Arts Feature

Donna Creighton, star of Northern Daughter, basks in Canadiana (photo credit: Donna Creighton)

AlvegoRoot Productions presents Northern Daughter at The Arts Project (203 Dundas Street), October 22 – 25, 8pm & Oct 25, 2pm matinee. Seating is limited; call 519-642-2767 or order online.

Northern Daughter comes of age

- Amie Ronald-Morgan

It’s been a creative pursuit for the better part of a decade.

Now, musician Donna Creighton is one paddle away from unveiling her one-woman show at The Arts Project. Onstage from October 22 – 25, Northern Daughter is the final production of AlvegoRoot Theatre’s 2014 season.

It’s the first play for Creighton and the premiere of a unique ‘auto-bio-fictional’ show that melds storytelling and music to tell the tale of Josephine, a girl raised in the wilds of the Northern Ontario outback before escaping to the city.

The Northern Daughter project was born nine years ago with a song bearing the same name that Creighton wrote for a demo recording.

“My childhood was spent in two rural places, so I took some stories that started with kernels of truth from when I was a kid, but then they became fictional as I grew. Eventually, I decided I wanted to write a play based on the song about a girl who grows up in the rural part of bush country,” Creighton explained.

Quintessentially Canadian, the story takes place on a canoe, with Josephine returning to the lake of her childhood with her guitar and memories of people from her past, once again surrounded by nature that so profoundly influences the way of life.

Someone important has died, and Josephine must make good on a promise she made. Creighton not only portrays Josephine though the ages, but four other colourful characters.

“I spend a lot of time travelling, so I see and listen to a lot of people’s perspectives on what it means to be Canadian. I wanted to investigate through my own creative way what it is to be Canadian. The majority of our entertainment takes place around water – lakes, rivers, rocks, fishing, swimming up North at the cottage,” Creighton said. 

“So from a Canadian perspective, everyone can relate to going to the cottage, but what is it really like to grow up in that area? Nature took on a very distinct character. You learn different things when you grow up in the city,” she added.

Creighton has been paddling through this journey with a little help from her friends, evolving her idea through a series of workshops, including a playwriting intensive with Governor General Award-winner Vern Thiessen in Italy. 

Director Louise Fagan has been onboard since the start, advising from the earliest public readings of the play to joining in as co-writer in the final stages of script development.  

“Louise has been incredible. I have fantastic people in my corner; it has been one of the most justifying experiences I’ve ever had for doing what I do,” Creighton remarked.

A long-time musician, including 12 years with the London-based folk group Sirens, Creighton has only recently returned to the theatre stage since her university days at Western. A series of performances bolstered Creighton to put the finishing touches on Northern Daughter, including her first-ever solo concert, Donna Back from the Dead, at Aeolian Hall in late 2012.

“That was my first time alone after having played in bands and ensembles forever, and I did all the music from the show. After that I did (the AlvegoRoot play) Colleening, based on the poetry of Colleen Thibaudeau; then I played Teresa Harris in the (Pendas Productions) The Dream Life of Teresa Harris at Eldon House; that was my first role where I played five people. I came off of that project and said okay Louise, I’m ready! Let’s finish it. I now know that I can do it,” Creighton said.

The fruits of her labours, and those of her creative team throughout the years, come to bear with the world premiere on October 22, 8pm. An EP with music from the play will be available for purchase at the venue.

Poignant and funny, and punctuated with great music including the catchy, folksy titular song, Northern Daughter promises to be one canoe ride you won’t soon forget. 



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