Anne Mooney, Community Theatre Coordinator
This is my first blog post, so a few comments and introductions are in order. So many of you have been extremely generous in your congratulatory notes and I thank everyone for their kind words. I hope I can live up to your good wishes.
I have had a few people send emails not realizing we had met before. Some of you may remember me by my maiden name, Annie Reaume.
I am very excited to be the latest in a line of fine Community Theatre Coordinators. Through my years in community theatre, I have had the privilege of meeting many vibrant and effective Coordinators. If I started to name them all, I am sure I would forget someone, so let me only say, thank you for your inspiration and support of theatre in Ontario and I hope I can follow in your example.
With this being Theatre Ontario’s 40th anniversary year, I have been thinking a lot about 2012 and the many milestones that are being celebrated this year.
It all started when I was asked when the first WODL festival occurred. A little quick research and a sudden epiphany and there it was. Three of our present community theatre regions can trace their origins to the first meetings for creation of the Dominion Drama Festival, specifically the meeting of October 29, 1932 at Rideau Hall. The Governor General at the time was the driving force for the creation of an all-Canada theatrical festival. During those first meetings, three regions for preliminary adjudications were created the Western Ontario region, the Central Ontario region, and the Eastern Ontario region. These three regions are the birthright of the present day Western Ontario Drama League(WODL), Eastern Ontario Drama League(EODL) and the Association of Community Theatres of Central Ontario (ACT-CO). Happy 80th birthday.
In 1957, CODL was split into two and QUONTA was born. QUONTA had a large celebration for their 50th anniversary in 2007, but, as someone who knows–the 55th is also a milestone year. I look forward to celebrating with them at their festival in March in Elliot Lake.
Several communities are hosting Festivals this year in conjunction with special milestone birthdays. Traditionally, Theatre Sarnia hosts the WODL Festival every five years on their -5 and -0 anniversaries. This year is their 85th. One of the driving forces behind the creation of WODL and the DDF was D. Park Jamieson of Sarnia, a prominent member of Sarnia Little Theatre. To this day he is immortalized in WODL; the Best Production award presented yearly at the WODL Festival is the D. Park Jamieson Award. This year’s festival is March 12th to the 17th. WODL is my home region and I have been at many festivals there. St. Patrick’s Day traditionally has a green theme. I wonder what will be happening at this year’s Festival Ball on St. Patrick’s Day?
Ottawa Little Theatre is hosting the EODL festival on April 11th to 15th. OLT is one of our oldest continuing community theatres as this is their 100th anniversary year. Sometimes I have difficulty remembering last week, imagine having 100 years of history to celebrate.
Our culminating community theatre festival, the aptly named Theatre Ontario Festival is being hosted by Theatre SMC in Sault Ste. Marie. Not only is this the 40th anniversary of Theatre Ontario, but Sault Ste. Marie is celebrating their 100th anniversary as a city. The Festival Committee is partnering with the City to be included as part of their joint anniversary celebrations. Theatre Ontario Festival occurs in May.
As you can see, community theatre in Ontario has a lot to celebrate. We celebrate our theatres every year at our festivals, at our opening nights, at our closing night parties. We celebrate all the time. But sometimes, we should take a moment to step back and celebrate our history and our place in our home communities. Milestone years are the perfect time to remember our amazing accomplishments.
The Festival and community theatres I have mentioned above are merely the tip of the iceberg. As I go forward with my new position as Community Theatre Coordinator, please let me know about your milestones and I don’t mean, just those big anniversaries. How about the small accomplishments? It’s our first show of the season or we’re so new, we are celebrating that we got our third show off the ground! I would love to celebrate with you and share your accomplishments throughout the province.
Isn’t Community Theatre worth celebrating!