Thursday, 6 December 2012
Across The Province in Community Theatre
The community theatre season is in full swing and there are great plays and festivals going on all over the province. You’ll find something for everyone in every region.
The Association of Community Theatres—Central Ontario (ACT-CO) has 50 plays being adjudicated between October 2012 and March 2013. While this is not the largest geographical region for community theatre in Ontario, this is the largest number of plays in a Festival. This year’s adjudicators are Chris Worsnop (Drama), Autumn Smith (Comedy), and Thom Currie (Musicals). An important component of the adjudication is the public adjudication which occurs immediately after the play is finished. This is an opportunity for the audience to get greater understanding of the performance from the adjudicator. If you would like to see one of these adjudicated productions, check out the Festival on the ACT-CO website.
The QUONTA Region is holding the Regional Festival from Tuesday, March 12 to Saturday, March 16 with a Awards Brunch on Sunday, March 17. North Bay’s Gateway Theatre Guild is hosting the event. Several workshops are also in the planning stages for Festival week.
I’d also like to update everyone on the status of ELATE – Elliot Lake Amateur Theatre Ensemble, a QUONTA member. I’m sure that none of us can forget the horrible images coming from Elliot Lake last June of the Algo Mall collapse. ELATE was performing a matinee in the mall at the time. They were able to get all of the cast, crew and audience members out of the mall safely, but all of their lighting equipment, portable stage, screen and even the ticket money from the play are lost in the rubble of the Algo Mall. Even so, the group continues to perform. They have monthly meetings and have held play readings and improv nights and are already rehearsing for their performance in QUONTA Festival 2013. In a recent conversation with Murray Finn from ELATE, he wanted to let everyone know how pleased the members of the theatre company were with the support they have received from other theatre groups and individuals who have sent their good wishes and other tangible support.
The Western Ontario Drama League (WODL) hosts their Regional Festival Monday, March 11 to Friday, March 15 with the Awards Ball on Saturday March 16. This season’s Festival is in Guelph and the festival committee chair is Dennis Johnson, my predecessor in the Community Theatre Coordinator’s job. You can find information about this festival on the WODL website. “The 2013 WODL Festival is the 80th Anniversary of the first WODL Festival in 1933. Catharine McCormick Brickenden was invited to attend the inaugural meeting of the Dominion Drama Festival (DDF) in 1932, where she met its chief organizers – Vincent Massey and Governor General Lord Bessborough. She set about organizing the first WODL Festival in 1933, held in the auditorium of the London Life Building in London Ontario. In 1934, she arranged for the use of the Grand Theatre in London for the second WODL Festival. In 1936 she directed and acted in Twenty-Five Cents, the first original play to win the WODL and DDF festivals. In her memoirs she wrote: ‘… the most gratifying triumph was that it was the first Canadian-written play in any Festival. The whole audience went wild.’” (quotation from the proposal to the WODL Board, October 28, 2012.) A new award at the Festival will be the Brickenden Award for Best Production of a Canadian Play, and is Dennis’ brainchild—well done Dennis!
As previously announced, Theatre Ontario is running another Introduction to Adjudication course at this Festival, under the instruction of Ron Cameron-Lewis.
The Domino Theatre in Kingston and the Eastern Ontario Drama League (EODL) will be hosting the Theatre Ontario Festival 2013, May 16 to 20 at the Domino Theatre. The new theatre officially opened in January 2012 and is an extremely well-designed space. Domino Theatre hosted the EODL One-Act Festival earlier this month and everyone was quite impressed with the facility and the host committee. The wonderful facilities will be a great backdrop to the Theatre Ontario Festival. The Festival Committee is meeting in the next week to finalize festival venues, etc. I can tell you that the Festival Adjudicator is John P. Kelly—John is well-known as an articulate and informative adjudicator. The Playwright-in-Person will be John Lazarus. Stay tuned for more information.
The EODL One-Act Festival was quite an eye opening event. Nine one-act plays were adjudicated in two days by Bea Quarrie. Each group was given one hour of tech time to rehearse in the space. Then they had ten minutes to set up and five minutes after their plays to strike. Inventiveness is a major part of this Festival. Plays ran the gamut from George Bernard Shaw and an adaptation of Stephen Leacock to five locally-written plays. The Best Production was Ottawa Little Theatre’s Behind the Beyond adapted from a Stephen Leacock short story. This Festival also has a People’s Choice Award which was won by Bay of Quinte Community Theatre’s one man show Burying the Hangman—written and performed by Richard Turtle. A full list of plays and winners is available on the EODL website.
Theatre in Ontario is as diverse as the regions in which it is found. Hopefully, you can feed your soul at a community theatre performance or Festival near you.