Sixty years, close your eyes and imagine that, 60 years.
That line from the play Over the River and Through the Woods written by Joe DiPietro comes to mind as the Williams Lake Studio Theatre launches its 60th Anniversary season.
Sixty years ago, Gwen Pharis Ringwood founded the group shortly after she and her family moved to Williams Lake (her husband Barney established a medical practice here).
She was already an award-winning playwright and community theatre activist and she was the driving force in bringing to the stage the Williams Lake Players Club’s first production, Dark Brown/Orange Blossoms. The WL Players Club rehearsed and performed where they could.
Many plays have since crossed the stage, which is now at the Glendale location, where the club has been for 26 years thanks to School District 27. The theatre has seen many changes over its 60 years, but the one constant has been the passion and commitment of the volunteers who serve.
The WL Studio Theatre’s 60th season line up starts out with The 39 Steps by Patrick Barlow, directed by Curt Sprickerhoff. The Studio Theatre teamed up with The Point Restaurant to bring an awesome night of dinner theatre to patrons.
The rip-roaring whodunnit of spies, murder, death defying escapes, midnight chases, a dizzying love affair, evil villains, and a race against time to save the world is an Alfred Hitchcock meets Monty Python theatrical explosion.
The play runs Nov. 12-15 and Nov. 19-22. The Studio Theatre’s 60th Gala evening is the final night, Nov. 22. Tickets will be on sale mid-September.
Next is Die Theatrically by Mat Kelly. Director Mark Berezan presents this farce in which detectives Jane and Tom investigate a murder at a community theatre’s all female production of Macbeth the Musical. But is it murder? Or a double murder? Or a murder-suicide? The play runs Jan. 14-17 and Jan. 21-24, 2015.
Then Still Stands the House and Garage Sale continues our 60th season celebration by putting on two plays written by Studio Theatre’s founder Gwen Pharis Ringwood. They are directed by Cathie Hamm and Sylvia Swift. Still Stands the House was one of Gwen’s early plays and is a tense story about a family coming apart. Garage Sale is a later play that is a gentle story about an older couple finding themselves. These plays run March 11-14 and March 18-21, 2015.
Lastly, in May, the Studio Theatre will present Proof by David Auburn, directed by Sheryl-Lynn Lewis. In this play Catherine doubts her sanity and negotiates with a young math prof who is overly zealous about her father’s work. She is also expecting the arrival of her busy-body older sister. Proof explores the unknowability of love and the mystery of genius. The play runs May 6-9 and May 13-16, 2015.
Besides the four plays presented through the year, the theatre season has many difference facets. The first phase of any new season is pitch night, which usually takes place in February. This is where directors can bring forth a play they would like to see put on during the next season. The director must have a producer, a stage manager and budget all in place before they can pitch.
The pitch committee reads all the plays then has the potential directors come back a month later for a question and answer period.
They then select four plays for the next season.
The next step in the season is auditions, which are held four times a year through Studio Theatre’s regular season. Usually they are held three months before the opening of a play.
The word audition may intimidate some people as it means having to be up on stage, but that is not the only thing it is about.
It takes a lot of people to help out with every aspect of a play, like lights and set design, to ensure that a play is successful.
If you are interested in getting your feet wet and lending a hand or learning a new job, come out to an audition. E-mail the theatre and let them know you are interested and they will e-mail you the audition dates as they become available.
The next part of Studio Theatre’s year is the Annual General Meeting (AGM) which usually take place in late September or early October.
As this is theatre, the executive tries to make their AGM fun.
They do the business part first, visit over some appetizers, and then provide some entertainment.
This year’s AGM is Sept. 26 at 6:30 p.m.
The AGM is always a great way to see the theatre, meet many of the volunteers and be entertained. This year’s entertainment is five to 10 minute readings from each of the upcoming season’s plays mentioned above. For more information please email the Studio Theatre (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call Mary-Jo at (250)305-4801.
The finale of the season happens with Festival, a judged competition that takes place in May every year.
Theatre BC consists of 10 zones, each zone consists of four or five Theatre groups. Studio Theatre is in the Central Interior Zone.
This past season Williams Lake Studio Theatre hosted the 2014 Zone Festival. Next year, 2015, the festival is in Prince George. Festival is open to the public and is a great way to see many different plays put on by different theatre groups. The winner of Festival goes onto MainStage, the Theatre BC competition, held in Kamloops the first week of July.
Theatre is fun, entertaining, challenging and a great way to get involved in the community.
Please help Studio Theatre celebrate their 60th season, either by helping out with a play, coming out to watch a performance, or supporting them financially, and help keep live theatre in Williams Lake for another 60 years.