Charlie Rhindress (playwright, actor, and director) was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, 9 May 1966. He has written eight full-length plays, written or co-written many dinner theatre plays, and scripted two plays for teens (Barton 2004). With his wife Karen Valanne, he is the co-founder and former co-artistic director of Live Bait Theatre based in Sackville, New Brunswick. Started in 1988, Live Bait Theatre is one of only three professional English-language theatre companies in New Brunswick. All of Rhindress’ plays have premiered there. Live Bait Theatre was presented with an Arts Award of Merit in 1999 from the Lieutenant Governor.
Rhindress has a deep understanding of Maritime life and this translates into his plays, which convey the feeling and preoccupations of specific times and places, thereby recreating the experience of small-town sensibility. The best example of this is his play Maritime Way of Life (1997), a farce about a small-town mining family that uses exaggeration and dark humour to convey various stereotypes about the Maritimes. Through the use of local references, slang, and dialect, Rhindress brings a folksy image of the Maritimes into his work in a critical way. Maritime Way of Life (1997) was nominated as Best New Play at the Canadian Comedy Awards in 2000.
His plays allow audiences to connect directly to characters and their rural lifestyle, and although his narratives tend toward exaggeration, most audience members recognize the situations faced by the characters and the ingrown feeling that accompanies the Maritime experience. This is true of his other works, including Flying on Her Own (2000), a play about the life of Rita MacNeil, and Home and Away (2003), a musical about hockey. Both plays capture distinctive aspects of Maritime culture that describe and stereotype this place. His plays are still produced in theatre companies around the Maritimes, such as Neptune Theatre, Theatre Orangeville, Mulgrave Road Theatre, and Victoria Playhouse (Barton 2004).
Danielle LeBlanc, Winter 2008
St. Thomas University
Bibliography of Primary Sources
Rhindress, Charlie. Elvis Presley Is Alive and Well and Living in Sackville. 1992.
---. Flying On Her Own. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2008.
---. Gates Motel. 1994.
---. Guilty! The Story of the Great Amherst Mystery. N.p.: n.p.: 1991.
---. Home and Away. 2003.
---. Maritime Way of Life. 1997.
.---. “Maritime Way of Life.” Marigraph: Gauging the Tides of Drama from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Ed. Bruce Barton. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2004. 5-49.
---. Under the Night (1996).
Bibliography of Secondary Sources
Barnard, Elissa. “Curtain to Open on Summer Theatre.” The Chronicle Herald [Halifax, NS] 21 June 2007.
Barton, Bruce, ed. Marigraph: Gauging the Tides of Drama from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Price Edward Island. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2004.
Heath, Jeffrey, M. Profiles in Canadian Literature 8. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1991.
Live Bait Theatre. 2008. 19 Nov. 2008