Tuesday, April 20, 2021

From history & nostalgia to something shiny & new

By Dan White – Special to the Sydenham Current

In this week’s column: something steeped in history and nostalgia and something shiny and new.

As regular readers of this column may recall, I taught at SCITS in Sarnia for 29 of my 31 years in education.

Like my co-contributor Dave Babbitt, here in The ‘Burg, I returned to my alma mater in Sarnia and loved immersing myself in the arts and tradition of that historic building.

This time of year was always the highlight of the school year for me.

The last weekend in February or first one in March was always when the storied SCITS Revue took place in the 867-seat theatre in the heart of the school.

I directed the show for 19 years and loved the hustle, bustle, comradery and creative explosion that was ‘The Revue’.

The tradition brought together students from across the grain of the school: Drama geeks wrote or borrowed skits, music geeks performed in some great bands and solo acts, the jock guys through together something resembling a dance where they managed to be a crowd pleaser every year, the girls (and in later years guys – thanks in large part to colleagues Petra Ramos and Patti Coulthard) began rehearsals in September and created much anticipated dance numbers that were often jaw dropping, tech kids worked behind the scenes, never seeking the limelight but essential to a smooth show, a number of staff worked with me to stitch together a quilt of the school talent and those that were not
directly involved were mostly in the audience proudly witnessing the school tradition.

Everyone in the school was encouraged to take to the stage in one way or another.

Joni and I have spoken about the Tartan Revue here in Wallaceburg and her days singing in the one-time WDSS tradition and, if we manage to get a space that can accommodate a performance in town, it would be great to mount a show here.

But I digress.

The tradition of The Revue is over a century old, starting before SCITS opened in 1922 and continues at the amalgamated SCITS/St Clair school.

(Well, it will when COVID is over and if the board can actually complete the promised auditorium.)

I decided that the 100th anniversary of SCITS should be recognized what better way to do that than an Alumni SCITS Revue.

So, since the old stage is now on the market and the name stricken from the LKDSB active roster, I reached out to former SCITS student and current Imperial Theatre executive director, Brian Austin.

Planning is underway to host the 100th Anniversary show at The Imperial on May 5-7, 2022.

A team is being assembled to create the three-day event and all SCITS alum will be invited to audition.

If you attended SCI and want to resurrect the Blue Bomber spirit watch here and on Facebook for announcements and gather your old band, cast mates or dancing group and start brain storming.

Now something new: In August as I interviewed local visual artist, and friend, Troy Brooks prior to his show in L.A.

We noted that his paintings are clearly narrative and it would be fun to have people write a short story inspired by one of his works.

It has taken several months but that pondering has come to fruition.

Together with Chatham area artist Danielle Coleman we have created the Chatham-Kent Art House project.

We have been very fortunate to have Teksavvy agree to sponsor this venture, supported by the Wallaceburg and District Council for the Arts.

Our aim is to create a new multi-disciplinary event that further promotes arts within C-K.

For this project visual art will be requested from area artists beginning Feb 28 and closing March 28.

From all submissions three juried selections will become the basis and inspiration for a call for creative writing projects beginning April 4 and closing May 2.

Any resident of C-K who is a new or emerging artist is encouraged to enter. We set up this project, reserving spots for secondary school students in both the visual arts and writing phase as encouraging creativity in our youth is essential to sustained health in a vibrant arts community.

It is our hope that this project becomes the spring board to another creative venture in our community.

The nine selected works (three visual art and six creative writing) will be featured on the WDCA web page, in this column, and in a Zine created from submitted works.

Details and information can be found at:

Website: https://www.ckarthouse.com/

Facebook page: Chatham Kent Art House Project

Or email us at: chathamkentarthouseproject@gmail.com

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