Opeongo Reader’s Theatre brings new life to story time

Opeongo Reader’s Theatre players Gil Glofcheskie, Mark Woermke (L-R)

Rachel Newcombe

On St. Patrick’s Day, the Opeongo Reader’s Theatre recorded their first podcast episode, Spring Thaw, in front of a live audience at the Madawaska Valley Public Library.

Put together by Barry Conway, a former broadcast journalist and university professor, the Opeongo Reader’s Theatre is a local initiative to bring classic short stories, poems, and travelogues to life through live storytelling, shared via podcast for all to enjoy.

Karen Filipkowski and Mark Woermke both acted as emcees and storytellers, joining the talented cast of Frances Mawson, Gil and Vicki Glofcheskie, Peter Benner, Jane Corbett, and Linda Shulist.

A rapt audience listened to the theatre players perform dramatic readings of classic children’s stories like The Land of Nod and Peter Rabbit, Irish tales likes St. Patrick’s Birthday, and local verses like On the Opeongo Line and Rev. Tomlin’s Travels.

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Young audience member at live rehearsal

Authors represented in the first podcast episode include Charles Dickens, Butler Yeats, Robert Frost, and Oscar Wilde.

It was fun doing the first recording. This is a new venture for all of us, with the exception of Barry who is a seasoned pro.

said Filipkowski.

He prepped us as to how to handle the inevitable line blunders and how to best deliver our pieces so we felt pretty comfortable as a group going into this, and [we] look forward to the next show.

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Barry Conway recording the first Reader’s Theatre podcast   Photo: Mark Woermke

That was Conway’s goal. He previously explained to the Madawaska Valley Current that,

It’s really about having fun the way people in small towns have always had fun – by doing something worthwhile that somehow tickles your fancy.

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Live audience during March Break

Fancies were certainly tickled with the live storytelling. It was especially enjoyable for the children who got a sneak peek at a live rehearsal earlier in the week. Many of the readers reported complete stillness and wide eyes from the young crowd as they followed Peter through Mr. McGregor’s garden, and learned about the Selfish Giant.

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St. Patrick’s Day live audience    Photo: Mark Woermke

The adult audience had the same response. All eyes were on the readers, and only after the recording devices were turned off did they break out into loud, well-deserved applause.

Conway, responsible for finding and sourcing all the stories that were shared in this episode, hopes to keep the Opeongo Reader’s Theatre and its performers busy, already planning an April episode of Polish stories to celebrate the upcoming Kashub Day festival.

About the author: Rachel Newcombe is a content creator, former journalist and frequent visitor to the Madawaska Valley. She loves writing and reading, and cooking when she gets the chance.

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