50 years ago, TNB spent an entire season working out of Campbellton, New Brunswick while the Fredericton Playhouse was closed for renovations. To mark the occasion, New Brunswick’s oldest English language professional theatre company will launch its first tour of the 2022-2023 season in Campbellton on November 1 with a world premiere production of Bluebirds by Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Vern Thiessen.
It has been nearly twenty years since the last time Theatre New Brunswick performed in Campbellton. After decades spent regularly visiting New Brunswick’s northern-most city as part of the company’s annual season touring, financial hardship brought an end to much of TNB’s inter-provincial travel following the 2005-2006 season.
Last week the company announced its first play planned for the coming season. The world premiere production of Bluebirds by Governor General’s Award-winning playwright Vern Thiessen will open in Fredericton on October 26 before hitting the road for a five-performance tour of the province. The tour, TNB’s first since 2019, will begin in Campbellton with a performance at Polyvalente Roland-Pépin High School on November 1.
“I’m excited. I’m excited to be making theatre again,” said TNB Artistic and Executive Director Natasha MacLellan. “I’m excited to get back out on the road and reconnect with audiences across the province. And I’m especially happy to start our tour in Campbellton, a city that holds such a unique place in Theatre New Brunswick’s history.”
Theatre New Brunswick has been based in Fredericton since the company was founded in 1969, operating out of the Playhouse for several decades. In 1972, the Playhouse was renovated to add the colourful fly tower. While under construction, TNB needed to find a temporary home. Thanks in part to the TNB Patrons Association of Restigouche and the people of Campbellton, the company found a temporary home at the newly opened Restigouche Senior High School. That year marked the one and only season of theatre constructed, rehearsed and delivered from a city other than Fredericton.
“It was certainly a challenge, running a season out of a completely different city,” said Ilkay Silk, Chair of the TNB Foundation Board of Governors. At the time, Silk was working as a Technical Assistant with TNB. “None of it would have been possible without the incredible support we received from the community. Local businesses went out of their way to accommodate us. That’s something I will always remember about Campbellton.”
Tickets for performances of Bluebirds in Fredericton, Campbellton, Moncton, Saint John, St. Andrews and Florenceville-Bristol are now on sale at tnb.nb.ca