Stage Door News

Blyth: Dan Needles presents his new play “True Confessions from the Ninth Concession” May 23-25

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Nationally decorated playwright Dan Needles is coming back to Blyth. Winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour, member of the Order of Canada, Needles' hilarious observations of rural life have become an indelible fixture of Canadian culture. Past hits like The Perils of Persephone, which premiered at Blyth in 1989, have now had dozens and dozens of productions across the country. His Wingfield series of plays has been performed in almost every single English speaking theatre in Canada. And now Needles himself will be performing his True Confessions from the Ninth Concession, May 23-25, as a fund-raiser for Blyth Festival’s New Play Development Program. 

True Confessions is a collaboration with singer-songwriter and Canadian folk music icon Ian Bell. “This quirky look at rural life through stories and song is a perfect fit for the Blyth Festival audiences. Dan’s work has long had a singular connection to the hometown crowd, and this show is quintessential Dan Needles,” said Gil Garratt, who is artistic director of the Blyth Festival. (Another Dan Needles’ play, The Team on the Hill, is part of the 2019 Season, running July 31 to Sept. 5.)

The duo of Needles and Bell brings to stage the tales of rural life accumulated by Dan since he and his wife left the city in 1988 to start a family on a 40-acre farm two hours north of Toronto. There, they raised sheep, cattle, chickens, pigs and, eventually, children. With Dan as orator and Ian as musician, they take us on a journey through life on Larkspur Farm and draw the audience into the wider human community of the Back Settlement. 

“You’ll get tips on the rural wave, how to interpret weather signs and the correct approach to a one-lane bridge. You’ll also hear about the unlikely friendship between a “borderline” collie and an odd duck name Ferdinand, as well as recollections of a rooster gone rogue, an escaped pig and the risk of giving a name a Sunday entrée,” says Needles.

Whether from the city or the country, folks will find an evening of laughter in this fund-raising event that supports New Play Development at the Blyth Festival. True Confessions from the Ninth Concessions runs May 23 and May 24 at 7:30 p.m. and May 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets, $45, are available by visiting the Blyth Festival box office at 423 Queen St., Blyth, calling the box office at 1.877.862.5984 or visiting Needles’ play Perils of Persephone, was performed on the Blyth Festival stage in 1989 and 1990, before touring Ontario and going on to a radio production on CBC Morningside. Needles also wrote the back page for Country Guide magazine for 17 years and continues to write for Harrowsmith. He has been on the speaking circuit for three decades.

Ian Bell is widely known on the folk music scene, and was a foundational music contributor to The Vinyl Café, Fresh Air, and Gabereau. With an extensive discography, and a who’s who of Canadian folk music collaborations, Ian Bell is also the former artistic director of the Mariposa Folk Festival.

Photo: Dan Needles.