by Sandy Irvin, Mississippi Mills
The redoubtable Fern Martin has done it again. The local playwright and activist is tackling a troublesome topic through song and humour. This time, it’s your litter and your impact on the planet and your neighbourhood. Martin has a real knack for personalizing big issues (think globally, act locally could be her motto, but she doesn’t have time to put it on a plaque). Trash Dance is a pun-filled take on a commonplace problem.
The topic is near and dear to the heart of Fern Martin. A lifelong gardener and longtime member of the Town of Mississippi Mills Beautification Committee, Martin believes passionately in the importance of nature and beautiful surroundings. This isn’t a naive belief in pretty things, but rather, a passionate belief in the healing power of nature. And nature can’t do her job if she’s covered in litter, now can she?
This passion for nature also motivates the play’s celebrity cameo by Ed Lawrence, local gardening rock star and guru. This is a first for Lawrence; though he’s known for his dulcet tones, we tend to hear him on CBC radio giving gardening advice, rather than breaking in to song. It’s a testament to Fern’s powers of persuasion and Ed’s good humour that he appears.
Trash Dance features an all-star local cast, including Miss Mills, youth, and adults. The play is a light-hearted look at the issue of littering and some of the excuses people make for themselves. Martin does not use old anthems for this (Pete Seeger’s Garbage came immediately to mind), but rather, takes lively songs and makes them topical with new lyrics, including Another One Bites the Dust, Time Warp, and Dancing in the Street. The cast is strong of voice, assisted ably by the vocal coaching of Jennifer Noxon, and well-choreographed, thanks to Director Kris Riendeau.
Trash Dance is a touring production; the play will appear across Mississippi Mills, including daytime shows for school students, and evening stops at Pakenham School (November 6), Clayton Community Hall (November 7), and the Almonte Old Town Hall (November 13 & 14, plus a matinee November 15). Tickets are available at Baker Bob’s in Almonte, Nicholson’s Sundries in Pakenham, and the Clayton General Store, or call 613-624-5104. Please note that the evening performances contain slightly (very slightly) more mature content than the school shows.