Thursday, May 19, 2022

Arts and culture is springing back to life

By Dan White – Special to the Sydenham Current

Like the land, arts and culture is springing back to life around us.

Joni and I have had the pleasure of experiencing a few activities that had been in a two-year hibernation and we are looking to some exciting new ventures on the horizon.

A few weeks ago, we attended the first offering by Theatre Kent since The Dresser in February of 2020.

Calendar Girls was originally scheduled to be the spring show in 2020 and kudos to TK for remounting the show.

Only a handful of the original cast remained the same so director Mellisa Bristow was largely starting from scratch with the cast.

Among other challenges in producing a live theatre production, this one had a cast member fall ill part way through the final performance.

The old adage, “The show must go on” actually is a thing in theatre and the company sent out a member of the crew with script in hand to ensure the performance continued.

By the way, if you have never been to the Kiwanis Theatre in Chatham, it is a nice venue to take in a show.

While I am writing about theatre – Theatre Kent is presenting Homegrown Shorts, an evening in June with several 10–15 minute long scripts written over the past several months by Kent County residents.

Still with theatre – wouldn’t it be nice to have productions in Wallaceburg?

The Jeanne Gordon Theatre is really not a theatre anymore, the fire marshal has ruled that it is not safe for live theatre.

It’s quite unfortunate as it is a lovely little venue that now hosts movies, a karate club and the occasional musician but not actors; at best, it is a hall.

Final theatre topic for the week: Joni and I attended the first ever production at the new auditorium at Sarnia’s Great Lakes Secondary School.

(The school that was St Clair SS with some modifications.)

The auditorium is a lovely venue, holding roughly 600 people.

We attended the first Revue in two years, a tradition that started with Sarnia Collegiate over a century ago and was transported to the new school by former Scits student and GLSS teacher, April Brander.

With only a few students with any theatre or Revue experience (it is hard to act virtually) April and her crew mounted a show with about 70 students.

It was an entertaining evening and while the venue has inadequate lighting and no ability to control the climate, the staff and students involved did a wonderful job making the roughly 1500 in attendance over three shows have a lovely evening out.

The Wallaceburg Concert Band has been rehearsing for a few weeks now and we are preparing for an outdoor concert June 26.

I will leave it to Dave to fill in the gaps, but do mark the date on your calendar and plan to bring family for a wonderful outdoor concert here in Wallaceburg.

Rehearsals have been a challenge as Dave has insisted, and band members have agreed, that any sign of illness means stay the blazes home.

(Remember that slogan from the early days of the virus.)

The result is we have several musicians away every week. Dave took that into account when planning for the concert and added more rehearsals than we would normally need and, I must say, things are starting to sound good.

Following up on this, prior to COVID several of the band members would go out after rehearsal for a bite and a bit of socializing.

For the first time in about 27 months Joni and I actually sat in a restaurant and enjoyed a bite.

There is only one option to go to in town after 9 p.m. on a week day.

Hopefully, when the new brewery opens, they won’t roll up the sidewalk at 6 p.m. and we can support them as well.

Our brass quintet has been fortunate in that we could sustain rehearsals throughout the past few years and, as regular readers know, we have created several fun little videos where we play the music that accompanies the five of us, and occasionally some friends, acting out something that we think connects with what we play.

Next up will be a video featuring Ol Man River and the quintet showcasing local waterways.

One of the many things I truly did not know about The Burg prior to moving here is what a gem the local waterways are.
It will be fun to show them off… and it lends itself to some cool drone footage, so that too will be fun.

Finally, this May 21-22 marks the return of the Walpole Island First Nation, Bkejwanong Territory Pow-Wow.

I would encourage local residents to take the time to attend. For many years I saw pictures in the Sarnia paper and elsewhere of this outstandingly rich cultural celebration and I did not attend because I felt I would be intruding.

I mean, I’m so white it is actually my name! When a student of mine invited me and assured me I was welcome, I took her at her word and I was thrilled to be there.

It was a glorious celebration and the pride in the event as well as the wonderfully vibrant attire was a feast for the eyes and ears… and then there is the food!

I will be writing more about this event in coming columns, but I encourage everyone to take the time to broaden your horizons and attend.

- Advertisment -