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Interview with Foster Festival’s Lovely Artistic Director

Patricia Vanstone

By Marthe Fraser

Canada’s Foster Festival, along with Players Workshop, presents Old Love, a Norm Foster favorite starring well-known stage and screen actors Booth Savage and Janet Laine-Green. Artistic Director Patricia Vanstone brought Old Love to SMA, and I was able to ask her a few questions.

Martha Fraser: Trish, tell us about the Foster Festival. When and how did it begin?

Patricia Vanstone: In 1997, Executive Director Emily Oriold, then a high school senior, saw her first Foster play, The Melville Boys, in the Blyth Festival Theater. Preparing for postsecondary theater school that coming fall, Emily was instantly a Foster fan. Fast-forward to November 2014, Emily approached Norm with her vision for a theater festival honoring him. He suggested she partner with me as artistic director. Since I had starred in the 1984 world premiere of The Melville Boys and had directed that 1997 Blyth production that had inspired her, we joked that our partnership was meant to be.

Lots of people had talked about a “Foster festival.” We made it happen. In June 2016, we opened our inaugural season in Cairns Hall¾a tribute to Norm—with Humour with Heart in the Heart of Niagara. Last year, we produced three Foster plays, welcomed 7,000 people, did over 56 performances, and are now embarking on our third season, with sales climbing again.

MF: Did Norm write Old Love for himself?

PV: Although Norm and I performed Old Love several years ago in Ajijic, Mexico, he didn’t write it for himself. I call Old Love Norm’s Valentine play in which hope springs eternal. Bud and Molly intersect at various points over the years as each weathers the ups and downs of their first loves. Although the play is populated with a number of characters, it can be played with a larger cast; but I think it’s most charming¾and a bit of a high-divin’ act—when two actors assume all the roles. The audience really enjoys filling in the blanks based on great acting from our two wonderful performers, real-life husband and wife Janet-Laine Green and Booth Savage.

MF: What brought you to San Miguel?

PV: After we did the show in Ajiic, we wanted to bring Norm’s work to SMA. We’ve been talking to Michael (Gottlieb) at Players Workshop for a couple of years, and the stars finally aligned. As artistic director of the Foster Festival, I’m very interested in showcasing Canada’s best-loved playwright internationally. I’d love to think of San Miguel as the winter home of “The Foster Fiesta.”

MF: We’d love that as well, Trish. Thanks so much for giving us a Foster Fiesta this week!

Tickets are available at the Teatro Santa Ana.



Old Love

Fri–Sat, March 9–10, 7pm

Matinee: Sun, Mar 11, 3pm

Teatro Santa Ana, La Biblioteca

Reloj 50A

250 pesos at the box office


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