Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Welcome Gore Bay Theatre and Theatre Sarnia to Theatre Ontario Festival 2019

Theatre Ontario is thrilled to welcome the first two productions that will perform at Theatre Ontario Festival 2019 in Richmond Hill. These productions are chosen from Ontario’s regional community theatre festivals, and are a showcase of outstanding community theatre from across the province.

On Thursday, May 16, Gore Bay Theatre from Manitoulin Island will represent QUONTA (the northeastern Ontario community theatre association) with their production of This Is How We Got Here by Keith Barker. Gore Bay Theatre returns to Theatre Ontario Festival for the first time since 2015 when they presented Agnes of God in Oshawa. This Is How We Got Here was awarded Outstanding Production by adjudicator Bea Quarrie at QUONTA Festival in Sault Ste. Marie. Keith Barker is also our Festival Playwright-in-Person for 2019.

The cast of Gore Bay Theatre's production of This Is How We Got Here
Will Smith, John Robertson, Shannon McMullan, Tara Bernatchez
Gore Bay is a small town of 800 residents located on beautiful Manitoulin Island. Gore Bay Theatre was established as a community theatre in 1992 with a mandate to produce Canadian theatre (if possible), primarily as a summer venue for the local and tourist audiences. It produced one comedy each summer until 2005, when the present Artistic Director was appointed. Since then, Gore Bay Theatre has produced three to four productions each year including comedies, dramas, musicals and children’s theatre. The summer theatre season now produces a comedy, a drama and sometimes a children’s production.  The productions are done in repertory to give audiences an opportunity to attend more than one performance on a weekend.

Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, This Is How We Got Here follows a close-knit family as they deal with an unexpected loss. The ties that keep a mother, father, aunt and uncle together as sisters, best friends and spouses are strained by grief and guilt. They must learn how to move forward after the trauma and re-learn how to interact with forgiveness, humour and love.
On Saturday, May 18, Theatre Sarnia will present Girls Like That by Evan Placey, representing the Western Ontario Drama League. Theatre Sarnia most recently represented the region at Festival in 2016, presenting 33 Variations in North Bay, and were awarded Best Production in Festival at WODL Festival in Guelph by adjudicator Maja Ardal.

The Drama Club of Sarnia was created in 1927 and grew under the leadership of Herman Voaden, Dr. R.K.Stratford, and D. Park Jamieson. After many years as the Sarnia Little Theatre, the organization is now known as Theatre Sarnia and is one of the oldest continuously operating theatre groups in Canada.Over the years, the group has hosted successful theatre festivals including the Dominion Drama Festival, the Theatre Ontario Festival, the Western Ontario Drama League Theatre Festival, and WODL Mini-Fest. Theatre Sarnia graduates have gone on to careers in various fields of the theatrical community and entertainment industry. Theatre Sarnia is also one of the few community groups to own their own theatre. The Imperial Theatre in downtown Sarnia originally opened as the Capitol Theatre on New Year's Eve 1936. It closed 52 years later and was left abandoned; however, Theatre Sarnia members and many volunteers accomplished the transformation of the movie house to a live theatre venue.

Theatre Sarnia's production of Girls Like That
Cassandra Lynn Smith, Kyra Knight, Tayler Hartwick, Julie Cushman,
Hala Miller, Chloe Brescia, Emma Van Barneveld
Girls Like That is an explosive play staring seven young women that explores the evolution of feminist consciousness and modern female friendships in the wake of advancing technology. It examines mob mentality, sexual insecurity, double-standards, and the struggle to define oneself in a crowd. The plot follows one class of girls, part of a prestigious school that takes only 20 students a year, guaranteeing they will remain in the same class from kindergarten to graduation. Jumping back and forth in time, the audience sees how societal pressures and expectations creep in and affect the dynamics of this group starting at their first meeting at five-years-old. As they near graduation, a naked photo of one of them gets sent around to the entire school and the other six girls explore what this means to their group, and themselves.

As previously announced, Theatre Ontario Festival 2019 will feature detailed adjudications with Carolee Mason, Playwright-in-Person readings with Keith Barker, workshops, awards and parties celebrating community theatre in Ontario.

The annual Theatre Ontario Festival is a showcase of outstanding community theatre productions; a symposium for passionate, dedicated community theatre artists; a celebration of excellence in community theatre; and a destination bringing together theatre lovers from across the province. Theatre Ontario Festival 2019 runs May 15 to 19, and is hosted by The Curtain Club with performances at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, and the Association of Community Theatres—Central Ontario.

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