Sunday, October 31, 2010

Meadowbrook Cart Ride near Barkerville, B.C.

Meadowbrook Cart Ride near Barkerville, B.C.

Well, this is a little late in posting, but I finally had time to do some editing of a few video clips Amy took on her iPhone of our cart rides this season.  (see link below)
We put on close to 100 km with the cart and Babe this summer.  A great way to travel. They say you can ride until you're 70 and drive (a team that is) until you're 90, so I'm good for a while yet.

Grandson Ollie and I at Amy's apartment after a 20 km ride. Amy Newman photo.

Lunch time at the Cornish Mountain loop junction. 
Ollie's least favorite part was Babe's "gassing off", but he is a great companion. 
He learned to ride in Dubai. Richard Wright photo.

We choose this Meadowbrook cart in part because we know this type was used in Barkerville in the early years, as evidenced by the photo below of Josiah and Laura Beedy. (Laura was a Lindhard, born in Denmark and Josiah an American. He was on Williams Creek by 1863 and they were married in Van Winkle in 1871.)

Josiah and Laura Beedy with one-horse cart and light driving harness. Note the large wheels.


One advantage of riding and driving is that wildlife pays less attention to us. 
This moose was on the Cornish Mountain loop, my favorite cart ride. Richard Wright photo.


The road to Roundtop from the Cariboo Hudson mine is one of the most difficult we have found, verging on impassable for the cart. The hills are steep and rough, but fortunately short. Once we hit alpine the road was fine and the views great.  Richard Wright photo.

While the view is spectacular it was shrouded in smoke from the Chilcotin fires. 
Clouds of horseflies meant lunch was just a short break. Richard Wright photo.


Another ride took us up Sawmill Creek from Antler Creek, through two fords, 
to the pass into the Swift River at Littler's Meadow. 
The flies were so bad Babe could not stand still. Richard Wright photo.

The iPhone video would not load to this blog site for some unknown reason, so here is a direct link to the You Tube posting:

The vertical format of the iPhone is a little unusual, but it actually works well for the road and Babe. The hill is actually very steep which is why Babe is stepping so carefully. I walked her up but found I had more control by driving her down.
We have another list of routes to try next season - stay tuned.

Copyright 2010, Richard Wright and Amy Newman

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Theatre Royal, Barkerville - an audience survey

Greetings from the Producer's Desk at Theatre Royal, Barkerville;

This blog seems a good way to reach a few more people and get more answers to questions to help us plot our direction for the next couple of years at the Theatre Royal, Barkerville, B.C.

Would you spare us a few minutes of your time? If you have been to a show in the last two years your response will be of value to us. As revenues at Barkerville fluctuate we need to find ways of reducing costs and increasing revenues while continuing to produce quality shows and responding to our audiences.

Our full cast on our last British Music Hall show which included Marcello Sequeira. Maya Meron, centre, also joined us in these shows.

How many shows did you attend?
Did you attend the 1 pm Gold Rush Revue variety show?
Did you attend the 4 pm drama (ie: Overlanders, Fire Storm, Unquiet Grave)?
Did you attend our weekend An Evening British Music Hall?
Did you attend The Bride of Barkerville at 11 pm?
Did you attend Just Another Cariboo Day, our Thursday show?

Which of these did you prefer, or were they equal in your mind?

Do you think we should continue to present our historical drama at 4 pm (ie Overlanders, Fire Storm, Unquiet Grave)?
The 2010 cast of "The Unquiet Grave". Matt Quick, Ben Bilodeau; Alison Jenkins, Robert Ahad, Amy Newman, Sayer Roberts, Richard Wright.

Should we continue to present our Variety show?

Would you prefer to see another light variety show instead of the more serious drama?

Were the times appropriate for your visit, ie: 1 pm and 4 pm and weekend evenings at 7pm.?
If not, what times would you suggest?

Amy Newman as Jessie Hamilton on "The Unquiet Grave" set, designed and built by Dave Brotsky.

Our adult price is $12.75 plus HST, with discounts for seniors, youth, children and family?
Do you feel this is:
Just right
Too high
Too low

Any other comments will be appreciated.

Thanks for responding to this. It will be of great help to us.
The easiest way to respond is to cut and paste, type in your answers and email to: wrighttheatreroyal.ca.  (Remove the at and replace with @)

Richard & Amy

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Theatre Royal, Barkerville spring tour 2011

Well, here we go again!
Despite a summer of declining revenues and in the face of a distinct lack of funding we have nevertheless decided to mount a 2011 Spring Tour.  We all need the work and the theatre needs the promotion. The tour will need to be carefully managed for travel and budget but we feel we can pull it off.  We decided to go ahead after a couple of venues where we have played before asked us to return.  And, this fall is so much fun working with a great cast comprised of Amy, Robert, Marcello, Elliott, Matt and myself that we find it hard to put it all to bed. What a team!
Our dates are set for March but we have not decided on a route yet. Likely we will begin here in Wells, where we have cheap accommodation and rehearsal space. Our goal is go as far into the Peace country as we can. If you know anyone up there have them give us a shout.
Right now we are looking for venues and sponsors.
For now, here is our News Release. Stay tuned for more information and venue dates.


Gold Rush Nuggets tour
Theatre Royal, Barkerville –Spring Tour - March 2011
The popular Theatre Royal cast, under Newman and Wright Theatre Company from Barkerville Historic Town, is harnessing up and rolling through British Columbia on another provincial tour.
 “Each year we tour the province to perform in over 20 venues for more than 5000 people. Again this year we are taking the road to the hinterlands,” says producer Richard Wright. “We will travel from our home base in Wells, B.C. north, east, south and west, from small, intimate venues to large theatres. Everywhere we perform we have good houses and leave them all with a smile. This tour is called ‘Gold Rush Nuggets’, a selection of some of the best material from seven years of shows, plus some new ones.”
            The tour goal, he says, is to bring the music of the goldrush to folks around the province. Our secondary goal is to promote Barkerville as a tourist destination, to take a little of the Theatre Royal and Barkerville to BC communities.
            “Our shows bring back a lot of memories for folks,” says musical director and partner Amy Newman. “They recall visits to Barkerville or remember the music we perform. A couple of years ago in Port Alberni we met a man who was celebrating his 88th birthday. He was born in Barkerville in 1920 in the old Cariboo Hospital.”
“The most common comment from folks is that they have not laughed or sung so much in years,” adds Wright.  “That’s a great accomplishment,” says Wright. “We all take pride in bringing a light entertaining moment to folks, particularly with the depressing news we hear on the nightly news.”
The show focuses on material actually sung on the stage of the Theatre Royal, Barkerville. The Theatre was built in 1869, right after the Great Fire of 1868, but before that time performances were held in the Parlour Saloon. The music includes tunes that were popular as B.C. was entering Confederation, songs that tell the story of Barkerville. It also moves into the later years of the Theatre with rollicking songs and humour associated with the great British Music Hall era. All of the performers are masters of this era and bring a great evening of entertainment, explains Newman.
“In historic terms one might say ‘The cast of the Newman & Wright Theatrical Troupe presents an array of magnificent musical numbers, engaging sketches, fantastical farces, romantic interludes and ostentatious olios. We bring you the best thespians and musicians that money can buy, direct from the music halls, theatres and grand stages of London, New York, San Francisco and Victoria,’” she says.
The tour is now being planned as dates and venues come in. Anyone interested can contact the company through Richard Wright.


-30-

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Barkerville, B.C. Street Bridges confirmed

The elusive Barkerville, British Columbia Street Bridges confirmed

Around the year 1883 a photographer set up his camera in Barkerville, in BC's Cariboo, at the corner of the Theatre Royal and took a photograph looking down the main street, north toward St. Savior's church. He, or she, may not have known it, but they recorded for history the only known photo of an elusive Barkerville street bridge.

Not much is known about the two bridges that are said to have crossed the street.  In my first book on Barkerville I wrote that near the Mason and Daly Store, "one of two street bridges crossed here so that better-dressed businessmen and ladies would not have to walk through the mud, water and manure of the busy street.  Will Bowron (son of John Bowron) recalled watching the frequent horse races from their vantage point."

Modern visitors insist on using the main street as their path, and complain about the horse apples, not wanting to believe that "in the day" the boardwalks were used as the streets were, indeed, mud and manure.

This did not change in subsequent editions as no further information was found, other than a photograph of Andrew Kelly standing in front of his store with some strange posts attached to the board walk, remnants we now know, of a bridge and waterline.

About a month ago, (June, 2010) a glass side such as used in the old "magic lantern" projectors appeared on an online auction.  Two folks were bidding.  It was clear even from the low rez online photo that this photo showed one of the elusive bridges.  I was fortunate enough to become the high bidder, at some cost, and the "winner."

The photo, shown here at low rez, shows the old Hudson Bay store on the left, then several buildings and the clearly identifiable Masonic Lodge, and further down the street St. Savior's church.  On the extreme right corner is the corner of the Barkerville Hotel porch and boardwalk. The height of the flag poles is remarkable.

There is lots to be learned from this photo, after a high rez scan is made and studied; such as who the men on the boardwalk are and what buildings we are seeing.  But what is clear is that the boardwalks in Barkerville were at this time much higher than we normally think. At the HBC they are a good 10 feet off the ground.  The bridge is higher yet, and it begs the question, "could stagecoaches go under."  The answer is yes, based on the measurement of the current stage being worked in Barkeville, with passengers.  However, we might also ask whether stagecoaches used the main street and if so why are there no photos of stagecoaches in Barkerville? Perhaps they only used the back street.

The provenance of the photo is unfortunately lost.  The UK collector I purchased from bought it as one of a group of 3400 glass slides in an estate sale in middle England.  It appears there are no others of Barkerville in the collection. How did this slide get in the collection? Likely we will never know.
Nevertheless, it is an interesting and exciting window to our town and it is now back in Cariboo.

For an update on the research on this photo go to Richard's blog: http://richardtwright.blogspot.com

Copyright 2010, Richard Thomas Wright

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Theatre Royal, Barkerville interrupted


 It’s been some time since I added to this blog, but at least there is reason in my procrastination. Life got complicated here in the Cariboo Mountains.
            First of all one of the Theatre Royal mules, Red, died of colic, a severe impaction of the bowel.  We worked hard to save her.  The gal where she is boarded did all she could, I walked her for several hours, Matt and Cyril Quick responded to my request and took turns walking her another few hours (what a pair – thanks guys), and the vet finally took her for intensive care.  Nothing worked.  After three days my companion of many adventures went to her pasture in the sky. Babe and I will miss her.
            Then, about a month ago now, just as I was beginning work on a new story out of Tombstone for this blog, just as I was completing some more research, just as a pretentious spring arrived here in the Cariboo Mountains, Amy Newman hopped in her sweet little Dodge Caliber and headed up here to the mountains for a visit.  The plan was to spend some winter days skiing, take part in the Wells Gourmet Ski and work on this coming season’s cast and shows.  As Hans Solo said when he fell into the garbage compactor, “Wrong!”
            The first couple of days went just fine. Then on the Monday I had an optometrist appointment in Quesnel.  “Let’s take my car and save fuel,” said Amy.  Red Flag!  Sounds fine to me, I said.
            We headed home about 5 pm. I nodded off as the eye drops for the exam had made me groggy and dizzy.  I awoke to Amy shouting, “Holy ….”.  I felt the car lurch, roll and drop with a hard, hurting, bang.  There was no easy whump into a snow bank.  We hit black ice, skidded, Amy steered away from a 20-foot drop, we hit the snow bank on the right, rolled, became airborne, hit a tree eight feet in the air and dropped upside down in the ditch.  “Damn, that was hard,” I remember thinking.
            Amy was talking, asking if I was okay. I hung upside down in the seatbelt. “Yeah, I think so, but I can’t get out.”  My side door was buried in the snow. Then a voice asked, “Are you okay in there?”  Amy managed to crawl out her door and she and the driver who stopped wrenched open the door for me.  We were both okay – bruised, a cut head, sore ribs, stressed - but okay.  Once again, not our time. (That’s at least four or five times I’ve said that. Lord, I am listening!)
            Danny, a Wells neighbour, stopped to help and started loading all our gear in his truck. It was clear we were not driving this puppy home. “My nice car,” said Amy. “Just a car,” said Danny. “You guys are okay.”  I can’t tell you how great it is to see a friendly neighbour’s face at a time like this.
            Gord, a friend who lived just across the highway, came over to help and took Amy to call the RCMP.  Many cars stopped to help. “How the hell did you get out,” was the usual question?
            Danny helped us pack everything up and drove us home. (Thanks Danny.) We dropped our stuff and went over to Dave and Cheryl’s at the Bear Paw. We needed to debrief. As friends do, they listened, and then made us dinner.
Downside up at Cottonwood hill.
            As they days progressed we found we were not able to concentrate and my ribs gave me a lot of discomfort.  But we got a cheque for the car from ICBC the next day - 22 hours!  Amazing.  Lisa at Regency Chrysler in Quesnel helped Amy find and purchase another used vehicle, the color she originally wanted. (That is one hard way to change the color of your car.) We decided to drive to Red Deer to pick up the car. On the way I was going to look for a mule, pick up a new cart, and a used horse trailer. Most of it worked out.
Meadowbrook cart. We have photos of a cart just like this in early Barkerville.
            The folks with the mule decided not to sell, the trailer was more used with more rust than I had been told, but the cart arrived in Alberta from Regina and it was just what I have wanted for several years; the car was ready to go and just what Amy wanted and the drive was in sunshine and mountains all the way.  A great few days away.
Bighorn sheep on the Kootenay Plains.
Cloud cover on the Columbia Icefields.
            Time had gotten away from us in searching for a car, a mule, wagons, trailers, physio appointments with Kate, car dealing and horse trading. We did manage a couple of meetings and dinners, with Danette Boucher for instance, who is performing a new one-woman show for us this season, and we had fun with the Gourmet Ski – another Wells success story.
            Friends rallied round. Patrick dropped off two loads of small firewood for instance, so I don’t have to split wood.  Folks like Patrick, Matt, Cyril, Gord, Danny, Dave, Cheryl … they are what makes small town living so great.
            Amy is now back in Vancouver. I am refinishing the cart, the trailer is being repaired and repainted, a bunch of stuff is being sold … and I am still looking for a mule. There is a great pair in Tennessee and a nice one in New Mexico … .
            Now we can get back to theatre stuff like contracts, costumes, our new expanded program and visitor’s guide and generally getting ready for the next season, which we anticipate will be the best yet. And I can hear Peter Boychuk our director and Dale Brotsky our set designer asking, “where is the script?”  Soon, just as soon as I can find this mule – after all, as Edward Howman says, “theatre is theatre.”
             Red, in foreground, on the Cariboo Road, Camel Trek 2003 - Leif Grandell photo.
So long Red. Good pastures. You were a good old girl.   
                 
                                                            -30-
Copyright 2009 Richard T.Wright
            

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The other side of Theatre Royal, Barkerville

There are many aspects of running a theatre, from research for plays, construction work, hiring and firing, rehearsing ... and then there is the constant search for funds to keep a theatre running.  These are hard times for the arts in B.C. with massive cuts facing many groups.  While the Theatre Royal has never relied on grants, just ticket sales and a few wonderful Angels, the lack of arts support affects us all.  
This guest blog from Amy Newman tells another side of the story.

Recently, an artist in the Vancouver area took his own life. I read about it on a forum for artists called the "SEARCH-grads list". The list is the end result of taking part in SEARCH: a month-long program that used to be offered by the human resources/employment arm of the federal government; it was set up/organized by the Alliance for Arts and Culture (www.allianceforarts.com) in Vancouver. Its mandate was "to help artists and cultural workers learn how to create more sustainable incomes through employment and self-employment." The program funding was cut by the federal government a year or two ago.

The SEARCH program instructed/informed artists over a month-long period (five days a week, from 9:00 – 5:00) about how to structure their lives as artists. It was a fascinating course; I took it some years ago, when I was struggling to make sense of my life: what to do next? how to do what I want and make a living at it? Questions like that sent me to the SEARCH program. It was of great benefit to me and I hope, to all who participated in it, over the years. A few examples of what was covered in the course: It taught us all about self-reliance; how to network with other artists; to plan out our days as self-employed people; how to think about skills transference, when seeking regular employment. (By the way, "artist" in this sense is being used as a general term referring to anyone working in arts and culture of any kind: performance, visual art, writing, arts administration, etc.)

What remains of the program is the SEARCH-grads list, a database of all who ever took the course (I believe a few thousand?). People on the list send out notes or adds for their services to the whole group – anything that is of relevance to them at the time of writing. When I read about the death (suicide) of an artist in this city on this forum a few weeks ago, it filled me with a great sadness. I didn't know the man, but his death has sparked some heartfelt communiqués between many of us who live and work in the arts and culture sector. Today I was thinking about some of the words that had been expressed by other folks from this list and I have decided to wade in with my thoughts on the matter. Here is my letter, addressed to artists, living and working in BC...

I want to respond to you all in regards to the loss of an artist in this city. Like many of you, I didn't know Norm Tucker until I read about him here on the SEARCH-grads list forum. And like all of you, I know how hard it is to survive as an artist at this point in time here in BC.

People may compliment the fine singers who are caroling at their local mall; they may walk past a visual artist painting and think – hey, that's great. They may see someone creating jewelry at Granville Market and think the work is stunning; maybe they see a performance of dance which is really inspirational; or they may hear a jazz player at a café and think it's terrific. But the general public – and the government, too, for that matter – have no idea what it takes to get to the level of being thought terrific or fine or great or stunning or inspiring. They have no concept of the endless hours of study we all go through, the monies which are shelled out so we can learn to be the best we can be at our craft. The poor-starving-artist-in-the-garret – perhaps we have La Boheme to thank for this idea – is such a romantic notion to many who don't live that way. 

For people who go along their daily business and chores, working at jobs they hate just to get money to live so they can take two weeks holiday a year and finally have fun, I suppose the way we live is romantic and beautiful. We are trying to carve out a little place for ourselves in the world, doing what it is that we do best – and trying to survive in the doing of it. And yet, the government perhaps sees us as spoiled; to them we may all appear as on-the-fringe type personalities, who don't really contribute financially to the society and don't accept the modus operandi of the existing world; and all of that is possibly true, to some extent. We want to make our world better! We want to make our lives worth living. We are the idealists of our culture and that is often seen as dangerous. Governments these days don't trust artists, I suppose...
   What they don't get is the price we pay for trying to live out our dreams. They don't get how driven we are, that we must do this thing, or we will be stultified. But it doesn't mean we are spoiled! We, too, have bills to pay, mouths to feed, etc. And it is just so hard to make it all work and still stay full of passion to create as we must do, in order to survive. 

I know a fantastic little pub on one of the Gulf Islands. My dad used to play jazz there when he was alive. The pub owner was totally committed to providing good quality entertainment and hired the groups for a few hundred bucks a night. It wasn't much, but it was worth doing. Now, many years (and a couple of owners) later, the pub still offers jazz entertainment on Sunday nights, but the pay is only a fraction of what it used to be. I have seen excellent, highly experienced, skilled jazz players in there, playing basically to feed their hearts and souls – certainly not their pocketbooks. I do understand that the pub owner may not be able to afford to pay much, due to the economy these days. You must sell a lot of food and drinks to pay good wages to musicians. And the night I was there, the audience/patrons was/were a small group of people. 

I get the picture – from both sides. As a theatre producer/performer/writer (with a business/life partner), I have learned what it is to hire performers and pay them; then I wonder how I am going to be able to pay myself at the end of the month. To do this work that I am passionate about (without any grants or extra funding, by the way, only ticket sales) I have learned what it's like on both sides – as a performer and as a producer of art/entertainment. It's not easy.

I know a couple of people back east, who are – at this point in their lives – working regular jobs which are either utterly boring or physically taxing or both. One of them used to be an opera singer; the other was a pianist in bar bands. They both worked so very, very hard at their crafts, trying to be the best that they could be in a stiffly competitive world. They both made a living – of sorts – from their work as artists in the entertainment field. But now, they both are over the age of being sought after to keep doing what they used to do, so they are working at regular jobs instead. Neither of them own their own homes; neither of them are comfortable financially and they will need to keep working until they drop. Retirement? Ha. That is the price they have paid for trying to live the life of an artist. It maybe what is in store for me one day, too.

How are we as artists ever to get through to the powers that be, that what we do is of value? It is an on-going struggle. Perhaps the general public is gradually becoming more aware of the sacrifices which we make in order to "live the dream". Events like the "East End Culture Crawl" (where artists of all disciplines in the East End of Vancouver open up their homes and/or studios to the public, over a weekend) hopefully really shows people what our world is like. On the other hand, I know a woman who has a regular 9-5 type job (though she often puts in a lot of overtime, too) and she cannot believe how I do what I do in my life. She cannot conceive of the heart and soul that I give to my work (which is my life) and the financial instability which goes with it. I am making a living; it is not a great living, but I am doing what I love doing, so that is something. But it is so clear to all of us in the arts, that cultural work is what gives society its meaning. And as I always say (in regards to my work at Theatre Royal, specifically and Barkerville, generally): If we don't know where we came from, how will we know where we are going?

I hope that those with power will come to see that arts and culture is an area of our society that is worth supporting. If this sector was really sustained in a meaningful way, then the isolation, the distress and depression which all artists feel at times, would gradually disappear and the notion of taking one's own life would never again be seen as the only way out.

Amy Newman

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Theatre Royal, Barkerville - new cast for 2010






Photo Richard Wright: VanDusen Garden's light up. The Christmas Revelers performed here to great accolades.


The last month has been a hectic round of holidays, visiting family and friends  sandwiched in with auditions and meetings to get our Theatre Royal, Barkerville season up and running.
         It began with me cruising in off the highway to catch the last few songs of Amy’s Christmas Revelers at Burnaby village. What a great sound!  This year the Revelers were Amy, Alison Jenkins, Theatre Royal alumni Nick Fontaine, Chris Harvey and Patrice Bowler as a stand-in for Alison.
          Amy and I started off our own reveling at dinner with my old friend Jim Stanton, his partner Paula, her son Travis and my son Raven. Then came Christmas with our respective families and New Year’s Eve with old friends at my brother’s.  It is a party that has been going for 35 years!
         We had a chance to see Amy’s niece Lauren Bowler (Theatre Royal alumni with Eureka) as the lead in Thoroughly Modern Millie at Gateway Theatre. Theatre Royal 2009 alumni Jennie Moase and Thomas Boutilier were also in the cast. Great work by all three, though the direction and set made it a lighter shade of grey. The theatre brought back memories as my brother Edd has performed there and my Dad was on the board of directors for many years.  I could almost see Dad standing at the door as we entered.



Old friends celebrate Christmas


In the New Year we headed to Victoria for auditions at the Canadian College of Performing Arts where we saw some talented young folks. Both Peter Boychuk, our returning director, and Matt Quick, Company Manager, joined us so we were able to cram in some planning for 2010 over a pint or two.
         The next night we met with Marcello and Christina Sequeira and confirmed Marcello returning in the spring as stage manager, a real switch up for him. Marcello will also be returning in the fall as a performer. One reason for his return is that he just found out his great, great, great grandfather was a partner in the famous Raby Claim on Williams creek.
         Between all this Amy found time to visit her friend Maureen, the gal who loans us so many costumes, at Disguise the Limit, to see her renovated shop.
         Then we spent many hours at the BC Archives, checking out a few facts, reading journals, and trying to get a handle on the Cassiar gold rush of 1874 for a new project we are working on. That all took most of a week.
         Then back to Vancouver for a meeting with Peter and auditions at Capilano University, again with Peter.  From these we found many talented folks and hired Sayer Roberts as a performer. He performed a great number from Wizard of Oz, “If I only had a brain”, with legs of rubber. Maya Meron did a great audition and then ended it with Whistle Pitch singing. You can check out this singing style on You Tube but it is basically the high register singing Maria Cary is known for. Maya will be Front of House/Performer.  We also auditioned and hired Shawn Watson, a multi-instrumentalist who plays tuba, guitar, ukelele, digeredoo, baritone, tin whistle and a bunch more. Without knowing our connection he played "Berkeley" by David Essig. David has been a friend of mine for 20 years, recorded the sound track for most of Amy’s one-woman shows and has been a guest at the Singing Camel several times. Shawn will join us for the Spring show and the main season.
         Somewhere in here we had dinner with Alison Jenkins and her partner Jonathan. Alison confirmed that she will come on board for the Spring show and the main season. She was on our Spring Tour last year and was Musical Director for the Motherlode Tour in 2008. She plays accordion, tin whistle and piano. Although she plays in a couple of bands she has managed to fit us in and will make a great addition.
 During this time we were auditioning pianists, trying to find the person with just the right chops, high skill level and good attitude to join our cast.  After several online interviews with various folks Robert Ahad came over from Victoria for an audition.  We had talked to him on the phone so had a good sense of who he was.  Amy handed him some sheet music and chord charts. Picking up the chord charts, with Amy at his left side, he played his way through “Tomorrow”, a difficult patter song that Amy sang last year. He stuck right with Amy and aced it.  Within an hour they could have performed the number on stage.  Ten minutes later Robert was hired and had accepted.  So all in all we will have a great sound and a great cast.
Others returning this year are Amy, of course, and Matt Quick who will bring a new one-man show. Elliott Loran, who toured with us and was "on the street”, is also rejoining us for the fall. 






 Photo Richard Wright: Christmas Revelers at Burnaby Village


And, great news, the talented, experienced Barkervillian, Queen Victoria herself, Danette Boucher will be joining the cast with her own one-woman show. Danette will also be taking on some FOH duties and assisting with interpretation. Those who are BV regulars will surely know Danette from the street a few years ago. We are pleased and honored that, as she is now a Wells resident, she can join our cast.
         Our plan is that Danette will be presenting her own show (the title as yet not firmly decided) in the mornings, a new show, likely at 11 a.m. This show will present one of Barkerville’s many stories and will be of interest to those who want the facts, the guts, the real story. Her show will be directed by James Douglas.
         Wow, what a lineup!
         Our tech crew is not all confirmed yet but we expect some folks, like Marcello, to return, and some new folks.
        One of the highlights of this coastal month for me, just the day before we left, was working with Amy’s brother Paul, a computer systems analyst and programmer with Rainmaker.  Back in 1985-6 the Friends of Barkerville had many gold rush records compiled in a database by summer students with the aim of creating an early census.  These included all the gold mining licenses from 1861 to 1871, a total of 12,126 records.  These had been written on Kaypros using the CP/m operating system and input into dbase 2, one of the best databases of the time.  However, the only known copy of these records now resides as part of the database at Barkerville.  Other updated versions had been lost.
         Paul assured me we could transfer the material. So we blew off the dust, fired up the old Kaypro II, made sure the files were still intact after 25 years, transferred them to a comma deliminated .txt file and began to figure out a system to link the Kaypro with his Linux OS. It took awhile – about 8 hours. First, the disc-to-disc plan did not work. Paul’s old 5.25 drives were NFG. Then we (he) used two modem programs to make the link-up. Unlike popular TV shows this stuff takes more than a couple of minutes. It was fun to try and remember all the old commands to make things work. 1985 computers usually just give you a blank screen to begin your work. Then some hours later we had a Eureka moment as the files started migrating.  By about 7 pm we had all the files transferred to a .txt file, migrated to a CD and I was reading them on my Mac and transferring them into Filemaker Pro 10, the leading database system for Mac. I have to say all I did was take out a few screws, mess with 5.25 floppy discs and keep Paul company. He did all the heavy lifting. Thanks Paul.
         It will take a few days to clean up the files and reconfigure some fields but now these important files are available in two more versions - .txt files and Filemaker Pro CSV files. Along with other files FOB input they offer a window into the population of the creeks in the early formative gold rush years.
         My database, which is becoming a life’s work, which adds even more records including all the area vital stats, graves, newspaper obits and various other records, now has 21,000 entries. Being a relational database fields can be compared, so some interesting stats are emerging.  But that is a whole new blog.
       This should be one of our best years yet and we are all anxious to get started.  Stay tuned for more information.


© Richard Wright 2010