Lard tunderin’ bye’s!
If that means anything to you, then you’ve likely met a Newfoundlander. The odds are good you have, as tens of thousands of Newfies—we say that endearingly—have moved from The Rock to Alberta for work.
Newfies have their own cuisine and culture, so it can be tough for our East Coast neighbours in Alberta when they can’t make it home for Christmas. But fear not, because Whizgiggling Productions—Newfie slang for “acting silly or foolish”—is doing their annual production of The Best Little Newfoundland Christmas Pageant…Ever!
Cheryl Jameson is a mainlander, which is anyone who lives west of Newfoundland, but lived in St John’s for four years. There, she performed in and fell in love with the show.
“Then my Newfoundland husband said, ‘Let’s move to Alberta,’ because that’s what you do,” says Jameson, who acts in and produces this year’s production. “When I was here I realized how expensive it can be for people to fly home, so I decided to bring the show here for Newfoundlanders who are landlocked for Christmas. I’ve acted in it every year—except for one year when I was way too pregnant for it to be socially acceptable to play a 14-year-old.”
The play, set in St John’s, revolves around Mrs O’Brien’s task of organizing the annual Christmas pageant after the regular director breaks her leg in an altercation with a moose—a nod to a classic Newfoundland problem. But the pageant gets complicated when some ne’er-do-well youth, the Herdsmen, show up to audition because they heard there would be free food.
Hilarity ensues as the rapscallions turn the normally sedate pageant on its head. But everyone learns the true meaning of Christmas through the eyes of these misunderstood teens.
“The story is fantastic,” Jameson says. “It’s universally funny and sweet. And there are a few tears because it is quite touching. But you’re crying in a beautiful way.”
She says you can always tell when Newfies are in the audience because they laugh at the jokes that are specific to the culture. People have told her that watching the play is the “closest I’ll get to being home this Christmas.”
Besides the liberal salting of Newfie humour and language, the show also feature some regional delicacies like Jam Jams cookies.
“We had one guy who came out from the show and said the only thing that could make it better was if there were Jam Jams,” Jameson says. “And we had them; he was so excited. We were like, ‘nailed it!'”
Of course, Jameson says you don’t have to be from Newfoundland to enjoy the show—but it will help you appreciate the special culture unique to the Maritime province.
“Everyone knows a Newfoundlander,” she says. “Everyone works with one, or has one as a neighbour or a friend.”
Thu, Dec 18 – Mon, Dec 22
(7:30 pm; 2 pm Saturday and Sunday matinees)
Directed by Cheryl Jameson
Varscona Theatre, $20 – $24