Theatre Ontario Festival 2007 came to a successful close on Sunday. Awards were presented to the best in Ontario community theatre productions, and to six individuals who were recognized for their contribution to community theatre across the province. This year's festival, celebrating the 35th anniversary of Theatre Ontario, was supported by a $19,200 grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). Frank Klees, MPP for Oak Ridges, joined OTF representative Helen Ching-Kircher in congratulating Theatre Ontario at the Festival's opening ceremonies on Wednesday night.
"We are privileged and proud to have the Theatre Ontario Festival 2007 here in Newmarket delivering such high level performing excellence," said MPP Klees.
The Festival, hosted by Theatre Ontario and the Association of Community Theatres of Central Ontario (ACT-CO), represents the finals of an Ontario-wide drama competition, and features four outstanding productions from across the province. Participating in Theatre Ontario Festival 2007 were several hundred people, and four dynamic productions:
Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee, presented by East Side Players, Toronto (representing the Association of Community Theatres – Central Ontario)
Kiss The Moon, Kiss The Sun by Norm Foster, presented by Gore Bay Theatre (representing the Quebec-Ontario Theatre Association)
All My Sons by Arthur Miller, presented by Domino Theatre, Kingston (representing the Eastern Ontario Drama League)
Ethan Claymore by Norm Foster, presented by London Community Players (representing the Western Ontario Drama League)
Domino Theatre of Kingston was awarded the Elsie for Outstanding Production.
Please click here for a full list of award recipients.
The OTF grant funded a special staged reading of two plays: Drew Hayden Taylor's 400 Kilometres and Norm Foster's Jenny's House Of Joy, followed by a panel discussion on "Breaking Down Barriers." The grant also funded a workshop for community theatres on recruitment and retention of volunteers, facilitated by Jane Gardner, General Manager of the Blyth Festival, and Cameron Smillie, arts consultant.
The five-day festival, chaired by Andrea Emmerton of Theatre Ontario and Maureen Lukie of ACT-CO, also featured a workshop on "Transactional Approach For Actors" led by adjudicator Brian Van Norman; a play reading by Norm Foster (sponsored by The Canada Council for the Arts and Playwrights Guild of Canada); and Theatre Ontario's Annual General Meeting.
In recognition of the 35th anniversary, the Michael Spence Awards were also presented at the ceremonies. These awards are given every five years to individuals from each of the five community theatre regions of Ontario for their outstanding contribution to their region within the past thirty-five years. The recipients were Gabe Ferrazzo of Thunder Bay, Val Hadley of Sarnia, Maureen Lukie of Toronto, Beth McMaster of Peterborough, and Kenneth Stephen of Elliot Lake. A sixth Award was presented to Richard Howard of Sault Ste. Marie, as a professional who has contributed both financially and artistically to the development of theatre across the province.
Each year, Theatre Ontario also celebrates the achievements of Ontario-based individuals who have made a sustained and significant contribution to the development of theatre in the province, by awarding the Maggie Bassett Award. Yvette Nolan, the recipient of the 2007 Maggie Bassett Award was recognized at Sunday's award ceremony.
Theatre Ontario Festival 2008 will be held in North Bay, Ontario.
The Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Ministry of Culture, receives funds from the government’s charity casino initiative.