A resident of Mahone Bay and the former managing director of the Chester Playhouse, Chris Heide, has been named this year's recipient of Theatre Nova Scotia's annual Legacy Award.
Theatre Nova Scotia presents the award annually to honour those artists who have an extraordinary impact in the province. The award was recognized in Nova Scotia's 2021 Merritt Celebration on YouTube March 29.
In a media release issued earlier that day, Theatre Nova Scotia described Heide as having a lengthy career as a playwright, director, producer and writer.
"He is dedicated to community development and has a passion for rural Maritimes."
Heide spoke about the award in an appreciation speech pre-recorded on a beach at Indian Point, Lunenburg County, that appeared as part of the YouTube event.
He commented that the idea of a Legacy Award was a bit intimidating. "I never really thought about a legacy at all," said Heide. However, he went on to explain that early in his career he found that "theatre could play a role in developing and strengthening, deepening a sense of community between people. And that's what I've pursued with everything I've written for the stage.
"Just basically putting one foot in front of another, so if there's a legacy, that's great."
Heide began his professional theatre career in 1979 at Mulgrave Road Co-Op Theatre in Guysborough, and became writer-in residence at Mermaid Theatre in 1984. He founded their Youtheatre in 1990, leading them in performances across Nova Scotia and Britain.
Theatre Nova Scotia quoted one nominator suggesting that, for Heide, "'the theatre didn't just belong to those who spoke in iambic pentameter. Rural kids who made theatre in church basements were just as important.'"
In 2008, Heide co-founded Halifax Theatre for Young People with Tessa Mendel, adapting works for the stage from prose works by Sheree Fitch and Alistair MacLeod. He was the managing director of Chester Playhouse from 1996-2004.
"We Atlantic Canadian theatre artists have a strong and vibrant community because Chris Heide was
one of the major contributors in building its strong foundation through PARC (Playwrights Atlantic
Resource Centre), the Playwrights Guild of Canada and the Dramatists Co-Op of Nova Scotia" the playwright and poet, Catherine Banks, commented in the news release.
Heide is expected to have a poetry collection published in the fall.
Past recipients of the Legacy Award have included director Mary Vingoe, actor Deb Allen and playwright Wendy Lill.
During the Merritt Celebration, Theatre Nova Scotia also awarded the TNS Scholarship to Maja Packer, the Neptune Chrysalis Emerging Artist Award to Katerina Bakolias and the Wes Daniels Design Award to Keep Good [Theatre] Company's Jackson Fairfax-Perry.
The celebration included performances, music, play readings, the special segment with Heide, as well as interviews and features with professional theatres across the province. The program can be watched on Theatre Nova Scotia's YouTube Channel - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YF-aRFa-sIA