Wednesday, 15 May 2013

ONstage Tonight At Festival: Theatre Night In Merrickville

It’s opening night in Kingston, as Theatre Ontario Festival 2013 kicks off in The Davies Foundation Auditorium with Theatre Night In Merrickville’s presentation of Having Hope At Home.

Theatre Night in Merrickville was informally established in 1975 in an effort to raise funds for the local community medical centre.  The group of volunteer actors and actresses had so much fun during their first production that an official theatre group was born.  TNIM's first full length play was Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, which was revived again on their tenth and twenty fifth anniversaries. Six of the cast members performed in all three productions.

Merrickville is an artist’s community of a thousand people about one hour from Ottawa, and is known as “the Jewel of the Rideau.”  TNIM rents the local community hall, moving into an empty black box on a Sunday with their equipment and their seating, and moving out a week later after the Sunday matinee.  Having Hope At Home was closing on the same day as the Eastern Ontario Drama League Festival Awards Brunch in Belleville.  Director Margaret Shearman had to call Merrickville from the awards venue with the message, “Don’t trash the set!”

TNIM have led a nomadic existence in recent years, as previous rehearsal spaces have been sold or re-purposed.  Having Hope At Home was rehearsed in a community centre in nearby Eastons Corners, and the set was built in an unused bay of a local volunteer fire department.

Having Hope At Home is by long-time Theatre Ontario member David S. Craig.  The play is a side-splitting look at a family learning to love again.  On a winter night in a drafty farmhouse a baby is about to arrive.  But modern medicine meets midwifery head on in a torrent of family feuding.  As tensions rise between three dysfunctional generations, so does the laughter.

At the Eastern Ontario Drama League Festival, in addition to winning the Leslie M. Frost Award for Best Production (for the first time in thirty years), Theatre Night In Merrickville received awards for Best Production of a Canadian Play and for Acting Excellence (Amber Anderson as Carolyn Bingham) with honourable mentions for Best Director (Margaret Shearman), Best Visual Presentation, Best Set Design (Rod Fournier and Vicki Graham), and an Adjudicator’s Award for Technical Achievement (Peter Boire for the Soundscape.)

Read more about Theatre Ontario Festival 2013 on our website

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