In the books

40th Labrador Creative Arts Festival ends with spectacular finale

Bonnie Learning
Published on November 25, 2015

Noreen Heighton, co-founder of the Labrador Creative Arts Festival, says as long as students keep creating their own plays, the spirit of the LCAF will remain intact. Heighton was in Happy Valley-Goose Bay this week for the 40th anniversary of the festival.

©Bonnie Learning/The Labradorian

It was a spectacular way in which to end off a spectacular 40 years of the Labrador Creative Arts Festival (LCAF).

Current and former students from across Labrador — plus others — came together on stage Tuesday night with an amazing show at the Lawrence O’Brien Arts Centre to cap off a jam-packed, week-long run.

“It couldn’t have gone any better,” said festival coordinator Fiona Andersen.

“What a way for 40 years to be celebrated.”

This year’s festival theme was ‘coming home.’ Andersen explained that Tim Borlase, co-founder of the festival, took snippets of student plays from over the last 40 years that related to that theme, and directed a show where each school performed that small piece that their school originally presented. Also taking part were other groups such as the Mokami Players and more.

Coupled with the lighting, sound and technology components, Andersen said the show was brilliant.

“I’ve never seen the stage like it,” she said. “It was just the most amazing piece of theatre. It was fabulous. They all came through.”

Andersen said there were some amazing performances by students over the last week.

“This festival has to continue, it really does,” said Andersen, who wrapped up her own time as coordinator this week.

“These kids can do anything, they can be anything, they can go anywhere.”

Andersen said from the visiting artists — who were all from Labrador and LCAF alumni — to the billets, drivers, committee members, co-founders Tim Borlase and Noreen Heighton, and especially the students, made this year’s festival the best yet.

“Anyone who did anything to help, it was a great 40th celebration.”


This was Noreen Heighton’s first time back for the LCAF since 2001.

She said as co-founder of the festival back in 1975, she didn’t look as far ahead as 40 years down the road and the continued success that it would be.

“We hoped that it would continue, but it really depended on, at the time, how easy it would be to bring people together,” she recalled. “And it also depended on the interest of the teachers and the students and schools and then there was the change in the school boards to one school board.

“All these things that could have had a bad effect on the festival, but it turned out that hasn’t been the case,” she continued. “The spirit and the idea of attending the festival is still as strong as it was 40 years ago. So we’re very fortunate for that.”

Heighton said it was also nice that all the visiting artists this year were from Labrador.

“Having all these youthful visiting artists…they’re very proud to be back and we’re very proud to have them. They have proven beyond a doubt that they have learned a lot from being part of the festival.”

One of those visiting artist was Ossie Michelin, a freelance journalist from North West River.

During the week, he visited most schools in the Upper Lake Melville area, as well as in Natuashish, teaching video production and filmmaking.

“It’s really nice that all the visiting artists grew up doing the festival. Everyone’s gone down different paths in their lives, but the festival has really impacted all of us. It’s really neat to see the influence it’s had and it also feels good to give back to the up and coming generation of artists.”

Heighton said her main interest in the festival has always been the stage performances.

“We always wanted that to be student based, student focused. And that hasn’t changed. I’m the adjudicator this year, so I took every opportunity to find out how kids were writing their plays, how they were getting them ready to bring to the festival and that has not changed. If anything, it is better over the 40 years because everyone now fully expects that kids write the play, teachers stand back and help them with various theatrical things in the presentation of the play.”

She said all the plays presented this week have been strongly student focused and very strongly student created.

“As long as that keeps happening, I think the festival is still intact,” she said. “It’s all about the kids.”