Homefirst was founded by Mary Vingoe and playwright Colleen Wagner in 2010 to produce theatre of social and political significance for Atlantic Canadian audiences. HomeFirst exists primarily to serve the playwright’s voice but our work also challenges the theatrical norm by encouraging innovative ongoing collaborations among playwrights , designers and director and actors through extended projects and long term partnerships.
In the winter of 2010 HomeFirst presented the world premiere of Colleen Wagner’s play Home at the Busstop theatre in Halifax. A powerful piece about the aftermath of resettlement and the right of return for Latvian immigrants to Canada, Home garnered excellent reviews and full houses for its limited run. It explored an area not much examined in our theatre, the rights of those forcibly resettled through the upheavals of war.
Building on its initial success, HomeFirst presented our second production, Mary Vingoe’s play Refuge in co-production with Eastern Front Theatre in 2013. In inspired by the CBC radio documentary Habtom’s Path, Refuge explores a tragic failure within our immigration system in Canada. Refuge was nominated for Best New play at Nova Scotia’s Merritt Awards and named a finalist in the Lieutenant Governor’s Masterworks awards in 2014. It was produced by Nightwood Theatre in Toronto in May 2016 and recieved its Vancouver premiere at the the Firehall in 2017. Refuge was published by Scriocco Press in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Drama in 2016.
With our growing success pressure grew to formalize the company and we were legally incorporated January 30, 2014. Our board is made up of artists, community activists, a retired teacher, an administrator and chaired by Mount St. Vincent English professor Reina Green, all of whom are passionate about Atlantic Canadian theatre.
Our third production was the Atlantic Canadian premiere of Catherine Banks’ Governor General’s Award winning play, It Is Solved By Walking. Highly metaphorical, the play uses American poet Wallace Stevens’ iconic poem Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird as a counterpoint to Banks’ achingly emotional and at times wrenching journey through the disolution of a marriage, sexual politics and failed creativity. It Is Solved By Walking was a co-production with our sister company in St John’s, White Rooster Theatre. Produced in the fall of 2014, It Is Solved By Walking received excellent reviews and exceeded box office expectations in both cities.
Our fourth production was the world premiere of Wendy Lill’s new play Messenger, based on An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen. Messenger asks the question: What if Canada had led the world on climate change? Directed by Mary Vingoe, designed by Andrew Cull (set) , Leigh Ann Vardy (lights) , Emlyn Murray (costumes) and Daniel Oulton ( projections and sound), Messenger premiered in November 2015 at Neptune Theatre’s Scotiabank studio in co-production with Eastern Front Theatre. Messenger featured Burgundy Code, John Dartt, Jeff Schwager and Hugh Thompson. It received excellent reviews and audience support.
HomeFirst has been fortunate to receive consistent funding from The Canada Council for the Arts, Arts Nova Scotia Scotia and the Craig Foundation for all of its productions. After a two year hiatus HomeFirst will be back in October of 2018 with its fifth production , the premiere of Mary Vingoe’s Some Blow Flutes.