Since 1993, the vibrant and unique history of the Placentia area has been brought to life by the Placentia Area Theatre d’Heritage (PATH). Casting their spell, their acting troupe has effortlessly transported their audiences back in time. It may be to the very early years of Placentia when the French and English were in a vice grip, each vying for control of Placentia. At other times, the plays have taken residents and visitors alike to sometimes boisterous, sometimes sombre times that characterised the more recent decades of the Placentia area.
It all began in 1992 when Parks Canada expressed an interest in boosting the visitors who would journey annually to Castle Hill National Historic Site of Canada (NHSC). The idea was to make the visit to Castle Hill NHSC a more stimulating and delightful experience. Was there a way to inject some life and energy into the history that characterised the region during the time when Castle Hill and its array of forts guarded Plaisance? This was from around 1693-1811.
After meetings with various local groups, the answer seemed to be some kind of theatrical performance or programme. And so, Placentia Area Theatre d’Heritage was born. The first play was a ten minute vignette produced by the Royal Re-enactors, the name adopted by the students who wrote the play. Then, in the following year, Sheilagh Guy Murphy put pen to paper, writing and researching “Faces of Fort Royal.” It was performed for the first time in 1994. Since this point, it has become the signature piece of PATH. After its inaugural season, PATH would commit itself to finding unique ways to perform and share the rich brocade of history that defined the Placentia area.
In Recent Years
PATH produced “Mysterious Visitors,” in partnership with the Atlantic Charter Foundation. Written by Agnes Walsh, the play was set in 1941 and revolved around a few local residents who were curious about the hubbub that seemed to have arrived in their tiny corner of Newfoundland. It was, of course, what turned out to be the historic meeting of Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Britain and President Delano Roosevelt of the United States. Musicals such as “An Evening with the USO” took audiences back to the 1950s, a time when the United Service Organization (USO) visited the United States Naval Base in Argentia.
PATH has remained as one of the groups and organisations at the cultural heart of the Placentia area. Their goal has not only been to bring life to the history of the region. It has also been their willingness to be a valuable member of their community, be it in their efforts to encourage students to spread their wings on the stage or in the support that PATH offers to local businesses.
They recently added a new addition to their office which will serve as a box office and no doubt additional space for things such as wardrobe and props. PATH is certainly growing and evolving. And given its current history, there is every indication that PATH will remain as one of the cornerstones of the culture and heritage of the Placentia area.