New in Town

New in Town: A Campfire Comedy

Press Release    May 2023
Arts Health Antigonish (AHA!) is excited to announce that they have received grants from the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, the Community Health Board and the County of Antigonish, to pursue a project that has been waiting on their back burner for five years: New in Town: A Campfire Comedy!

In 2018, a collaboration between AHA!, the Bauer Theatre, and ACALA brought the Shoe Project to town. Guided by Anne Simpson, a local writer, a group of immigrant women shared, workshopped, and then wrote stories about their journeys. Laura Teasdale helped turn the stories into a theatrical production, which was given back to the community in a performance sharing those stories. The Shoe Project Antigonish was a resounding success, very rewarding for the women who participated, as well as moving for all who came to witness the performance. Listening to someone’s story fosters compassion and empathy, helping to nurture inclusivity in our community. It’s hard to feel alienated from someone when you have walked a mile in their footsteps.

Since then, the community (immigrants and established community alike), has reflected on that show and continued to request that the project be offered again. They wanted more diversity of voices, women and men, perhaps even youth and children, involved. Jyotsna Jain at ACALA approached AHA! and together they decided to create their own project for newcomers to Antigonish.

With funding announced last fall for the project, and with help from ACALA, recruitment began right away. In early 2023, Laura Teasdale and Justin Gregg met with a dozen recent immigrants from such diverse nations as India, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, China, and the USA. They have been meeting weekly to write & create a comedy show together, with sessions including story sharing, writing exercises, laughing and comedy improv games.

“We knew that after the pandemic, everyone needs a boost to their mental health, and there is simply no better way to improve quality of life, release tension and create strong friendships than good old-fashioned laughter” says Teasdale, who has been giving laughter therapy and comedy workshops for years.  “It was a no brainer to include Justin Gregg in the process. He’s a great writer and brilliant comedian.”

Justin, Laura, and the dozen immigrants/performers became fast friends, sharing stories (that were not always comedic), food and music. Everyone involved got swept up in the infectious joy of the project right away and have developed lifelong bonds.

The tsunami of support from other community organizations for New in Town has been heartwarming. The project now has seven partner organizations, including ACALA, CJFX (who will air the radio version of the show), Antigonish Performing Arts Series, the Sisters of St. Martha, Mulgrave Road Theatre, Antigonish Heritage Museum, and Antigonish Community Transit! This generosity is a testament to the welcoming spirit of Antigonish and the strength and support of the existing immigrant community.

Click to watch the Teaser promo

New in Town: A Comedy Cabaret will be presented in various indoor and outdoor locations, including Immaculata Hall on July 13th at 7 pm and on July 16th at 2 pm, in Guysborough on July 15th at Mulgrave Road Theatre’s Roadhouse at 6:30 pm, and finally at the Antigonish Heritage Museum on July 18th at 6:30 pm. This last show will be extra special, as all new Canadians will be invited, celebrated, and welcomed to our community after the show. More information on these events will be publicized on CJFX and other news outlets. Payment will be by donation at the door.

Click to watch the live performance

Click to listen to the radio version 

For more information on the show or to make a donation to Arts Health Antigonish contact