Blyth’s artistic director announced as guest speaker at Conservation Dinner

Peter Smith

Peter Smith

EXETER – The Blyth Festival’s artistic director will share his story with guests at the upcoming Conservation Dinner.

Peter Smith’s artistic success, combined with his lifelong interest in conservation, make him an ideal choice as special guest for the 24th Anniversary Conservation Dinner, said Bob Laye, who is chair of the dinner committee.

Smith is the local theatre’s interim artistic director, replacing Eric Coates in time to choose the 2013 playbill. He was the theatre’s artistic director from 1990 to 1993 and went on to work with other Canadian theatres, and write for television, film, and stage.

Smith has worked in Canadian theatre from coast to coast in his career spanning three decades. He has written for several television series, including The Guard. His screenplay writing includes co-authoring the movies Tripping the Wire and Eight Days to Live. Smith has also written a mystery novel, After the Dying Fall, and is at work on his second book.

Smith grew up with a lifelong “love of story” but his road to a life in professional theatre began at the end of his final year of theatre studies at the University of Victoria. He was asked to play Pat Garrett in a Phoenix Theatre adaptation of Michael Ondaatje’s Governor General’s Award winner, The Collected Works of Billy the Kid: Left-handed Poems. That experience showed him that theatre was his calling and it was the start of a fascinating journey.

It is perhaps fitting that Smith hails from the farming crossroads community of Utopia, just west of Barrie, because he says he is hopeful this generation and future generations can conserve resources and be good stewards of land and water.

“Conservation is really important to me,” he said. Smith’s family farmed in Simcoe County and, he said, a person learns on the farm about the importance of woodlots, preventing soil erosion, and conserving land and water resources.

When asked about the importance of the Blyth Festival, he said, “I think it’s a treasure.”

“It’s different from any other theatre – Blyth is unique – it’s a special place,” he said.

It has been two decades since Smith has lived and worked in Huron County but he said, “I’m inspired, once again, by this community.”

The veteran of Canadian theatre is energized by the upcoming 2013 season at the Blyth Festival as well as the festival’s 40th anniversary taking place in 2014.

The 2013 Blyth Festival season sees: the return of the smash hit Dear Johnny Deere, running from June 11 to 22; a world première about farm life in modern Huron County, Beyond the Farm Show, directed by Severn Thompson (daughter of the original Theatre Passe Muraille pioneer Paul Thompson, of the original Farm Show), from June 26 to Aug. 16; a musical, Yorkville, rather like Green Acres only in reverse, with two step-dancing country gals going to the Big Smoke, July 3 to Aug. 11; the return of Ted Johns’ hit comedy Garrison’s Garage, which was first performed at Blyth in 1985, playing this summer from July 31 to Aug. 31 and sure to be a fan favourite; and a play with a can’t miss premise inspired by a real-life situation, Prairie Nurse, by Marie Beath Badian, a comedy of errors about two young nurses from the Philippines who arrive in a small rural hospital in the tiny Saskatchewan community of Arborfield where they are courted by the local hockey goaltender who can’t tell them apart, running from Aug. 7 to 31.

The 24th Annual Conservation Dinner takes place Thursday, April 18 at South Huron Recreation Centre in Exeter. To purchase a ticket, or to donate to the charity gala and auction, phone 519-235-2610 or 1-888-286-2610, visit online, or e-mail Tickets are $60 each, with a $30 income tax receipt. The volunteer committee welcomes financial support as well as donations of art, sports and entertainment memorabilia, crafts and furniture, travel packages, jewelry, and other items.

The Conservation Dinner is organized each year by the Exeter Lions Club, Ausable Bayfield Conservation Foundation, and other community members on the dinner committee. The support of businesses, donors, patrons, volunteers, and artists has helped the annual event raise more than $600,000 for local improvements in the event’s history spanning almost two and a half decades. The Conservation Dinner supports accessible trails for environmental health and human health, conservation education and recreation opportunities for young people and the young-at-heart, and commemorative woods that improve forest conditions and remember loved ones, among other important local conservation work that could not happen without this kind of public generosity. The dinner includes a live auction, silent auction, complimentary wine tasting, general raffles, special raffles, and more.

The Conservation Dinner Committee has selected the Early Bird Draw prize print for 2013. The limited-edition print is by popular artist Elisabeth Tonner-Keats and the print is called Midday Pause. It is number 168 of 475. People who purchase their ticket by Feb. 22 will have a chance to have their name selected, in a draw, to win the print. The draw for the print will take place on Monday, Feb. 25.

The 2012 dinner raised $53,664 in net proceeds for accessible trails, conservation education, conservation recreation opportunities for youth, stocking of fish in the Morrison Reservoir for an annual family-friendly fishing derby, commemorative woods, and more.

Written by on February 8, 2013 in Exeter, South Huron - No comments

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