SUBMITTED BY ARTSPRING
There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who toil for gold;
The Arctic trails have
their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold . . . .
— Robert W. Service
Legendary chronicler of the Yukon Gold Rush, Robert W. Service was not, by his own admission, a poet. He was a writer of verse.
“Verse, not poetry, is what I was after . . . something the schoolboy would spout and the fellow in the pub would quote. Yet I never wrote to please anyone but myself . . . .”
Service emigrated to Canada from Glasgow around 1895, initially to Vancouver Island, to seek his fortune, knocking about in a series of discontinuous jobs. At one point, he romanced a woman from Vancouver, but she rejected him in search of a better educated man who could support her in the elegant fashion she desired.
The laugh was on her, though, as Service eventually became very wealthy from his verse, allowing him to take his leisure in Paris and the French Riviera.
All these tales and more are recounted by Service himself, in the person of acclaimed Canadian actor Jeffrey Renn in his one-man show called At Your Service – The Life and Yarns of Robert Service (part 1) running at ArtSpring from Friday, Nov. 6 through Sunday, Nov. 8. Performed through poem, song and story, it’s the first instalment of Renn’s work on the spectacularly popular poet’s life.
Renn is an actor, director, teacher, clown, and master storyteller. Now based on Salt Spring Island, he is an alumnus of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, has an MFA in Directing from the University of Victoria, and has been a member of the theatre companies of the Shaw and Stratford Festivals.
Friday and Saturday shows are at 7:30 p.m. Sunday’s is at 2:30 p.m.
As seating is limited to 50 people per show in order to meet provincial COVID-19 regulations, tickets should be acquired as soon as possible through the ArtSpring website.