Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Celebrating Legendary Commitment to Community Theatre

Our Michael Spence Award recognizes outstanding contribution, generosity of spirit, involvement, and legendary commitment to community theatre in a region. The award is presented annually within the region that is hosting the Theatre Ontario Festival.

In 2018, the award will be presented to someone in the Western Ontario region of Ontario community theatre. The deadline for nominations to be received by Theatre Ontario is January 31.

We caught up with two past recipients of the Michael Spence Award from the Western Ontario Drama League region to find out how they are continuing to contribute to theatre in their community and region.

Bev Dietrich (Elmira) was awarded the Michael Spence Award in 2014

Bev Dietrich
Has it been four years already? It just seems like yesterday that I received that phone call from Brandon and expressed to him my total disbelief in a few choice words. Four years later I can truly say that it is still an honour!

Theatre is still a big part of my life. In the past two years I have moved on up and now sit on the Board for both my home theatre and with the Western Ontario Drama League.  At WODL I serve as Area Vice President for Waterloo Region and Wellington County. I represent five different community theatre groups. My duties include introducing the travelling adjudicator, sitting in on the adjudications, and reporting on the group’s activities to the WODL board.

At Elmira Theatre Company (ETC), I sit on the executive as the VP of Productions. All things “production” fall under my umbrella which include the play reading committee and chairing the technical production committee. I recently worked with a standing committee re-writing our theatre by-laws that were passed at our AGM in September. Over the summer I re-organized the theatre archives (10 banker boxes in total) and helped with our prop storage re-organization. I am also our membership chairperson, so I keep track of the membership forms, who paid and hasn’t and of course “the active membership list.” Two years ago I wrote an article “The Show Must Go On: The History of Elmira Theatre Company” which was published in the Waterloo Historical Society Volume 102.

I’m producing our in-festival production of On a First Name Basis by Norm Foster in 2018 as well as our spring production of Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose. We are going to do this production in the round, which is exciting and a first for our theatre company.

This past year I retired from my day job and have found time for activities that don’t relate to theatre but at the same time I even have more time for theatre now!

Lawrie Bonanno (Burlington) was awarded the Michael Spence Award in 2012

Lawrie Bonanno
I am acting as Vice President of Theatre Burlington this year. I continue as business administrator for Theatre Burlington—dealing with the city as the Drama Centre is a city-owned building—looking after any problems that might crop up, overseeing purchases, organizing cleaners and general purchases that are required to keep everyone happy (like providing tea and coffee!) Last year we installed a whole new updated lighting system in the Drama Centre with the aid of an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant.

I looks after the awards for Burlington. I also make and supply all the awards that are given out at the Western Ontario Drama League (WODL) Festival each year. I am also Chair of the Life Memberships for both Burlington and WODL.

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