November 25, 2012, London:
It's all official - Dear Johnny Deere will be back next summer for a re-mount at the Blyth Festival (June 11-22) and a run at Lighthouse Theatre, Port Dover (Aug 20 - Sept 7). It sounds as though the entire cast is back, but that remains to be confirmed. This is a new (2012) show by Ken Cameron, based on the songs of Fred Eaglesmith, and the Port Dover gig is particularly significant, since that's Fred's home base when he's not touring. Good summer ahead!
October 22, 2012, London:
Welcome, delegates to Ontario Contact! Information on The Donnelly Sideshow can be found here.
October 4, 2012, London:
Done Fringing, looking forward to a weekend in Wakefield with The Donnelly Sideshow, hoping to get down to New Orleans to see The Chaser in its finished form, holding auditions for The Cricket on the Hearth and doing workshop for the PlayWrights Cabaret at the Grand. (And hearing talk of a Dear Johnny Deere remount in Blyth next summer.)
September 17, 2012, Vancouver:
More awards for Underbelly! - the Georgia Straight Critics' Pick Award and the Cultchinator Award, which means that the show will be part of the 2013-14 season at The Cultch.
September 15, 2012, Vancouver:
A great tour wrap-up for Underbelly(wriiten and performed by Jayson McDonald, directed by me). It was the "Artists' Pick" for the Edmonton Fringe, and then made the front cover of the Georgia Straight here in Vancouver. And here are the reviews from Plank Magazine, Georgia Straight, (Re)View from the House and The Snipe.
Congratulations to Karie Richards, who wrote and performed her first solo show, birdy. Here's the review from Plank.
And I got a review in Plank Magazine as well, for my own show, The Donnelly Sideshow.
August 12, 2012:
There's the Saskatoon Fringe, done and put to bed. During the final week, besides performing The Donnelly Sideshow, I was also directing The Chaser, by Bremner Duthie, which is heading off to the Edmonton Fringe. It's about the last act on the last night of the last big vaudville theatre in New York.
Now I'm heading home to get Karie Richard's Birdy ready for the Vancouver Fringe in September.
August 7, 2012:
I finally saw Jayson McDonald's Underbelly again, 14 month after I directed it for the London Fringe. I LOVED it. Here's the review from the Saskatoon StarPhoenix.
August 5, 2012:
Review of The Donnelly Sideshow in the StarPhoenix. "Jeff Culbert spins a great yarn, ... and he does it with the flair of an entertainer who leaves you wanting more."
August 4, 2012:
On to Saskatoon. In this radio interview broadcast on CFCA FM, Ishmael Daro talks to me about the Donnelly legacy and The Donnelly Sideshow. My segment takes up the first twelve minutes of the show.
July 24, 2012:
Here are the first reviews for The Donnelly Sideshow from the Hamilton Fringe.
In other news, I directed Jayson McDonald's Underbelly, a tribute to the Beat writers and William Burroughs in particular. It premiered at the London Fringe in 2011, and he's finally taking it on the road. The first reviews are in, from CBC Manitoba and The Winnipeg Free Press.
July 21, 2012:
Trying out the Hamilton Fringe for the first time. Looks good so far - good venue, good tech, nice neighbourhood.
July 13, 2012:
The Donnelly Sideshow is back up and running - this time in a barn at Fanshawe Piuoneer Village. I'm performing with a barn swallow that's nesting in the rafters. I'm also directing a new solo piece by Bremner Duthie call The Chaser. This one will premiere at the Edmonton Fringe in August. Bremner's shows are always dark, funny and musical - check out his stuff here.
July 8, 2012:
That's it for Dear Johnny Deere at the Blyth Festival. Great cast and crew, and a great run. If all goes well, there will be a re-mount next summer in Port Dover (Fred Eaglesmith's home base) and in the meantime, an original cast recording is in the works.
So now it's a sharp swing into Donnelly mode.
July 3, 2012:
Heading into the home stretch of Dear Johnny Deere, here's a review from Beat Magazine.
June 29, 2012:
Another great review of Dear Johnny Deere, this one from Richard Ouzounian of the Toronto Star : "Bring this show to Toronto. But first make an original cast recording."
June 25, 2012:
Great audience response to Dear Johnny Deere. And here's a review by Joe Belanger in the London Free press. "Dear Johnny Deere is like taking a ride on an emotional roller-coaster: It will make you laugh, cry, smile and want to cheer, whether you're a Fredhead, farmer or city dweller."
The review was accompanied by an article about Fred Eaglesmith, whose songs provided the foundation for the play. It includes the following quip from Fred: "You know, it's like nobody even noticed the farms disappearing, probably because it wasn't 'cool' to be a farmer. Well, we get our garlic from China now, congratulations."
June 18, 2012:
A preview article about Dear Johnny Deere.
June 6, 2012:
Fred Eaglesmith songs in Dear Johnny Deere:
Yellow Barley Straw
Spookin' the Horses
John Deere B
I Wanna Buy Your Truck
Bench Seat Baby
Wilder Than Her
Time to Get a Gun
Worked Up Field
June 5, 2012:
The cast of Dear Johnny Deere at the Blyth Festival:
JD (Jack) Nicholsen
on fiddle: Capucine Onn
multi-instrumentalist and maestro: David Archibald
playwright: Ken Cameron
director: Eric Coates
lighting design: Rebecca Picherac
set and costume design:Pat Flood
stage manager: Dini Conte
ASM: Heather Thompson
June 4, 2012:
Please consider this website blacked out for the day. I am joining a HUGE number of environmental and democratic organizartions that are taking action together to oppose the federal government's omnibus bill, which is alarmingly anti-environmental and anti-democratic. For information on the campaign, the issues and the participating groups, please go to http://www.blackoutspeakout.ca/.
May 16, 2012
The final Boneyard Man show of the season will take place on Saturday May 26th. Last chance to see! Then it's up to Blyth to start rehearsals for Dear Johnny Deere.
March 16, 2012:
Great news - I'll be doing a show at the Blyth Festival this summer. Dear Johnny Deere is a new play by Ken Cameron, based on the songs of Fred Eaglesmith. June 19 - July 7, directed by Eric Coates. Blyth is an amazing theatre, located in a small village inland from Goderich Ontario on Lake Huron, and it has produced over 100 premieres of new Canadian plays. I always hoped to work there some day and that day is coming soon.
I'll be playing MacAllister, the small-town newspaper editor who mixes it up with the other characters, but also serves as the narrator of the story. Should be fun.
In other gigs, the Boneyard Man is going strong, with two new episodes every month. Upcoming performances: March 23, April 28 and May 26. The show is performed as if it were a live radio broadcast from the 30s-40s era. We describe it as "Radio Noir on Stage" and it is a faithful tribute to "The Shadow", but it's a lot funnier.
Feb 27, 2012:
I just received confirmation that I'll be performing at the Piggyback Fringe in Wakefield Quebec in June. I was there with archy and mehitabel in 2009 and 2010 and I loved it. So my 2012 tour with The Donnelly Sideshow looks like this: Lucan, Wakefield, Ottawa, London, Hamilton, Saskatoon and Vancouver.
Dec 1, 2011:
My first confirmed dates for The Donnelly Sideshow in 2012 are rolling in, beginning with two shows in Lucan, ground zero for the Donnelly story. I'll be there on the 132nd anniversary of the murders: February 3rd and 4th*.
*This show was re-scheduled for March 9 and 10, due to illness (mine).
Other dates will be added to the panel to the left as they come in.
Sept 8-18, it's archy and mehitabel at the Vancouver Fringe! Click here for background and media release and photos.
Sept 12, 2011:
Review of archy & mehitabel by Lisa Barratt in Plank Magazine,
And here's a video promo for archy & mehitabel made by the Vancouver Fringe at Strut Studios..
August 31, 2011:
I was asked to contribute a behind-the-scenes blog about my Donnelly show for the CBC website and here it is.
Also, I have three new reviews from my Victoria run. (All require that you scroll down a bit when these pages appear.) They can be found at The Visitorium, Culture Vulture Victoria and Victoria News.
August 24, 2011:
The Donnelly Sideshow review in the Edmonton Sun.
August 15, 2011
First review for The Donnelly Sideshow in Edmonton: Five stars in Vue Weekly.
And here's the review from CBC Manitoba.
And the Winnipeg Free Press.
And the London Free Press.
August 1, 2011
Congratulations to all who made the inaugural Clear Lake Fringe Festival in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, such a success. Long may it prosper.
June 28, 2011
The Donnelly Sideshow is up and running. Good times at the London Fringe this year. A good crop of shows too. Next stop: Regina.
I'm collecting Donnelly stories during this trip, so if you have any memories of your own, or stories that you heard from relatives or teachers or anyone else along the way, send 'em to me via this website.
There's also a CD of the songs from The Donnelly Sideshow, so if you'd like to get a copy, let me know and I'll contact you when they are ready to go out into the world.
February 4th, 2011
Greetings. This is a site for the theatre activities of Jeff Culbert. I am still touring with my solo show archy and mehitabel, but I am also launching a new show that will premiere at the London Fringe this June.
It's called The Donnelly Sideshow.
This will be my take on the Donnelly feud that put my home town of Lucan on the map in the late 19th Century. My great-great grandparents, John and Mary Culbert, made the trip from County Tipperary in Ireland to the wilds of Biddulph Township in Southern Ontario in 1840, four years before the Donnelly family made that same trip.
It was 131 years ago today that five members of the Donnelly family were murdered by their neighbours.
I will be posting details and developments of the show on this site in the days to come, but in the meantime, you can poke through the Donnelly lore at The Official Donnelly Homepage.
If you're interested in archy and mehitabel details, click on the cockroach image to the left. For full reviews, click here, and here's an interview and clips from the show in Wakefield.