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Remembering David French

Newfoundland playwright David French died in Toronto a week ago. Born in Coley’s Point, the author of the “Salt Water Moon” and other classics of Canadian theatre was 71 years old. He died of brain cancer.

He was highly recognized in Canadian theatre but best known for his Mercer family series telling the stories of a Newfoundland family.

The five plays on the Mercer family - “Leaving Home,” “Of the Fields, Lately;” “Salt-Water Moon,” “1949” and “Soldier’s Heart” - are set here between 1924 and the early 1960s.

In the summer of 2009, all five plays were performed in their entirety at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival in Cow Head. When I heard about Gros Morne’s plan to do the full cycle - I called up David French and Jeff Pitcher. I started out the conversation asking Jeff …why he thought no one had ever staged all five plays together before?

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David French was a member of the Order of Canada and had also been awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal. He was named to the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council’s Hall of Honour in 1988.

He is survived by his partner, Glenda MacFarlane, his son Gareth and his daughter Mary.

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