The Farm Show: a poignant glimpse into a disappearing rural existence

by Judith van Berkom

The Ottawa Theatre School’s graduate students presented an enthusiastic, lively rendition of the true Canadian classic 1972 play, The Farm Show. The young actors’ passion for their performances was infectious. This is their final play in the last year of a three-year fully accredited Performing Arts Conservatory Program. The play opened on April 22, runs until April 27, and is directed by Andy Massingham.

A collective creation 40 years ago by Toronto-based Theatre Passe Muraille, The Farm Show transports us to the small town of Clinton in rural Southwestern Ontario.

The original performance took place in a barn and was the result of a group of actors’ experiences working with farmers – helping them out – and then writing about those experiences. The current play takes us back almost 50 years and in a light, often comedic and yet poignant storytelling fashion gives us a glimpse into rural life – the hopes and dreams, fears and losses associated with a disappearing way of life.

The 9-person cast play multiple roles, on a sparse stage where they transform into farmers or farm animals and anything or everything in between, delighting and captivating their audience.

As Canadian farmers struggle to make a living for themselves and their children, the audience is confronted with their bleek economic future — young people moving away, the high cost of equipment and land, accidents associated with mechanisation and government regulations. But the play also introduces us to hard working and, at times, eccentric farm personalities. The question that remains is ‘Where will our food come from in the future?’

The Farm Show — April 22 to 27, 8 p.m. 294 Picton Ave.  Tickets for final performances are available here

MORE: Ottawa Theatre School volunteer, Natalie Hanson, enters stage left. 


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