Triemstra-Johnston to span generations for 'Wing Night at the Boot' - Aug. 2, 2018
BY DENNY SCOTT
Since the last time Jennifer Triemstra-Johnston worked at the Blyth Festival, she has decided to make the village her full-time home, making her newest role at the Festival all the more fitting.
Triemstra-Johnston, who has worked on 10 productions at the Festival in either wardrobe or design capacities, has been chosen to put together the costumes for the Blyth-centric Wing Night at the Boot.
The play, which is being written collectively by the company, was still in development weeks before its premiere. That means that Triemstra-Johnston isn’t completely sure what the final product will look like, though she has her starting point.
“I went to the Huron County Museum and started pulling historical photos,” she said. “[Director Severn Thompson] said to focus on the earlier part of Blyth’s last 140 years of history since there are first-hand accounts of the clothing from the 1960s and onward.”
Triemstra-Johnston struck gold in her search at the museum, finding, among other artifacts and documents, a great photo from Benmiller in 1871 showcasing a picnic.
“People were wearing their everyday dress, which really gives you an idea of what a night at a local bar might look like,” she said. “I’ve offered that research to the group and that will show how the clothes will make a character.”
Triemstra-Johnston’s to-do list also included speaking to Brock and the late Janis Vodden, local historians, to further investigate the dress of Blyth Inn visitors over the ages.
Triemstra-Johnston started at the Blyth Festival in 1996 working on Barndance Live!, another collective production, though under the direction of Severn’s father Paul Thompson.
“Since then, Blyth has kind of felt like my old stomping ground,” she said.
Triemstra-Johnston has become, in her opinion, adept at working with collectives since her first brush with Paul Thompson, though she doesn’t exclusively work with them. Her most recent efforts in Blyth, for example, were Billy Bishop Goes to War and Kitchen Radio in 2014.
As for the tight timeline with the play being in development, she said that’s nothing new for her.
Triemstra-Johnston is excited to be working with Severn Thompson, saying that once things get underway, she’ll be able to see the similarities and differences between her and her father’s way of handling a collective creation.
Those looking to touch base with the costume designer will be able to find her at Pick-a-Posie costumes in Blyth. The new storefront for the shop is just steps away from Memorial Hall. Visitors can attend the store throughout the season, providing a chance to see Triemstra-Johnston at work as well as a chance for people to pick up some handmade costumes. She will also be working on some special tourist attractions, including photo opportunities for visitors, that are sure to make theatre-goers’ visits to the village more exciting.