On Friday, Sept. 28 the Williams Lake Studio Theatre Society held their annual general meeting.
Designed to be a fun recap of the previous year’s season and a preview of the next one, 30 some members of the society gathered together for a night of socializing and the discussion of important theatre business. Open for anyone to join for the low price of $10 — $5 if you’re a student — per person, the volunteer-run theatre welcomes anyone and everyone to take part in all aspects of theatre life.
The theatre’s most recent season, according to re-elected president Mary-Jo Hilyer, was very successful and she’s very excited to see what this new season brings.
“For me, this theatre is not just about a group of very talented people having fun, this theatre is about putting on the best performances we can for the community,” Hilyer said.
Averaging four plays a season, last year Hilyer said the theatre started with Women in Black, a very technical play that was a lot of fun to put on, Anything that Moves, a dinner theatre musical, followed by the huge crowd pleaser that was The Importance of Being Earnest and concluded with their festival production Hand of God. Hand of God went on to win several awards throughout B.C., something Hilyer was quite proud of.
The theatre will not be doing a dinner theatre production this year, however, as none of this year’s directors wished to do one, according to Hilyer
“The local community is a huge supporter of our theatre and with their support, we were able, last year, to purchase six new LED stage lights,” Hilyer said, assets that will reduce costs while providing superior crisp lighting options for upcoming productions.
In addition to improving the stage’s lighting option, Hilyer said they also bought replacement black curtains and a new scrim to help better dress the stage. The new stage curtains give the stage a fresher, cleaner look while the scrim will allow for directors to utilize backdrop shadows in productions.
Hilyer is also looking to improve and utilize the building that has housed the theatre for 30 years now, something the entire society remains very grateful towards the school district for. The theatre is in talks with the school district about covering the costs of some basic maintenance on the exterior portions of the building such, as stairs.
“Now that Glendale isn’t in here as a school anymore, we would like to make the building a little bit more of our own. So the school district has given us permission to paint the outside of the theatre portion of the school,” Hilyer said, adding that due to the time of year any repainting is being held off until spring.
Another of the society’s expenses last year was the purchasing of two shipping containers for storage purposes. According to Hilyer, due to fire regulations, much of their storage space is unusable for safety concerns, however, as they try to and reuse and recycle costumes much as possible, getting rid of excess props was not an option.
Two years ago, Hilyer and the society asked members to start recording their volunteer hours put into the Studio Theatre. For the 2016/17 year, 10,900 hours were recorded while for the past 2017/18 year 10,006 hours, though Hilyer expects that the true number is far higher.
“I think my goal for the 2018/19 season is to encourage people to come if they’ve never been to a production to just come and see what it’s all about. My other goal is to continue to help people realize it’s a community theatre, it’s not just my theatre. The theatre belongs to the community so anybody is welcome to come join us,” Hilyer said.
Whether people want to act or take part in set construction, lighting or stage management, Hilyer said the theatre has mentor programs in place to help them learn the ropes.
“It’s a community theatre, so the community should be involved.”
This year the Studio Theatre will be putting up its usual four plays, starting with the satirical political comedy November in, appropriately, November, Table Manners a comedy about family dynamics in January, the first Shakespearean play the theatre has done in a while in March with Much Ado About Nothing and concluding with their festival play Cherry Dogs in May — a drama about the dynamic between a skinhead and his lawyer.
Hilyer is excited for this year’s line up and feels there will be something for every theatregoer whether they like biting social commentary or a good laugh.
“I want to thank the community of Williams Lake for their continued support. We wouldn’t be here without the community’s support so we are very thankful and very grateful for all the support.”