The Stories

Dancing swing in pre-war Ontario, surviving winter in the backwoods of Quebec, romancing the folk tales and ballads of Scottish settlers - Deborah's stories take us far away from ourselves, dropping us into the  lives and times of others.

 

Hit a link below to find out about Deborah's performances.

"I could have laughed louder … some of it was so funny, but I didn’t want to embarrass my friends"

 

Hit the icon below to hear Deborah's interview with North Country Public Radio.

At The Canoe Club Dance

Featuring Deborah Dunleavy as Bea Tompkins

Premier Performances November 8 – 10, 2013

Dreams In Motion/Ourtown Theatre

 

“At The Canoe Club Dance” is a one-woman play featuring the music of Gershwin, Porter and other great composers during the Swing Era.

 

The vision for the work was born out of a storyteller-in-residence position that Deborah held at the Arthur Child Heritage Museum in Gananoque in 2010. During her time at the museum Deborah collected over 30 hours of stories from people who remembered the years before 1945.

 

“The seniors told me amazing stories about how a test pilot crashed his plane on Blue Mountain, how they drank the river water, and how they chewed paving tar like bubble gum. There were stories about going to the Delaney Cinema, learning to swim, riding an old train called the Suzie Push and taking the steamships to Kingston. Many people recalled fondly the Thursday night dances at the Canoe Club.”

 

To tell these fascinating and true stories Deborah created a fictitious character, Bea Tompkins. Bea is a combination of several women that were interviewed. Bea is quick witted, full of spunk, and she never feels sorry for herself.

 

The story starts in the present. Bea is an elderly woman living in a retirement home and while she cannot always remember what she had for breakfast, she recalls with great clarity her years as a singer fronting a Swing Band on Thursday nights at the Canoe Club dance.

 

“This is a passionate story about a young woman who falls in love with Jimmy, the boy next door. He eventually goes off to war and dies on the beaches of Normandy. The theme of aging and how we perceive the elderly is foremost in the work. Bea is not lonely, sad or despondent. She is always bright and cheerful and sees the humor in her frailties as an elderly person but at no time is she ready to throw in the towel.” - Dunleavy

 

In 2012 the Ontario Arts Council Word of Mouth program awarded Deborah a grant to write “At The Canoe Club Dance”.  This year the Town Of Gananoque awarded her another grant to bring the play to the stage in November 2013.

 

AT THE CANOE CLUB DANCE

Written and Performed by Deborah Dunleavy

Premier Performances November 8 – 10, 2013

Dreams In Motion/Ourtown Theatre

365 William St. South, Gananoque

Advance sales: 613-382-6700

 

 

 

Battlefield Petticoats

Women in the Wars of 1812

Portrayed by Deborah Dunleavy

 

Welcome to Widow Wilson’s Tavern. The year is 1813 and the war has been raging for over a year. Widow Wilson hears all the gossip from soldiers, sailors, travelers and passersby. And she is a fine host, willing to offer you lodgings and a pint of her home-made spruce beer. Meet Abigail Stone, the mill owner’s wife who was wounded by one of Forsythe’s militiamen. Hear Anne Provost’s tragic description of how her paramour fell in battle. Delight in Alicia Cockburn’ complaints of the hardships she must endure as an officer’s wife.

 

Storyteller Deborah Dunleavy expertly steps into the heart and soul of each character. Dressed in period costume she shares the hardships and challenges of women during the Wars of 1812.

 

Through story and song Ms Dunleavy weaves a fine dramatic tapestry that moves from comedic to tragic. “Battlefield Petticoats” is engaging and endearing from beginning to end.

 

Audience comments for performance at the Arthur Child Heritage Museum:

 

“I could have laughed louder … some of it was so funny, but I didn’t want to embarrass my friends.”

 

“She is wonderful. I learned so much about a time and era that is seldom talked about.”

 

“The music was lovely and she has such a beautiful voice”

 

“Thank you for bringing this play to us. It was a lovely afternoon and we thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Deborah is just great.”

 

See scenes from “Battlefield Petticoats”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yz9E-urwtb0

Storytelling for Young People

 

Circle Around the Sun: Ages 5 - 10

Deborah spins stories and songs from around the world in this interactive performance. Meet the hungry Naga from Indonesia or the greedy Kudu from Africa. Imagine growing wings with children from long ago China and discover how the beautiful mouse from Japan married the greatest being of all. The audience is invited to echo, chant, clap and sing along.

 

Fool's Wisdom: Ages 8 -12

Clowns, jesters and buffoons from far and wide appear in this playful presentation. Meet Kassim, the want-to-be wizard, visit the imaginary town of Gotham, and discover the magic of the Japanese nose fan. As the audience soon discovers, a little learning from the friendly follies of a few goes a long way.

 

Northern Nights: Ages 12 and up

Deborah tells of frightening ghosts, shape-shifting dragons and flying canoes - all from the early days in Canada. With more stories than there is time to tell, Deborah carefully selects the ones best suited to delight her audience. She blends together a fine brew of legend, folklore, adventure and song.

 

 

Storytelling Performances

 

Beaver Hats and Bagpipes - Amazing and Sometimes True Stories of New Scotland 
Deborah pays tribute to the Scottish settlers with haunting ballads from Nova Scotia and humorous lumberjack songs from Ontario and Quebec. She weaves in true accounts of the brave men and women who left the homeland in search of love and adventure. And she spins delightful folk tales that came over on the hearts and the lips of the Scottish ancestors.

 

She Who Dares
Deborah weaves a soulful array of stories about women featuring clairvoyants, specters, and heroines from folk tales, legends and historical truths. From dramatic to comedic, Deborah steps into the heart and soul of her characters bringing them to life with the magic of her voice and facial expressions.

Northern Nights

Deborah tells of frightening ghosts, shape-shifting dragons and flying canoes - all from the early days in Canada. With more stories than there is time to tell, Deborah carefully selects the ones best suited to delight her audience. She blends together a fine brew of legend, folklore, adventure and song.

 

Snowflakes and Cinnamon

Step back in time to the days of sledding and snow shoes, of candy canes and Quebec heaters, of winter magic and wonder. Deborah sings songs and tells stories guaranteed to warm the hearts and minds of all on a winter’s eve.