A little out of the way place sliding down the west coast of Newfoundland right up alongside Gros Morne. Cow Head. Named, I suspect, for the water/land formation somewhat like the headlands my Dad talked about on his old farm. But I don’t know where Cow comes from. It is Newfoundland, though, and all their names are wonderfully colourful.
Weary travelers, we booked in to the Inn and bought tickets for the adjoining theatre. Why not? Something to do for the evening.
What we found as we sat with the small off-season audience was a tightly-knit, smoothly performed play about Myra Bennett, the nurse who came to Daniel’s Harbour and brought her considerable skills. They needed everything and she was ready to give all she had. She was contracted to stay for two years but told herself she couldn’t leave if there was no road yet. She married, raised children, ran a home, nursed people all over the area, sometimes traveling vast distances, and lived to be one hundred years old. Eventually the road came but she had long since become part of the landscape.
The play, Tempting Providence, was a wonderful surprise, nurse Bennett beautifully brought to life by Deirdre Gillard-Rowlings, and the other three characters as ably shown. For almost two hours my husband and I sat transfixed and I never looked at my watch once.
The set was a large reddish brown table with four chairs and a big cloth, yellowish in colour. What they did with that set was amazing. They made a boat, a sled, a nurse’s waiting room, a kitchen and many other settings, all while talking and carrying on the business of the play. It was seamless and professional. And we loved it.
If I lived here I would see every one of the seven productions to be played this summer. How exceptional for those who live here and the lucky ‘visitors’ (not tourists as we were told in St. Anthony) who happen upon this spot of gold as we did.
As the tide goes out we leave but another group will flow in again in just a few hours. And while the translation of Gros Morne is roughly Big Ugly, the visitors will find the exact opposite.
The play will be performed in 2012 in Richmond, BC, Orangeville, ON, London, ON, and Halifax, NS.