Newsletter November 2015

In this issue:
Welcome to the WODL Newsletter

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Festival 2016 Box Office Now Open
Click here to order your Festival 2016 tickets, or call the Box Office at 519-537-2582.

At the moment Gala Tickets are only available by calling the Box Office, so that groups can be seated together at round tables.
Festival 2016 in Woodstock

By Sue Robinson & Bonnie Hartley,
Co-chairs Festival 2016
On October 25th Theatre Woodstock hosted both the Executive and General meetings for WODL.  It was a gorgeous day for a drive and we were pleased with the attendance at the general meeting and happy to meet several new people.  After the meeting, President Tim Dawdy led a discussion in our lounge about the future of WODL that included MiniFest, the possibility of connecting groups who are branching out into Improv, and other topics of mutual interest.

Meanwhile, the Theatre Woodstock Tech Team of Pete Dunbar, Rob Coles and Don Hastie were offering tours to the reps from the TEN groups who have entered IN Festival so they could see the stage, booth , dressing rooms etc.  They were given a package with a drawing of the stage, a lighting plot, a list of all our light, and sound, equipment, and some general house rules they'd need if they present in March.  Our stage is much smaller than many and we only have 12 feet from deck to lighting grid - both factors can create challenges for groups coming from larger theatres.  It helps designers plan ahead.

TEN groups have entered IN Festival:
  • LCP - All the King's Women
  • Sarnia - 33 Variations
  • Kent - Having Hope at Home
  • Elmira - Suburban Standoff
  • Elora - The Drawer Boy
  • Simcoe - Whole Lotto Love
  • Kincardine - Willow Quartet
  • Elgin - Jake's Women
  • Guelph - Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet
  • Paris - Nana's Naughty Knickers
The week before, on October 18th, we had our production of Mrs. Parliament's Night Out adjudicated, and by the time this is printed Sandy Macdonald will have completed his first five adjudications, one of which is a Festival contender.
We sold several sets of full week tickets at the meeting, and they are also available on line ($100 for 5 shows) - just click the TICKETS tab on the Festival website.  http://www.wodlfestival2016.ca/  At the moment Gala Tickets are only available by calling the Box Office (519-537-2582) as we are wanting to be able to seat groups together at round tables.
Putting all the pieces in place so we'll be ready to roll when the announcement is made February 21st !
Festival 2016 Adjudications Schedule

The adjudications for Festival 2016 are now well under way.

To view the most recent adjudications schedule click here.
Festival 2017

In 2017, Canada will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Confederation. Across the country, organizations and communities have started planning how to celebrate
this major national milestone.

For 2017, WODL is encouraging member groups submit Canadian-written plays as in-Festival entries.

As ever, the play entered into Festival is the choice of each member group.

In 2017 the play that wins the WODL Festival, and is entered into the Theatre Ontario Festival, will be the best play, regardless of its authorship, chosen by the adjudicator.

Here is what Brandon Moore, Community Theatre and Communications Manager at Theatre Ontario, says about the Theatre Ontario Festival in 2017:

We think the proposal of an all-Canadian-written Theatre Ontario Festival in 2017 is a worthy initiative to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday.

We are supporting Playwrights Guild of Canada's Canadian Plays on Community Stages initiative, encouraging the production of Canadian-written plays in 2017.

Since the four productions are chosen from the four regional festivals, it is dependent on the decisions of each region whether or not it will actually be an all Canadian-written Festival.

The Theatre Ontario Festival Guidelines are explicit about this: "Each region will select their own entry to the Theatre Ontario Festival according to their own rules.  Their decision is final."
Review of the WODL General Meeting - Woodstock, Sunday 25 October
Tim Dawdy, President WODL
I would like to thank each of the Member groups that attended the GM in Woodstock on October 25. It was great to see so many new faces and first time delegates. I'm sure we will see everyone again at Festival.

After the meeting completed, I held an informal discussion with the members about what ideas I had for the future of WODL and what we might like to see replace Minifest. The feedback was great and we, as a Board, can explore these options. Also, there were a number of topics that I discussed that may affect some theatre groups. I am providing the links to some of the issues.

Music Use In Theatre:

Theatre Ontario Youth Training Program:

Ontario's Culture Strategy:

The last link provides information regarding upcoming Townhalls for the Ontario government and their strategy for culture. Community theatre is a large part of culture in a lot of our towns...but not according to this information. The more people that can attend these Townhalls and let our voices be heard, the better. I will be attending the Nov 19 meeting in London.

If anyone has any issues that they would like to bring forward to WODL, please feel free to contact me. president@wodl.on.ca

Thanks again and I look forward to seeing everyone at Festival 2016 in Woodstock.


WODL is Reviewing its Policies
Joe Agocs, Constitution and Policy Chair
A successful organization must have policies and procedures. Since its inception in 1932 the WODL has adopted policies and procedures to direct its operation. The WODL maintains these procedures in a manual referred as the Policy Book.  The existing Policy Book was a historical collection of every policy motion that had been passed for the past several decades. Policy and procedures were recorded as approved motions which included dates, mover, seconder and occasional notes for clarification.

The Policy Book had become cumbersome and difficult to peruse. In order to simplify the Policy Book for use and comprehension the Constitution and Policy committee decided to edit the book. For over a year Lynda Agocs (past Chair), Sue Perkins, Mark Mooney and Tim Dawdy sifted through and reorganized the existing manual. Later on Joe Agocs (current Chair) joined the team. At this point the book was reformatted into one consistent format for ease of reading.

At the September 2015 WODL Board meeting the updated Policy Book was reviewed. Several motions were adopted regarding changes and enhancements to policies. The policy changes dealt with the Festival and the operation of the WODL Board.

Highlights of the policy changes were:
  • The Board reinstated the offer of $200 to the 5 participating groups for the WODL Festival. Groups will now be invited to apply for this grant.
  • The wording was tidied up to clarify the allocation of Awards Ball tickets for adjudicators. The preliminary adjudicator and the Festival adjudicator will each receive 2 tickets to the Awards Ball.
  • In order to prevent a conflict of interest the Board approved a motion indicating that the Festival adjudicator not be permitted to play polish or workshop the WODL entry winner for the Theatre Ontario festival.
  • The definition of a juvenile for the Festival Juvenile Award was clarified.  One must be under the age of 18 on the date of the production's adjudication to qualify as a juvenile.
  • A concern about historical copyright (i.e. an old play where the author is no longer alive) resulted in modifying the current policy on copyright to include the action of due diligence. The policy now reads "Any member group of WODL receiving an adjudication must provide proof that permission has been received for any changes made to the script they are using, or proof that with due diligence this permission has been sought and approval of same anticipated".

In an effort to enhance the effectiveness of the operation of the WODL some new policies were adopted while one was edited for streamlining the operation of the Board.
  • Communication is an essential function for a Board to be successful.  In real life it is not always possible to attend a Board meeting for one reason or another.  In order to ensure that the entire Board and WODL region is completely informed and up to date the Board adopted a reporting policy requiring each area Vice President to submit a report at each regularly scheduled meeting whether they are present or not.
  • The Board also implemented a policy to allow Area Vice Presidential duties to be shared with a designate, thus ensuring area representation should the Area VP be unable to attend.
  • Even though the WODL Board consists entirely of volunteer positions some personal expenses are incurred while executing the duties of the Board.  The Board refined the existing expense procedure by providing a clearer definition of time lines.
70th Season at Simcoe Little Theatre

Adam Liefl, Director of Publicity, Simcoe Little Theatre
Simcoe Little Theatre is celebrating its 70th Season in 2015/16, continuing to shine as one of the longest-running community theatres in Southern Ontario! With productions dating back to 1946, Simcoe Little Theatre has entertained audiences with fairy tales, dramas, comedies and outrageous musicals by bringing magic to life on its stage. 
To celebrate the milestone, SLT has put together a "Just for You" concert series which will open December 18th with "Strictly Classics " December 18th, featuring local classically-trained musicians. 

February 27th, Canadian Celtic-Rockers Mudmen, complete with bagpipes and kilts, offer an exciting evening of entertainment, followed by the return of Trio Jazz in early April.

A special feature will be the presentation of "Quilting Pieces" written and directed by local playwrights Elizabeth Corewin and Barbara Robertson, April 29th through May 1st. Accompanying this heart-warming story will be a display of locally made quilts!  

An adjudicated battle of the bands will round out our special 70th anniversary entertainment itinerary in early July, and we'll close our the season-long celebration with a Parking Lot Party in August. All of this to accent a stellar 5-show season! We welcome you to join us in marking this remarkable feat! 

Visit www.simcoelittletheatre.org and find us on Facebook for all the details on this, our 70th Season!
Culture Talks: Developing Ontario's First Culture Strategy

Mark Mooney, WODL Representative to Theatre Ontario
On September 24th, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport launched a series of town hall discussions across the province, as well as online discussions and written briefs. It is a series of province - wide consultations based on a released discussion paper: Telling Our Stories: Growing Our Economy. These consultations are being used to formulate the province's first culture strategy.

If you are like me, this is surprising news. I had not heard of these consultations (or of the Ministry for that matter) until informed of it by Brandon Moore, our Theatre Ontario Community Theatre and Communications Manager.

Now, as Ontarians, we have an opportunity to make our voices heard about the positive values of community theatre to the economy of this province. I take this economic approach because of the title of the discussion paper. It is clear that the province does value culture and sports as a way of developing tourism and the economy - and they should be commended for all that they do to promote this. The province sees the need for developing the talents of young people and of other groups within the province.

As community theatres, we must now make our voices heard in the area of Ontario culture. We must make it clear that we are a positive resource in our local economies. For example, how much do our companies take in for our productions and then return to the local economy in terms of direct (production and theatre costs) and indirect (restaurants, babysitters, etc.) spending? And, as amateurs, we receive no income from these efforts.

First, obtain a copy of the discussion paper: Telling Our Stories: Growing Our Economy by downloading it from the Ministry website. The web address is:  www.mtc.gov.on.ca/en/publications/Culture_Strategy_Discussion_Paper.pdf

Read it over. Make note of the province's spending on tourism, culture and sports, the economic impact of these areas on the annual GDP (gross domestic product). Examine the range of culture and the arts in Ontario. Where does community theatre fit into this? What value do we have to the cultural identity of the province?

Participate online at Culture Talks:

At first glance, it appears that the priorities of the conversations are based on the numbers of people discussing the issues within culture. Music currently is the number one issue (with 497 likes), with visual arts running 7th (39 likes). Theatre, specifically community theatre, is not even mentioned in discussions at this time.

Attend a town hall meeting: There are also two town halls in the WODL region:

LONDON: Museum London, Thursday, November 19th at 7 - 9:30 pm

WINDSOR: Art Gallery of Windsor, Rodzik Gallery, Thursday, December 3rd at 7 - 9:30 pm.

Try to attend one of these to make our voices heard.

Since the 1990s, community theatre has not received any support or funding for training and development from the Ontario government. At that time, there were massive cuts to organizations like the Ontario Arts Council which, for efficiency's sake, had to consolidate its grants to just the professional sectors of the arts. Since then, community theatre could rely on provincial funding of capital projects (building renovations, equipment upgrades, etc.) through the Trillium Foundation - a valuable resource. However, there is no funding for the development of talent at the amateur level through training and education. Training and education funding is only provided to professional artists at this time.

There are challenges presented to us: the development of youth in theatre, the inclusion of aboriginal peoples, developing theatre that speaks to other diverse ethnic groups (40% of all newcomers are here in Ontario).  Are these groups represented in our audience or membership?

The sports sector has clearly determined how to develop its talent from the amateur to professional levels. This part of the ministry website recognizes the value of amateur participation. It also recognizes the value of corporate participation. Investigation of this area needs to be done to see how it could be expanded to the cultural sector.

There is a lot to do - and at the height of our own theatrical seasons. If our voices are to be heard, we MUST take the time and be part of the discussion.
Five Canadian Play Recommendations for Community Theatres

By Lucia Frangione, from the Playwrights Guild of Canada
 Lucia Frangione is an internationally produced award winning playwright and actor residing in Vancouver. 

She has had twenty five plays produced, including: Maid for a Musket (St Lawrence Shakespeare Festival), Etienne (a podplay, Richmond Gateway and Neworld Theatre), Leave of Absence (Pacific Theatre, ACTivist Theatre), FRESCO (Bellaluna, VICC), Paradise Garden (Arts Club) Holy Mo (Pacific) Espresso (Pacific, Belfry, PTE, teatr Powszechny Warsaw), MMM (Ruby Slippers), Cariboo Magi (Lambs Players San Diego), Chickens, Christmas On The Air (Chemainus), Wobbling Madonna (Solo Collective). 

For more information see the following article Comments on Schoolhouse

SchoolhouseComments on Schoolhouse

Dennis Johnson, Chair Festival 2017 Committee, Guelph Little Theatre
Schoolhouse is the best play I ever directed - or so people tell me. (Of course, that can mean a lot of things, can't it?) Set in a rural Ontario one-room school in 1938, the play is based on extensive interviews Leanna Brodie conducted with people who have had the experience of attending such a school. People like me.  I attended Lowville School on the Guelph Line in north Burlington from1952 to 1954, and it was easy to draw on experiences common to the era: rubber boots, wood stoves, Christmas concerts (back in the days when you could call them that).

Schoolhouse is unique in the sense that it can be cast to suit any producing company.  It allows for multiple casting, with the same actor playing both children and their parents who appear from time to time. When the Blyth Festival staged the premiere of this play in 2006, they cast adults in all roles. The same professional actor played mother and daughter, father and son. A year later the 4th Line Theatre staged the play with a cast of thousands - one age-appropriate actor for every role. A luxury they can afford with their strong community pool of actors. I staged Schoolhouse at the River Run Centre in Guelph the following year and took the third option - the most challenging one. We cast 4 adults, 3 University of Guelph drama majors, and 7 local elementary and high school students. Three of the children played their own parent - one father-son pairing, one mother-daughter, and one son-mother. It was fun, but also totally believable.

Schoolhouse went on to be produced by the Festival Players of Prince Edward County, and by the Burl-Oak Theatre Group in Oakville. It's time that other community theatres discovered Leanna Brodie's work. Look her up on the Playwrights Guild website.
Is your WODL Membership Information Up-to-date?

Are you on the board of a theatre group that belongs to WODL? If your group has:
  • A new President
  • New WODL delegates
  • A new Treasurer
Please let our membership chair, Sue Perkins, know at  membership@wodl.on.ca
Dates for your Diary

19 November 2015 Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport town hall meeting at Museum London 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
3 December 2015 Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Sport town hall meeting at Art Gallery of Windsor 7:30 pm to 9:00 pm.
21 February 2016 WODL General Meeting, 1:00 pm Woodstock. Out-of-Festival award winners, and the five finalist productions, are announced.

14 to 19 March 2016 WODL Festival 2016, Woodstock

18 to 21 May 2016 Theatre Ontario Festival 2016, North Bay.

13 to 18 March 2017 WODL Festival 2017, Guelph

15 to 20 May 2017 Theatre Ontario Festival 2017, Ottawa

This newsletter was prepared by:  

Tricia Ward
Communications Coordinator

Western Ontario Drama League | communications@wodl.on.ca | http://www.wodl.on.ca