Entrancing Evening in the Quarry (July 1, 2018)

The audience at this evening’s performance was entranced, despite the extreme heat of the day.  John Maurer’s paintings of lurid red landscapes brought further dimension to the wall of the quarry, providing a vibrant background to the artistic performances.  The intense palette he used for the landscapes drew the eye, even from far upstage.  He set up his display early, and sat, painting a new piece, up until the formal start of the show.  The audience began filtering in around 5:30 pm, and several groups purchased the available picnic baskets to enjoy as they watched the show.  The picnic baskets were the perfect accompaniment to the eclectic mix of luxury and the bare stone of the amphitheatre itself.  They included fresh fruit, baguettes, brie, tomatoes, paté, and chocolates.  The food contributed to the overall atmosphere that the art and the music brought beautiful, excited life to the stone quarry.  At 6:05 pm, Barry Brodie began the show with a reading of the memoir of how he developed and wrote his play, Tom Thomson: On the Threshold of Magic.  He continued with reading a scene of the play, wherein Thomson is castigated for painting beauty back into scenes of devastation.  His lush and colorful imagery held the audience captivated, and spurred the purchase of three copies of the play itself.  It was a strong analogue for the way that the performances and audiences themselves painted life and colour onto the bare stone.  The musical act this evening was the Steel City Rovers, a ‘Celtabilly’ band all the way down from Hamilton.  Their music was rollicking, combining the hallmark jig of Celtic music with the devil-may-care attitude and twang of rockabilly.  The Steel City Rovers inspired at least one audience member to get up and start dancing, and had the rest of us tapping our toes along.  The band was very popular and sold many CDs to new fans.  As for the setting of the show, the picnic tables were very popular, although many brought their own comfortable seating.  The new misting fan was also a huge success, providing refreshment to the audience as they enjoyed the show.

—Emmerson McIntosh