SHIP’S COMPANY THEATRE – Making Waves for 40 Years

As the crew gets ready to celebrate 40 Years of Atlantic Canadian Theatre on board the Kipawo, Ship’s Company Theatre’s Artistic Director Laura Vingoe-Cram talks about the 40-year history of the theatre and their reputation of highlighting artists, stories, and communities anchored in the Atlantic region.  We also get a look into how this amazing rural theatre and crew in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia is passionate about delivering high-quality theatrical and music events along with offering quality programs to the community and what might be on the playbill for the next 40 years of waking waves.   


Since before she was even born, Laura Vingoe-Cram has been tied to Parrsboro and the Ship’s Company Theatre. Laura is currently the artistic director at Ship’s Company Theatre. But her connection truly started in 1984 when her mother Mary Vingoe founded the company alongside Michael Fuller. Born in 1991, Laura spent her summers in Parrsboro, staying at Riverview Cottages and falling in love with the town. Though she grew up in Dartmouth, it’s no surprise that she found her calling in her beloved summer home. “I love Parrsboro, I love the Ship, and I love theatre. So, I think all of those things led me here.”

Even as a young girl, Laura could tell that the Ship’s Company Theatre was something special, particularly to rural communities and Atlantic Canada. “I really fell in love with great plays and working with playwrights. And that’s always been a core tenant of the Ship’s mandate—new playwriting, working with playwrights telling Atlantic Canadian stories.” Before the opportunity to apply for the artistic director role arose, Laura and her now-husband planned to be married on the Ship’s deck two years ago. When the job posting came up, she jumped at the chance and was announced as the new artistic director two weeks before her wedding.

The venue itself is steeped in Atlantic Canadian history. The aptly named theatre is constructed from the MV Kipawo. The ship worked as a ferry between Kingsport, Parrsboro, and Wolfville in the Minas basin from 1926 until it was called to be a part of Canada’s naval defense in 1942. After the war, it spent some time in Newfoundland, where it was eventually found in a state of disrepair. In 1982, thanks to the Kipawo Heritage Society, the ship returned to Parrsboro with the goal of restoration and conversion into a cultural heritage centre. Though she was no longer seaworthy, the ship came to be the home of the Ship’s Company Theatre. Initially, the landlocked ship was turned into a makeshift theatre with little more than a tarp tent over the deck. In 2004, it was renovated into what visitors see today, with the original stern and bow still intact and a new deck through the centre. With the building behind and a wooden overhang roof, it still gives the impression of being in a shipyard. 

No matter the stage, this venue has had numerous successes and highlights over its 40 years of performances. One that Laura is proud of is a production called The Summer of Handley Page by Carol Sinclair. “The Handley Page was a World War I aircraft that made an emergency landing in Parrsboro in 1919. The event was a huge moment in Parrsboro history,” she explains. “And so this play was a huge moment in Ship’s history because it told a Parrsboro story.” Since the play was such a turning point for the Ship, the Company is celebrating it by doing a reading of The Summer of Handley Page on July 25.

Over the decades, Ship’s Company Theatre has produced as many as 40 world premiers of Atlantic Canadian plays, and many celebrated playwrights have gotten their start there. Another highlight of the Ship’s history is the production of Chasing Champions by Jacob Sampson. It tells the story of Sam Langford, a Black heavyweight boxer from Nova Scotia. It went on to earn nine Robert Merritt award nominations winning 6 awards.

More recently, the theatre produced Downed Hearts by two-time Governor General Award-winning playwright Catherine Banks. At the time of the interview, Downed Hearts was nominated for 11 Robert Merritt awards and won in six categories. The ultimate goal has always been to bring to the stage stories that were relevant to Nova Scotians and Atlantic Canadians, even if it meant tackling difficult topics. Plays such as Sisters or The Glace Bay Miners Museum, both by Wendy Lill and Dayboil by Sharon King-Campbell tackle hard-hitting themes that speak directly to their local audience. That said, the theatre hosts its share of musicals—including Charimaker, The Musical—and comedies as well.

So, what does Ship’s Company Theatre have in store for their 40th season? “I call this a season of celebration,” Laura explains. “I do feel like Ship’s has brought energy and vitality to this region for four decades, and I wanted to make a jam-packed anniversary season that was about laughter and joy and not taking life too seriously.”

First up on the main stage is Til Death Do Us Part by Katerina Bakolias. This fast-paced comedy tells the story of a wedding weekend gone awry, as a couple deals with a raccoon infestation, a dead body, and an overbearing mother-in-law. The second main stage show is Still Dancing by Melissa Mullen. This production explores health and wellness in a rural region as a lively, fun-loving couple learns to deal with the effects of progressive MS. It shows what it means to care for loved ones and to be cared for by them. Laura calls it “a celebration of life, love, and family.”

The ever-popular music series kicks off with two nights of Dancing Queen, an ABBA tribute act. The Antigonish-based fiddle and step-dancing duo Cassie and Maggie will also have two nights on the stage. Along with the fiddle and dancing, the two sing in both English and Gaelic, with beautifully intricate harmonies. Reggae singer Jah’mila and her nine-piece band have two shows in September. 

The Member’s Choice concert features The Gilberts. This is the first year Ship’s Company Theatre has had a members vote, and the Gilberts, with their mesmerizing three-part harmonies, and soulful lyricism, won by a landslide. The final musical event is one that Laura calls “a tribute to tribute shows.” A Musical Tribute to the Ship revisits tribute shows performed at the Ship over the years. Music will include Patsy Cline, John Denver, Hank Williams and more.

The Presentation series brings in touring shows from around Canada. This season includes Prude by Lou Campbell, a fun, high-energy show about navigating personal identity in a hypersexual world. Breaking Circus is bringing their show Skywhispers of Terrestrial Dreams. This circus performance is about dreams and the journey of imagination, using silks and hoops for an acrobatic masterpiece. 

For an accessible, all-ages option, the Ship offers Picnic Plays. This outdoor performance of Lil’ Villains Theatre’s DinoStories is for everyone and will visit communities across the Fundy shore. Presented in cooperation with the Fundy Geological Museum, it includes interpretive activities before the show and is a pay-what-you-can performance.

On top of all these performances, there are other activities available through the theatre. This year, they’re offering full-day drama camps, with both a junior and senior version. One half of the day is theatre creation, while the other half tackles prop and costume building. There is also the Ship’s playwright in residence, Francesca Ekwuyasi. Her book Butter Honey Pig Bread has been nominated for several awards, and Laura is excited about the writing she will accomplish while residing in Parrsboro.

As excited as everyone is for the Ship’s 40th season, that doesn’t stop them from thinking about the future. One major goal, according to Laura, is for it to become a year-round art centre. Currently, the theatre isn’t winterized, but there’s a hunger for more community shows and a more accessible venue. 

Ship’s Company Theatre is no stranger to awards. As previously mentioned, last season’s Downed Hearts was nominated for 11 Robert Merritt awards, winning six. The year before, the company’s performance of Dayboil was also nominated for 11 awards and won seven, just a slightly well-deserved brag. The theatre itself has also won several awards, including Best Cultural Events from Attraction Canada, and Best Attraction Award from the Central Nova Scotia Tourism Association.

Overall, Laura feels that theatre in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada is flourishing. Independent theatres are doing interesting, innovative work, and “it’s an exciting time to be a theatre maker.” She emphasizes how important this is since it’s such a localized medium. “Theatres are such a key facet of Nova Scotia’s cultural makeup because they provide a platform for local and regional stories.”

This brings everything back to Laura’s love for Parrsboro. The Ship’s Company Theatre has helped make the town a cultural center in Nova Scotia because it’s positioned itself as a storyteller and celebrator of Atlantic Canadian stories and playwrights. But it’s also just one part of a unique collective of attractions that make Parrsboro what it is. The Band Hall, The Fundy Geological Museum, Art Lab Studios, and other attractions all work together to bring people in. Then visitors stay locally, shop locally, and eat locally, appreciating Parrsboro for everything it has to offer.

“We hope that a successful season at the Ship means a successful season for Parrsboro,” Laura explains. “I really do feel like Parrsboro is a cultural capital in Nova Scotia and it’s so unique in its geology and its geography and its creative output. That’s a real reason to come and visit us because there’s so much; there’s something for everyone here. Whether it’s the theatre, the museum, or the tide, everyone can enjoy Parrsboro. 

by Amanda Stellisano


The Ship’s Company Theatre’s Mainstage Theatre Production of the season are:

‘Til Death Do Us Part

by Katerina Bakolias and will be Directed by Samantha Wilson

Playing from July 5th through 21st.

At a small-town hotel, Kira and Ryan are two days from their wedding, when they wake up to a dead stranger in their room. With friends and family arriving by the minute, Kira’s disapproving mother breathing down their necks, an overly helpful maid, and an unexpected raccoon infestation, the couple must hide the body and get through dinner, rehearsal and family celebrations without being discovered. As they struggle to keep their secret under wraps, they face that age-old question: “If you can’t hide a body together, why are you getting married in the first place?”

“Perfect for a summer date night, or a fun night out with friends. Till Death Do Us Part will have you crying with laughter.” – Laura Vingoe-Cram, Artistic Director

Please note: Pay-What-You-Can nights are July 3rd & 4th.

Tickets available now at


Still Dancing

by Melissa Mullen and Directed by Laura Vingoe-Cram

Playing from August 17th through September 1st.

Frank and Ellen have been married for over forty years, and they love to have a good time, party and cut a rug at the local legion. Unfortunately, their fun-loving lifestyle is beginning to catch up to them as Ellen battles the effects of progressive MS. When their daughter Allyson comes home to help out, buried resentments get unearthed and the family must face some difficult truths about the past and the future. A poignant and humorous look at family dynamics and aging, Still Dancing is a heartfelt celebration of life and what it means to care for those we love.

“Still Dancing will resonate with anyone who has cared for a loved one or has been cared for by a loved one. It’s a play for anyone who loves their family even when they drive them up the wall.” – Laura Vingoe-Cram, Artistic Director.

Please note: Pay-What-You-Can Previews August 14th & 15th.

Tickets available now at


The Ships Company Theater’s 2024 Presentation Series invites theatre work from other theatre companies in Atlantic Canada to take over the Ship!


by Probably Theatre written and performed by Lou Campbell

Playing from August 2nd through 4th.

PRUDE is a hilarious and high-energy blend of stand-up and drag. The piece begins as a motivational talk, given to the audience by the King of the Party, there to show everyone HOW TO HAVE A GOOD TIME. Slowly, through lip-syncs and mortifying personal tales, we watch them unravel onstage, digging into the complex experience of being an asexual in a hyper-sexual world.

Tickets available now at 


Skywhispers of Terrestrial Dreams 

by Breaking Circus

Playing from September 27th through 29th.

The Circus is coming to Parrsboro! Skywhispers of Terrestrial Dreams is a magical wandering journey through an endlessly shifting dreamscape of circus arts and acrobatics. This Breaking Circus production will enchant and take you on a journey of imagination.

In this performance installation, skywhispers from the astral realm reach out to issue warning, impart wisdom, carry healing, and offer insight into our past, present and future. If one actively listens, they may find meaning that is intended only for them. Can we embrace this transitional reality where provocation invites curiosity and the mundane is nuanced? Off the beaten path, time has no purchase and recovered details swiftly lose their edges. The dream of today is not the dream of tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. All is mutable.

The diverse group of artists presenting this work are members of Breaking Circus Collective, the only, Black-led professional contemporary circus troupe east of Montreal. Audio description/ whispers are an integral part of this performance installation.

For inquiries about school performances, please reach out to

Tickets available now at 


The Ships Company Theater’s Music Series is bigger than ever this year with the following artists and performances taking to the stage this season: 

Dancing Queen

Shows on July 26th & 27th.

Back by popular demand, nothing says a party like ABBA! Made up of professional Nova Scotian musicians, Dancing Queen has sold out venues across the province, playing the hits of ABBA and getting generations old and young to dance and sing to Mamma Mia! Bring your dancing shoes and get ready to have the time of your life.

Tickets available now at 



Cassie and Maggie

Shows on July 31st & August 1st.

Nova Scotian sisters Cassie and Maggie have been lighting up the world with their unique blend of traditional and contemporary Celtic instrumentals and vocals. Their music features lively fiddle, piano, and guitar arrangements, and stunning sibling vocal harmonies in both English and Gaelic, all complemented by their intricate and percussive step-dancing style.

Tickets available now at 




Shows on September 7th & 8th.

Wrapped in the roots of the Reggae family tree, 2024 Juno award-winning artist Jah’Mila makes music that is creatively crafted and deeply inspiring. She has toured with towering reggae bands like The Wailers, Groundation, and Black Uhuru among many others. A beacon for the reggae genre in Atlantic Canada, her sound captures the electrifying energy of authentic roots reggae music interlaced with Soul, Jazz, and R&B.

Tickets available now at 


The Gilberts

Shows from September 13th through 15th.

In January our membership voted on who they wanted to see on the deck this summer and we cannot wait to welcome this talented family trio back to our stage! Award-winning sibling trio The Gilberts brings vibrant three-part harmonies, 1970s classics, soulful lyricism, and diverse influences on their songs, performances, and recordings. Their music often contains wistful and meditative elements that evoke strong emotional responses.

Tickets available now at 


A Musical Tribute to the Ship 

Shows from September 20th through 22nd.

The Final Show in the Music Series is a blast from the past as they Celebrate 40 years of musical entertainment at the Ship with Greg Simm and The John Denver Tribute Band. Featuring music from 40 years of Tribute concerts, this musical celebration will include tunes from Chairmaker The Musical, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, and of course John Denver. 

The evening will also include special guest performers who have graced the Ship’s Company stage with their incredible musical talent. You won’t want to miss out on this Anniversary party.

Tickets available now at


Last but certainly not least, is Ship’s Company Theatre’s Picnic Plays Series!

The Ship’s Company Theatre’s Picnic Plays Series is an outdoor theatre series for all ages, a pay-what-you-can experience. This year’s picnic play is from The Lil’ Villains Theatre and is sure to bring a smile to your face.

The Fundy Geological Museum and Ship Company Theatre are proud to present DinoStories! From August 7th to 11th.

Did you know that Dinosaurs ate porridge? Or lived at the top of beanstalks?? Or liked wearing your grandma’s pajamas?? It’s all true! Join our super special theatrical presentation for tiny geniuses and their families and hear the most exciting secrets and stories of the prehistoric era! DinoStories has something for storytellers and explorers of all ages.

The show will be playing in the following locations and will feature Dino-related activities before the show.

  • Wednesday, August 7th: Wild Caraway at 7:30pm
  • Thursday, August 8th: Joggins Fossil Museum at 3pm
  • Friday, August 9th: Fundy Geological Museum at 3pm
  • Saturday, August 10th: Five Islands Park at 3pm
  • Sunday, August 11th: Truro Farmers Market at 3pm

For more information, please visit