Western Ontario Drama League

Newsletter September 2022

In this issue:
  • What the Prez Sez
  • COVID Update
  • Adjudications for the 2022-2023 Season
  • Phyllis Leighton - Travelling Adjudicator 2022-2023 Season
  • New WODL Life Members
  • Area VP Needed for the Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk-Oxford Region
  • WODL Workshop Series from Revenue Canada
  • Community Theatre in the WODL Region
  • Theatre Sarnia
  • Relaxed Performances and a Better Theatre for the Disabled
  • Off the Wall - Fall Workshops
  • New Plays from the Playwrights Canada Press
  • 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
WODL board
WODL website
WODL on Facebook
Join our mailing list
WODL on Twitter
LinkedIn Share This Email

What the Prez Sez

By Linda Lloyd-McKenzie, WODL President, president@wodl.on.ca

Well, hello there! Greetings fellow thespians! 

It’s hard to believe that summer is just about over. There’s getting to be a crispness in the air at night that certainly foretells the changing of the season. I really love Autumn: the bright/naturally-painted leaves of red, gold and orange; sweater weather (hoodies are my life); sleeping at night with the windows open; the sounds of crickets or cicadas (I never could tell their sounds apart); and the beginning of theatre season (for most community theatres). 

For those theatres that are busy in rehearsal for the first show of the season, congratulations and welcome back to the stage. For many it is the first production since our world tipped sideways in 2020. For some, it is another attempt at a production that may or may not make it past the finish line. Some groups found some measure of success in online or smaller-cast shows, and now may be finally back to their regular programming. 

Whatever point your group is at in this “not-quite-but-kind-of-feels-like" post-pandemic era, I sincerely wish you much luck, love and success--however that may be measured. 



COVID Update

By Brandon Moore

As the Province of Ontario plans to “stay open and manage COVID-19 for the long term”, theatres are now into contingency planning mode as they figure out our “new normal.” This manifests itself in two specific areas: with members for rehearsals and performances, and with audiences.

Contingency planning for productions is challenging. The main question theatres need to ask is: What is the consequence of illness and/or an outbreak among our company? Are there vulnerable members of the company? Can performances be rescheduled relatively easily? This will determine what preventive measures you may need to be considering regarding the use of masks (in and out of the theatre), vaccination requirements and testing for cast and crew during rehearsals and performances. As has been the case throughout this pandemic, there is no “one size fits all” answer—you will have to make the best decisions based on the situation within your community.

For audiences, handling expectations is equally tricky. Some audience members are still not prepared to return to the theatre, some audiences expect mandatory masking, proof of vaccination and social distancing, and some audiences don’t want to attend if they have to be masked. Again, your local community will help you make these decisions, but recognizing these conflicting interests, theatres may need to consider mixing up their performances, with both mask-free performances and masked/socially-distanced performances (perhaps on traditionally low-selling nights.)

The Ministry is no longer providing sector-specific briefings, and most COVID-19 response forums that I’ve been involved with have finished their work and closed down. But I will share any innovative new responses and discussions that come my way.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour Advisory Group for Live Performance has been back in its guideline development mode for the last year. With the election behind us, we are looking forward to launching “plain language” versions of several existing guidelines, with a new safety guideline for working in the dark hopefully published soon.

Adjudications for the 2022-2023 Season

Applications for adjudication are now open. The deadline for applications is Friday 16 September. All applications for adjudication received by September 16 will be considered together when deciding on adjudication dates. While late adjudication will be entertained, they are less likely to be accepted and you are less likely to get your first choice of date.

To view the Application for Adjudication Form as a printable and downloadable PDF click here.


Information on the available adjudication dates and the adjudication process is included on the form.


Because in 2023 many groups may lack the funds and person power to travel, there will be no Festival during the school March Break, as was usual in pre-COVID times. The travelling adjudicator will select awards which will be distributed during the Reunion Gala on the Victoria Day Weekend. To ensure that all groups have an equal chance at all the awards, we ask that if you apply for two adjudications, you indicate which is the primary adjudication – the one that will be considered for awards.

Phyllis Leighton - Travelling Adjudicator 2022-2023 Season

Phyllis Leighton

Born in Chatham, and raised in both Durham and London, Phyllis Leighton, has deep roots in Western Ontario.


Phyllis brings: a lively interest and passion for the performing arts, theatrical/musical training, acquired skills as an educator, and personal experience as an actor, singer, dancer, pianist, puppeteer, conductor, designer, vocal coach, counsellor, and director to her role as a theatre adjudicator. With both professional and amateur experience in theatre, Phyllis offers a fresh and thoughtful approach to adjudication, that is positive, informed, engaging, and educational. 


Her wide range of experience has allowed Phyllis to work with both youth, and adult members of the theatre community. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English & Drama, a Bachelor of Education from Western University, and Specialists in Drama, and Vocal Music from the University of Toronto. While maintaining a full-time career as a Drama & Music teacher, with the Thames Valley District School Board in London, Phyllis acquired valuable insight and experience as a qualified Special Education teacher. 


Phyllis has served on the Board of Directors for the Bluewater Summer Playhouse in Kincardine, and continues her work as a Drama Camp Coordinator, and Instructor. Her work as a director in community theatres has spanned southwestern Ontario, and includes: the Elgin Theatre Guild in St. Thomas, Goderich Little Theatre, the Kincardine Theatre Guild, and the London Community Players. Phyllis has enjoyed film work, and voice acting, and appeared in ‘The Bruce’, a documentary film series for TVO, covering the history of the Saugeen Ojibway Territory and Bruce County. She offers workshops as a Vocal Coach and performs regularly as a standardized patient at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine. While enjoying the creative improvisation and audience participation that dinner theatre affords, Phyllis regularly performs with Murder For Hire, a murder mystery theatre troupe based in London.


Since COVID, Phyllis has renewed her interest in the many technical aspects of the theatre; in particular, lighting, set, and sound design. She is greatly looking forward to directing once again as part of the upcoming 2022-2023 season for the Goderich Little Theatre, with a production of The Addams Family musical.


In her spare time, Phyllis enjoys gardening, fitness, photography, cooking, and performing as a church soloist. Phyllis is a proud mother of 3, enjoys hunting for ‘treasures’ in secondhand stores, and taking brisk walks with her dogs along the Lake Huron shoreline.

New WODL Life Members

At the AGM in July, three new life members of WODL were announced. Here are the citations that were read at the AGM by Sue Perkins, Life members chair.


WODL is now emerging from the restrictions and difficulties of coping with COVID-19 for two years.  During this time WODL had no income - just as all our member groups also had to shut down operations, which not only denied them any income to pay the rent etc., but also took an enormous emotional toll. This likewise impacted WODL as our lifeblood is our members and they were all in difficulties.


During this time, our Treasurer, Peter Busby, guided us through the financial implications of the two-year-plus lock down. He was instrumental in ensuring our members, who likewise were denied their income, paid only a nominal fee to remain part of our organization. He kept a tight rein on spending and a close eye on our investments and we have emerged with at least some money in the bank to support our membership with the online workshops and be ready to start up the offer of adjudications again, albeit with Festivals on hold for a few years until everyone has a chance to get back on to a sound financial footing.  His knowledge and wisdom have been invaluable, and his advice during meetings appreciated.  

Peter was initially nominated by Pamela Niesiobedzki-Curtis.


WODL thanks you, Peter.


Dennis has been a familiar figure within WODL for some time. He has co-chaired a Festival (2017), and done a lot of work at several others, been a travelling adjudicator several times, been the Theatre Ontario Liaison  Community Theatre, and directed many plays for Guelph Little Theatre.

Dennis accompanied our Adjudications Chair, Ken Menzies, to several trial adjudications and his feedback has been excellent. Ken was also directed by him, and can say from his experience that Dennis is a good director. Ken has heard numerous of his adjudications and they have been excellent. Dennis has made a major contribution to our organization and we are pleased to appoint him as an Honorary Life Member.

The award was accepted by Ken Menzies on behalf of Dennis Johnson.


WODL thanks you, Dennis

MONA BRENNAN-COLES - appointed as an Honorary Life Member of WODL

During the past two years plus, Mona Brennan-Coles came to the Presidency early because of the sad loss of our then President, Lynda Agocs, one of the first to die of this new scourge of COVID-19, and the tragedy rippled through the WODL community.  Throughout the past two years plus Mona has guided us through these very troubled waters, maintaining contact with our member groups and making sure they were not forgotten as all activity, Festivals etc. ground to a halt. She encouraged and assisted in organizing online workshops, which were eagerly received, ensured meetings were held regularly using the format of Zoom, which went from nowhere on everyone’s radar to super important to maintain contact with friends and colleagues all over a locked down Western Ontario. 


In addition, Mona did this while facing a major personal health crisis - which she did not let get in the way of keeping WODL on track.  She has helped us weather a terrible storm and will continue to provide support to the incoming President.  We are very happy to appoint Mona as an Honorary Life Member of WODL.


WODL thanks you, Mona.

Area VP Needed for the Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk-Oxford Region

By Mona Brennan-Coles, WODL Nominating Committee Chair, mona@wodl.on.ca

WODL is looking for an Area VP to represent the member groups Paris Performers Theatre Inc., Simcoe Little Theatre, Theatre Tillsonburg and Theatre Woodstock all located in the Brant-Haldimand-Norfolk-Oxford region. This is a great opportunity to represent your region, support community theatre across WODL and influence WODL direction. In my years as a WODL board member, both the community theatre groups I participate in, and me personally, have benefited from my participation. 

WODL does not directly pay any expenses incurred on behalf of WODL such as tickets to performances, mileage, meals, etc. WODL does offer a tax receipt for expenses (meals, mileage, accommodation, etc.). - the impact of the tax receipt varies. In the past, potential board members have declined the opportunity to participate on the WODL board because of financial constraints. WODL is committed to all meetings being hybrid – in person and via Zoom and is hoping that this makes it possible for more individuals to participate on the board.


Duties of the Area VP include:

Representing the member groups in their area to the WODL board by:

  • interacting with the member groups to support them on behalf of WODL – reporting about the groups at the board meetings and ensuring that the member groups are aware of what WODL is doing, and they able to provide input.

  • attending their performances when possible.

  • participating in their adjudications when possible e.g., introducing the adjudicator.

Attending board meetings in person, or via Zoom, as makes sense for the Area VP

In person board meetings are hosted by various member groups throughout the WODL region. Here is the 2022-2023 schedule:

  • September 18, 2022 @ 10:30 am – Hanover (Hanover Community Players at the Hanover Civic Theatre)
  • October 16, 2022 – @ 11:00 am followed by Delegates Meeting @ 1:00 pm – In person TBD
  • November 20, 2022 @ 10:30 am – In person TBD
  • January 15, 2023 @ 10:30 am – London (London Community Players at the Palace Theatre)
  • February 19, 2023 – @ 10:30 am – In person TBD
  • March 19, 2023 – @ 10:30 am – In person TBD
  • April 23, 2023 @ 11:00 am followed by Delegates Meeting @ 1:00 pm – In person TBD
  • May 7, 2023 @ 10:30 am – Special Board Meeting for Travelling Adjudicator’s Report - via Zoom
  • June 4, 2023 @ 10:30 am – In person TBD
  • August 13, 2023 – @ 11:00 am followed by Delegates Meeting @ 1:00 pm – In person TBD


Please let me know if you have any questions. I am happy to talk with you about this opportunity.

WODL Workshop Series from Revenue Canada

WODL and Revenue Canada are offering a series of free workshops to WODL members. Each workshop is 60 minutes long and is available on Zoom. The slideshow will be available to all attendees after each workshop.

All workshops are at 1:00 pm. To attend contact workshops@wodl.on.ca.

September 21, 2022:

Capital Properties (real and personal) and applicable input tax credits

October 5, 2022:

Public Service Bodies Rebate

November 16, 2022:

GST/HST audits and examination plus books and records

January 11, 2023:

Directors Liability and Taxpayer Rights

Community Theatre in the WODL Region

A good place to find out about what other WODL groups are doing is 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 October newsletter, please send the information to communications@wodl.on.ca.

Theatre Sarnia

In early August, Off the Wall offered a gothic set for free to any WODL member group who could transport the set from Stratford to their home theatre.

Theatre Sarnia was able to take possession of this set for their production of Beauty and the Beast.

Here is the set with the Off the Wall students who built it:

Relaxed Performances and a Better Theatre for the Disabled

By Ken Menzies, WODL Adjudications Chair with a neuroatypical {autistic} grandson, adjudications@wodl.on.ca

Recently I volunteered as an usher at Theatre on the Grand in Center Wellington (previously known as Fergus) for a workshop run by SPARC (Supporting Performance Arts in Rural and Remote Communities). One presentation appeared to me to be of special interest to WODL members. It was on how to present a relaxed performance: A performance that those with anxieties about attending a standard theatrical performance would find appealing.

The presenter, Rachel Marks, went way beyond what is widely accepted - leave the house lights on dimly so that audience members always know where they are. She talked about preparing a booklet outlining every step in attending the theatre from arriving by public transport or where to park. Neuroatypical people, a central audience for relaxed performances, like no surprises. Many of her suggestions were about how to accommodate people with mobility limitations. For instance, which toilet should a father with an adult disabled daughter use if there is no family washroom and she needs help after using the toilet. The presenter, Rachel Marks, can be contacted at rachel.marks@mac.com or 613-349-5151.her website is www.rachelmarks.ca. She earns her living in part by helping groups with relaxed performances and being more accessible. For instance, she has worked with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, the National Ballet of Canada and Harbourfront Centre. In consequence, you will have to pay her a fee. She knows her stuff and is excellent at presenting her ideas. Being more accessible is important. I recommend her without qualification.

Off the Wall - Fall Workshops

By Michele Boniface, Chair, Off the Wall Stratford Artists Alliance, mboniface@cyg.net
Facebook @offthewallstrat
Hashtags: #stratfordoffthewall #theatreproduction #backstage

New Plays from the Playwrights Canada Press

By Jessica Lewis, Sales & Marketing Manager, Playwrights Canada Press, jessica@playwrightscanada.com 

Check out these new books from Playwrights Canada Press!


Recently released:


Forget Me Not by Ronnie Burkett

The latest from the internationally acclaimed puppeteer, a love letter for increasingly uncivilized times.


Coming soon:


Public Enemy by Olivier Choinière, translated by Bobby Theodore

Dysfunctional family members blame each other for society’s wrongdoings.


Blow Wind by Daniel Macdonald, with music by Eileen Laverty

A daughter returns to the family farm, and everything changes.


See what else is  coming soon.

Did you know you can browse our plays by subjects and casting? 

Want to hear more about sales and upcoming events? Sign up for our newsletter!


You can find more new releases, a blog full of interviews and excerpts, and more on playwrightscanada.com!

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!

See August 2022 releases.

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, Sam Hillier, know at membership@wodl.on.ca

Dates for your Diary:

16 September 2022

Deadline for adjudication applications

30 September 2022

Deadline for submissions for the October newsletter

11 October 2022

Adjudications begin

16 October 2022

WODL General Meeting

23 April 2023

WODL  General Meeting

30 April 2023

Adjudications end

Victoria Day Long Weekend, May 20-22, 2023
WODL Festival 2023

13 August 2023


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 2022. All Rights Reserved.
See what's happening on our social sites
Facebook  Twitter