Photography lesson

The rural life lesson comes to the OTH stage

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Ian Bell and Dan Needles are about to teach people a thing or two about rural life.

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Waterford’s Old Town Hall will premiere A Field Guide to Rural Living, created by and featuring Needles and Bell. The show will begin on Saturday March 5 at 7 p.m. followed by a second show on Sunday March 6 at 2 p.m.

The play, described as “a tour of today’s rural roads in story and song,” acts as a field guide for people moving to rural centres.

“Cities and suburbs are spilling out into the Ontario countryside, and a slight mess is once again doing the rounds…rural culture shock. Fortunately, it is easily treated and, as usual, an ounce of prevention is better than cure,” reads a description of the show posted on the Old Town Hall Facebook page.

Needles, a playwright known for his plays of Wingfield Farm, which have appeared on stages across Canada, said he wanted audiences to feel at home while watching his new collaborative production.

“It’s about getting to know rural Ontario, which is very fascinating,” said Needles.

Rural Ontario is built on strong agricultural foundations like those of its community of Collingwood and Norfolk. The current generation may not be agricultural, but they have inherited a farmer’s way of thinking, he said.

Bell is a folk musician and former museum curator, who grew up in Waterford and now lives in Paris, Ontario. He said he wanted audiences to see themselves in the situations presented on the show.

“That’s what people really like, they laugh, smile and even wipe away a tear. It’s always fun to be a part of, whether you’re listening or on stage.

In 2018, Bell and Needles collaborated on a piece called True Confessions from the Ninth Concession, which was also a mix of Needles’ narration and Bell’s songs.

“This show will be structured the same way,” Bell said. “I always enjoy working with Dan, he’s such a great writer. It’s fun to have new stories being set up for this show. It’s also a great opportunity for me to write new material.

Tickets can be purchased from the Old Town Hall website at

The Waterford Old Town Hall Theater will follow COVID-19 protocols.