Conrad first discovered the magic of the theatre while in high school in Edmonton. Since then, he has acted, sung and even danced (though not his forte…) in dozens of performances all across Canada and the U.S., occasionally in Europe, and on cruise ships sailing both the Pacific and Atlantic! He has performed in concert halls for thousands, in intimate theatres for a handful, and everywhere in between.
Currently, Conrad’s focussing his career on a series of one-man performances, developed by him, featuring the work of poet Robert W. Service, the “Bard of the Yukon”. The shorter pieces are designed for use in schools, the longer ones for house concerts or theatres large and small.
For 35 years, Conrad has specialized in interpreting the ballads (alternately hilarious and movingly dramatic) of Robert W. Service. Service is known as the “Bard of the Yukon”, and indeed his tales of the Klondike Gold Rush, such as “The Cremation of Sam McGee”, first gained him fame and fortune. But he was also an ambulance driver at the front during World War I, and his “Rhymes of a Red Cross Man” remains one of the best-selling books of poetry in literary history. Conrad has brought Service’s verse stories to life in concert halls and classrooms around the world, from Arizona to Service’s native Scotland, and for fans on the lawn of Service’s own cabin in Dawson City. Now he would be pleased to bring them to your students.
Conrad has two programs, one based on Service’s Yukon work, the other on his war poetry.
Songs of a Sourdough
Conrad’s performance of Service’s hilarious Yukon ballads (such as “The Iceworm Cocktail”) and dramatic lyrics like “The Trail of ’98” and “The Spell of the Yukon”, would enliven classes in English, Drama, Geography, or Canadian History. Whichever of those topics is the focus, he will provide workshop materials either digitally or in hard copy, including a series of photos of both today’s Yukon and the Klondike Gold Rush. “Songs of a Sourdough” can be adapted to any length from a half-hour to 90 minutes, and to any grade from 5 to 12. The program will introduce the power of dramatic verse, an art form rarely seen these days, and provide a glimpse into an exotic region of Canada, and a fascinating period in our history.
Rhymes of a Red Cross Man
Although he was too old to enlist as a soldier, Robert Service saw plenty of action in the Great War as an ambulance driver on the front in France and Belgium. His moving poems are interspersed with haunting excerpts from his personal diaries. The performance, in the costume Service would have worn, is suitable for classes in English, Drama, Canadian or World History. Whichever of those topics is the focus, he will provide workshop materials either digitally or in hard copy, including a series of historical photos of the war. “Rhymes of a Red Cross Man” can be adapted to any length from a half-hour to 90 minutes, and to any grade from 5 to 12. The program will introduce the power of dramatic verse, an art form rarely seen these days, and provide a glimpse into life on the front of one of the most brutal wars in world history.
Conrad has two shows based on Service’s Yukon work, a full length play and a concert which includes insights into Service’s life and Yukon history. They can be adapted for performance in a living room for a house concert, or for staging in a large concert hall.
Pete McMurchy was a Chicago preacher who came up the Inside Passage as part of the greatest gold rush the world has ever known. He and his partner made their fortune on Eldorado, the richest of the Klondike creeks. Now, 16 years later, he is ready to head back Outside on the last sternwheeler of the season to enlist in the First World War, but before he goes, he invites a stranger (invisible to us!) in from the cold, and over the course of the evening, tells him the often hilarious, but sometimes tragic, story of his life in the Yukon. The play uses 17 of Service’s greatest poems, and a few simple props, to transport the audience to a fascinating place and time in Canadian history.
In this dramatic “concert”, you’ll hear a score of Service’s greatest Yukon poems, introduced with stories from Service’s own fascinating biography, as well as with background details about the place and period in history from which they sprang. The concert is hilariously interactive, inviting the audience to play some of Service’s most intriguing characters. A truly different concert experience from what your living room or community theatre has seen before!
For more details on any of these performances, please contact Conrad.
Photos of Conrad Boyce by Terry Paul
Listen to Conrad perform two of Service’s finest poems…
THE SPELL OF THE YUKON
THE CREMATION OF SAM MCGEE