which is self-induced as a way of numbing pain. The play asks the question; How can we forgive when we cannot remember? 

HomeFirst Theatre is about to undertake this its fifth production, the world-premiere of Mary Vingoe’s Some Blow Flutes. Vingoe, who is Artistic Director of HomeFirst Theatre, has been working on the play since 2015. Fascinated with the line between collective and individual memory loss, Vingoe has crafted an intensely personal journey – one that examines and explores the effects of dementia, isolation, addiction, and religion in memory loss.

Inspired by a quote from the I Ching which refers to how we respond to tragedy, Some Blow Flutes is the story of Costas Frangoulis, an elderly shoe repair man deeply set in his ways and refusing to admit that his wife Elena is beginning to suffer the effects of dementia. His life is altered when Sandra, a professional organizer who cannot begin to organize her own life, enters his shop. His teenage granddaughter Leah who cares for her grandmother is best friends with Sandra’s estranged daughter Marijke. Marijke is fourteen and pregnant. An unlikely friendship between Costas and Sandra and a chance meeting between Elena and Marijke turn to an unravelling of past lives and hidden grievances which play out with unexpected results.

Some Blow Flutes is a profoundly human story that will speak directly to anyone who has suffered the effects of or is suffering from memory loss. Although the play is no way meant to be instructive, it explores issues which many will find compelling and perhaps enlightening. Denial, anger, and pride are all a part of the journey to acceptance. There is still a great deal of shame and secrecy around diseases of the mind. Few of us wish to tell the world they or a loved one has received a diagnosis of dementia. It is also no longer considered a disease of old age as many people in their 50 s and 60s are being affected and there is no cure. Often discussions begin with the dreaded question, “How did you know?” followed by fear the speaker themselves may be affected. Some Blow Flutes attempts to bring dementia into the open in a way that explores the possibility of compassion and redemption in the face of overwhelming odds.

Sue LePage, Vicky Williams, Steven Naylor, and Nick Bottomley comprise the impressive roster of award winning and internationally-acclaimed designers that will be collaborating with Vingoe to create a fluid environment in which the story can take place. By combining projection, lighting, and sound design for a small space, we will create carved spaces in light and abstract textures in sound which can oscillate between the real and the imaginary to probe the world of memory disintegration. Through the talents of Bottomley, Naylor, Williams, and LePage, the production will create spatial and sound environments which transcend traditional theatre design. It is our hope that the subject matter as well as the actual realization of Some Blow Flutes will challenge traditional thinking and perception of dementia. This concept involves considerable technical sophistication and will require extensive technical rehearsal.

Our cast includes veteran Atlantic Canadian actors Mary-Colin Chisholm, Hugh Thompson, Francine Deschepper, as well as bright newcomers Gina Thornhill and Ailsa Galbreath – all of whom were involved with readings of the play. Additionally, local actor Theofani Pitsiavis has been our consultant on the Greek language which appears in the play.

Some Blow Flutes has been developed through the Gros Morne Playwrights’ Residency, Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre (PARC), Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre (2017), Playwrights Workshop Montreal (PWM), the National Arts Centre, and Eastern Front Theatre’s STAGES Theatre Festival.

HomeFirst Theatre’s production of Some Blow Flutes will be the the fourth world-premiere in the company’s history. It will mark the first time that acclaimed theatre artist Mary Vingoe will direct her own work. Some Blow Flutes is scheduled to be presented at the Bus Stop Theatre from October 24th to November 4th, 2018.

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