Western Ontario Drama League
Newsletter April 2021
In this issue:

  • Update on Festival 2022
  • Festival Adjudicators are Great People
  • Refreshed WODL Website
  • Virtual Theatre at Theatre Woodstock
  • Performing in the Pandemic: Outdoors vs. Indoors
  • Community Theatre in the WODL Region
  • Scarborough Music Theatre - Survey of Community Theatres in Ontario
  • New Plays from the Playwights Canada Press
  • Off the Wall - Drops and Murals
  • Inspiration
  • Playwrights Guild of Canada - Canadian Play Outlet
  • If you are producing Canadian Plays this Season - Check This Out
  • Is your WODL Membership Information Up-to-date?
  • Dates for your Diary
Quick Links:
Update on Festival 2022
By Mona Brennan Coles, WODL President, president@wodl.on.ca
WODL will not hold a traditional Festival in 2022. The WODL Board has deferred the decision about providing local adjudications in the 2021-2022 season for now.

The WODL Board’s decision to cancel Festival 2022:

  • recognizes the amount of work involved in planning and preparing for a traditional WODL Festival,
  • reflects the uncertainty that we are still facing about when we may be able to resume in-person theatre performances safely and economically, and
  • acknowledges that different regions of the province are, and may continue to be, in different phases of re-opening.

Area Vice Presidents reported that groups in their areas are making numerous contingency plans for future productions. While some groups might have a production available for an out-of-Festival adjudication, very few groups are willing, or able, to participate in a traditional Festival in 2022.

We are able to defer the decision about providing local adjudications as a learning opportunity for WODL groups because:

  • our Adjudications Chair, Ken Menzies, has already engaged the adjudicator, Alexander Gallant, and
  • the well-established process for arranging local adjudications is easily adjusted to accommodate changes in time.
Festival Adjudicators are Great People
By Ken Menzies, WODL Adjudications Chair, adjudications@wodl.on.ca
No surprise: WODL hires its adjudicators because it expects them to do a great job of adjudicating. Our Festival adjudicator for Festival 2022 was to be Annette Procunier. I heard her adjudicate a production of Later Life by Gurney at the Eastern Ontario Theatre Festival. She works by understanding the character’s motivations and discussing how well these are conveyed by the actors. Other elements of the production -- e.g. blocking, set and costumes -- are considered in relation to how well the motivations can be presented. Impressively, she works from memory. No notes.

We would have been in for a treat at Festival 2022, if the WODL board had not reluctantly cancelled the traditional Festival. We learnt from the Area Vice Presidents that few if any groups planned to enter a show in festival in 2021-2022. Further details about WODL cancellation are in the President’s remarks sent to people last week.

One clause in the Festival adjudicator’s contract allows WODL to cancel the contract up to September 30 of the year before Festival (September 30, 2021 in Annette’s case). The clause was inserted in the contract in case some group hosting Festival had to pull out of hosting for a reason like using a rented theatre which was not going to be available for some reason which the landlord thought good. However, the clause also allows WODL to cancel the contract because of COVID.

When I phoned Annette Procunier to tell her that WODL was not holding a traditional Festival and that we would not be using her as our Festival adjudicator, but would pay her half her fee, she was disappointed that Festival was cancelled. She has been involved with WODL for many years. About fifty years ago she participated in a WODL Festival as a member of the Brantford Drama League, and about forty years ago she was member of Guelph Little Theatre. On the contract clause saying WODL owed her half her fee for Festival adjudicating, she told me WODL could tear up the contract saying: “We are all in this together.”

Not surprisingly WODL will be delighted to hire this great person again to adjudicate the Festival.
Refreshed WODL Website
By Mary Jane Walzak, WODL Webmaster, webmaster@wodl.on.ca
WODL has a new website and we hope you enjoy it.
The HOME page has links to the most recent information, newsletters, updates, and upcoming events. Check here to see what is going on at the moment.
The ABOUT page has information on who we are, what we do, our Board of Directors, Life Members and How to Join. If you want to figure out who your Area VP is and how to contact them - this is the place to look.
The MEMBER GROUPS page has a list of our members, their contact information, and the location of their performance space. If you are looking for a particular group and want to know where they are located - this is the place to look. If any of this information is incorrect or needs to be updated, please contact me at webmaster@wodl.on.ca
The FESTIVAL page contains general information about our Festivals, some specific information on our upcoming Festivals and our Festival Archives. The Archives are still growing as I add files, so keep checking back. We hope to have electronic copies of the programs and the lists of award winners available so you can check to see what year it was that you won that award.
The NEWSLETTER page contains links to all of the newsletters since 2015. Browse through, reminisce!
The RESOURCES page is continuously evolving as we have more information. This page contains Covid information, relevant forms, and manuals, for WODL, information on copyrights, set building and any other information that could be of use to our member groups.
The WORKSHOPS page has the information necessary for your group to apply for funding for your workshop from WODL. We are happy to help. Also on this page you can find workshops hosted by WODL. Drop back often to find out what is being offered.
If there is something NOT on the website that you would like to see, let me know - webmaster@wodl.on.ca
Virtual Theatre at Theatre Woodstock
By Stefannie Flannigan, General Manager Theatre Woodstock
Like many others, we decided after we shut down that we wanted to do SOMETHING to attempt to survive what we thought was the loss of a few shows. Of course, the losses kept piling up and we realized that this something had to be done remotely…with no production budget, very little tech skills and even less equipment and resources

As we watched some groups dip their toes into what everyone was now calling Virtual Theatre, we were intrigued, but also plagued by many of the doubts still facing most community theatres: Is this something our audiences will connect with? Do we have the literal and metaphorical bandwidth to make it happen? Will it ever be the same as live theatre? And honestly, the answer to all those questions was NO. But the most important question became: What do we have to lose? If we do nothing, we completely lose the connection we have spent 75 years building with our community. If we attempt something we can see a few familiar faces, have a few laughs, and just maybe have some usable final products to show for our efforts.

With so many of our patrons and volunteers in high-risk categories for COVID, we had no option to gather and film in person. So, like so many others, we have been relying exclusively on Zoom and other video sharing apps to rehearse and film our shows. With rural internet to factor in, there was no option to stream our shows live, so we made our best attempt to become film editors with no training or software (thankfully most devices now come with a basic free editor like iMovie for Mac or Video Editor for PC). We would then charge a reduced price for tickets or ask for donations through our regular online Box Office, send everyone a link to an Unlisted YouTube upload of our show…and that’s it! Theatre Woodstock in your living room with little to no production costs.

Now of course this method is not without challenges. The options are limited in terms of which shows are available for streaming rights, and even the ones that are available often come with incredibly expensive streaming requirements that many of us just cannot afford right now. Engaging volunteers who might be intimidated by technology can often require some very clever sales tactics. And believe us when we say that getting a 7-year-old to properly set up a green screen made from a Dollarama tablecloth while you’re instructing them through their glitchy tablet is no small feat!

But on the other hand, the unanticipated benefits of virtual theatre are also making themselves known to us every day. It allows grandparents who are homebound to finally see their grandchildren in a show. It forces us to be resourceful in our own homes instead of spending money on props that we often have to throw out later due to lack of storage space. It gives us the opportunity to produce new works that would have otherwise been sitting in draft folders for years without an audience. And mostly it allows us to get back to our roots as theatre creators and make mistakes, be courageous and improvise.

We are all living out a global experiment on the power of arts to persevere through hard times. Theatre has always been about that particular leap of faith: gathering in a room with few plans and leaving the rest up to the collaboration and the imagination that happens in the rehearsal hall. The same is true for virtual theatre – the room just looks a little different.
Performing in the Pandemic: Outdoors vs. Indoors
By Brandon Moore
One of the most common questions around performing arts activities during the pandemic is around indoor versus outdoor performances.

The most significant thing that changes under the current legislation for outdoor performance is that you are allowed a greater capacity: a maximum of 100 people in the Green, Yellow, or Orange Zones. However, even outdoor venues must be closed to patrons if your Public Health Unit is classified in the Red or Grey Zone.

Likewise, the requirements for two metres of physical distancing, collecting patron contact information, performing the appropriate level of patron screening, and having your written safety plan posted conspicuously are the same indoors and outdoors.

Face coverings are required outdoors when proper physical distancing cannot be maintained. When dealing with patrons outdoors, unpredictability makes it a good practice to make sure front of house personnel are equipped with face coverings—ideally full personal protective equipment consisting of a face shield and medical mask (a regulatory requirement for anyone who is a worker, including anyone receiving an honorarium, and a good practice for a volunteer who will be interacting with a lot of different people.)

The requirements for plexiglass or other impermeable barrier between performers and patrons when there is singing or playing brass or wind instruments also applies regardless of an outdoor or indoor performance setting.

Remember, your local Public Health Unit may also have stricter requirements than the province through their Orders and Instructions.

TIP FOR THE MONTH: While operating in the Green Zone, you are not required to collect contact information from all patrons. However, it’s a good practice to do this anyway—if cases rise and you are moved into the Yellow or Orange Zone, you’ll regret not having that information and having to try and collect it from everyone you’ve sold tickets to.

Q&A: If you have any questions for Brandon, that you would like him to answer in this newsletter in May, please send them to communications@wodl.on.ca.

Next month, I’ll share some of the resources that are available on patron screening.
Community Theatre in the WODL Region
Several WODL member groups are keeping active during this time. A good place to find out about these activities is on the WODL Facebook page, WODL | Facebook. Most of the announcements are at fairly short notice, so check in often!

If your group is putting on an event that you would like included in the May newsletter, please send the information to communications@wodl.on.ca.

Cambridge Community Players online auction:

Looking for a unique gift and support community theatre at the same time, check out the Cambridge Community Players Online Auction which runs from March 14 until April 30, 2021 at www.cambridgecommunityplayers.com

Elora Community Theatre, Virtual Playhouse:

Next up in the Virtual Playhouse, Elora Community Theatre presents Stuart Little written by E.B. White, adapted by Joseph Robinett and directed by Deb Stanton on April 24, 2021 on ECT’s Virtual Playhouse YouTube Channel found on the website
Scarborough Music Theatre - Survey of Community Theatres in Ontario
The social media for Scarborough Music Theatre tweeted a lengthy thread profiling most of the community theatres across the province. Take a look, you'll be suprised at how many theatres there are!

Here is the link to the thread:

March 22, 23, and 24

New Plays from the Playwrights Canada Press
By Jessica Lewis, Sales & Marketing Manager, Playwrights Canada Press, jessica@playwrightscanada.com 
Check out these new releases from Playwrights Canada Press:

New Magic Valley Fun Town by Daniel MacIvor
When Dougie’s childhood friend Allen comes to visit, a night reminiscing, drinking, and dancing turns into a raw examination of their past.
Bare Bear Bones by Michael Grant
In an effort to rekindle their spark, empty nesters Norm and Ruth book a trip to a familiar family campground, only to realize that it’s now a nudist camp. 
Theory by Norman Yeung
In this thrilling exploration of the intersections and divisions within liberalism, a young professor finds herself in a high-stakes game of cat-and-mouse.

Pre-orders these coming soon:

Halfway There by Norm Foster
A heartbroken doctor meets four gregarious women in a small Maritime town in this feel-good comedy about the true bonds of friendship.
When Words Sing: Seven Canadian Libretti edited by Julie Salverson
When Words Sing turns the spotlight on everything that goes into writing for opera, featuring seven contemporary Canadian libretti.
The Bridge by Shauntay Grant
Set in a rural Black Nova Scotian community, this gospel-infused tale explores the complex relationship between two brothers strained over twenty years of secrecy, deception, and dishonour.
The archetypal student-teacher romance is cleverly turned on its head for the post-#MeToo era.

You can find more new releases, books coming soon, and a blog full of interviews and excerpts on playwrightscanada.com!
Off the Wall - Drops and Murals
By Michele Boniface, Chair, Off the Wall Stratford Artists Alliance, mboniface@cyg.net
Click here for a printable version of this poster.

Facebook @offthewallstrat
Hashtags: #stratfordoffthewall #theatreproduction #backstage

This was produced in Canada during Covid restrictions.

This Easter season, Messiah/Complex returns for an encore presentation. From April 1 to 13, 2021, the multi-award-winning innovative team at Against the Grain Theatre (AtG) presents the globally lauded and distinctly Canadian virtual interpretation of Handel’s Messiah, accompanied by and in partnership with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), and co-directed by Joel Ivany, the Founding Artistic Director of AtG, and Reneltta Arluk, Director of Indigenous Arts at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

The daring, 70-minute performance of Messiah/Complex, filmed against iconic Canadian landscapes, showcases multilingual translations, and features a diverse cast of soloists and choirs representing every province and territory across Canada, accompanied by the exceptional sounds of the TSO and conducted by Johannes Debus (Canadian Opera Company).

To watch the Messiah/Complex you need a pay-what-you-can registration on the Against the Grain website.

The Messiah/Complex is also available, until May 15, as part of the Stratford Festival subscription series.

Playwrights Guild of Canada - Canadian Play Outlet
The Canadian Play Outlet has over 2000 Canadian Plays right at your fingertips. Looking for something specific? Check out the curated Collections.

Every month you can take a look at the newest unpublished and published plays available!
If you are Producing Canadian Plays this Season - Check This Out
The Playwrights Guild of Canada publicises productions of Canadian-written plays through its website, www.playwrightsguild.ca.

If you want to perform a Canadian play but cannot figure out where to obtain the amateur performance rights, view this presentation from PGC.
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, Tim Dawdy, know at membership@wodl.on.ca
Dates for your Diary:
30 April 2021
Deadline for submissions for the May newsletter
18 July 2021
WODL Annual General Meeting, Zoom
13 March to 18 March 2023
WODL Festival 2023
11 March to 16 March 2024
WODL Festival 2024, Leamington
This newsletter was prepared by:
Tricia Ward
Communications coordinator

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

Copyright © Western Ontario Drama League 2021. All Rights Reserved.