Newsletter January 2016

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 Adjudications Schedule

The adjudications for Festival 2016 are now well under way.

Since the previous newsletter, one adjudication has been added to the schedule. The Aylmer Community Theatre production of Heroes is to be adjudicated on Sunday January 31 at 2:00 pm. 

To view the most recent adjudications schedule click here.
Woodstock Welcomes YOU to Festival 2016

By Bonnie Hartley, Co-chair Festival 2016
In downtown Woodstock, there are several delightful restaurants within walking distance of the Theatre including:
  • The Banana Leaf (Thai)
  • Crabby Joe's
  • Charles Dickens Pub
  • Tandoori Knight (Indian)
  • The Olympic
  • Osaka Sushi (Japanese) 
  • A Taste of China
  • Union Burger 
  • and for fine dining there is the very special Six Thirty Nine restaurant

Our Opening Night Reception (by invitation) will be held right across the street from the theatre in the atrium of the Oxford County Building from 6:00 - 7:30 pm. May we suggest you make reservations for one of these close-by restaurants beforehand?
Our downtown busine ss association will be providing a 'passport' with deals or discounts  at many downtown locations.  These will be available in the Hospitality Suite.

Staying at the Festival Hotel is always a blast, and once again this year it is The Quality Hotel and Suites. There are plenty of restaurants located near the hotel as well:
  • Kelsey's
  • Montana's
  • Swiss Chalet
  • East Side Mario's
  • Boston Pizza
  • Dean Michael's Griddlehouse 
  • and of course within the hotel, meet all your friends at Ody's Restaurant Lounge and Patio

The Hospitality Suite will be open from 11 am - 4 pm each day, to welcome you and give you information about Woodstock.

The Gala Ticket Price is $55.00. Room rates at the Quality Hotel & Suites are $106 and that includes a wonderful breakfast buffet plus access to the Goodlife Fitness Centre right inside the building.

For more information on the Quality Hotel & Suites click here.
Theatre Woodstock & the WODL Festival Through the Years

By Bonnie Hartley, Co-chair Festival 2016
We chose to host WODL Festival in 2016 as it is the 70th anniversary of Theatre Woodstock; our 20th year in the historic Market Centre Theatre; and the 20th anniversary of CAST, our wonderful youth theatre program. Lots to celebrate!
Our history with the Festival goes back a long way. Here are some highlights.   
According to the WODL website, http://www.wodl.on.ca/1947.html, the first festival was held in Hamilton in 1947. Woodstock Little Theatre first participated in a WODL Festival in 1950 with a production of Dear Brutus.
In 1969 the WLT production of Tango won at WODL and went on to compete in the Dominion Drama festival in Kelowna BC. The cast and crew flew out and had to buy the materials to build the set. People involved with that show still talk about it!

In 1974 we won the best production award for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and remounted it at the Theatre Ontario Festival in Oshawa.

In 1979 we entered Miracle Worker and won at WODL and took it to the Theatre Ontario Festival in Oakville.

In 1980 we hosted our first festival. We were operating out of the Hunter Street facility which had a small upstairs room that only held 120 seats. So, we arranged to hold it at a local high school, Woodstock Collegiate Institute, that has a seating capacity of almost 900. At that time, since many groups did not have large facilities, festivals were often held in school auditoriums which is why Festival still happens during March Break. The winner that year was the Elora Poverty Theatre production of Hurray for Johnny Canuk.

Between 1985 and 2005 Theatre Woodstock was very active in Festival--entering shows 13 times in that 20 year period, and winning several times:
1985 - Gwendoline won both WODL and Theatre Ontario.

1992 - Saltwater Moon won both WODL and Theatre Ontario.

1994 - Mass Appeal won WODL.

1996 - We moved into the Market Centre Theatre in time for our 50th Anniversary, and CAST began.  We changed our name to Theatre Woodstock as a corporate name for both WLT and CAST.

1999 - A banner year, as we not only hosted Festival but our production of Orphans won both WODL and Theatre Ontario.

2004 - We hosted and entered Love Letters. The Thistle Theatre, Embro, production of Fiddler on the Roof  took the prize and they hauled it all the way to Sault Ste Marie.

2009 - We hosted, and Night Sky from Theatre Sarnia won Festival and went on to Theatre Ontario in Ottawa.

2016 - We are looking forward to another fabulous week of Theatre and having Woodstock-born Ron Cameron here to adjudicate.  Ron was WODL Festival adjudicator for the first time in Burlington in 1985, and he now looks forward to retirement.
Ron Cameron-Lewis, 2016 WODL Festival Adjudicator

Ron began exploring the world of theatre in his pre-teen years when he saw an ad in the Woodstock Sentinel-Review one evening in the 1950's. Woodstock Little Theatre (now Theatre Woodstock) was looking for children to be extra in an upcoming production. He remembers asking his father if he could audition, and his Dad said, "They rehearse just around the corner so I don't suppose you can get into too much trouble. Sure, go audition if you like."

That changed Ron's life. He felt at home the moment he walked into WLT's home, and it's safe to say it changed his life. He has been part of community theatre, educational theatre, and summer stock theatre ever since.

Some 60 years later, Ron is an accomplished teacher, adjudicator, dramaturge and workshop leader. During his career, he has directed over 100 plays and musicals. Ron taught acting and  directed shows for 37 years at  Sheridan Institute for the Music Theatre Performance program and Sheridan's joint program with UTM in Theatre and Drama Studies. He is the only remaining active founding member of the Music Theatre program, in fact, and served as program coordinator during its most formative decade when the program tripled in size and evolved to comprise four outstanding theatre programs.

Sheridan appointed him Professor Emeritus following his retirement in December 2009. He continues to write curriculum, teach part-time for Music Theatre and TDS, and is currently working as text coach and assistant director on Pericles and Comedy of Errors for Theatre Erindale, UTM.

Most recently, Ron directed a production of Season's Greetings for the Curtain Club in Richmond Hill which ran for three weeks last November and December. At the same time, he worked as Production Consultant on Mary Rose which was produced by The Oakville Players. He really enjoyed working on a farce and a melodrama at the same time, because he was concurrently teaching a Styles course at Sheridan College in Restoration theatre, melodrama and farce.

Ron has directed for educational, community and regional theatres, such as Huron Country Playhouse, the Lighthouse Festival Theatre, and the Arts and Culture Centre in St. John's. He conducted Master Classes and coached acting at the Charlottetown Festival for two seasons. Ron was text coach for the 2009 Gemini-award winning production of Othello for CBC TV and radio, and has coached emerging photojournalists, network executives and corporate leaders. His textbook Acting Skills for Life is in its third printing with The Dundurn Group.

From 2010 to 2014, Ron was appointed International Associate Faculty at the Institute of Palliative Medicine at San Diego Hospice. He served as communication consultant for the Leadership Development Initiative, teaching presentation and media skills to palliative care physicians from 22 countries at conferences in San Diego CA, Columbus OH, and via Skype. This four-year project was funded by the National Cancer Institute, Open Society Institutes, and the Diana, Princess of Wales Trust Fund.

He has adjudicated well over 2,000 productions throughout Ontario, and the USA: at state, regional, national and international levels. In recent years, he taught five adjudicator training workshops for Theatre Ontario and the American Association of Community Theatres, training 50 new theatre adjudicators. In 2013, he was elected to the national Board of Directors of AACT for a three-year term, and is about to begin a second three-year term.

Following a BA at Western, Ron trained in theatre at the Banff Centre in Alberta, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in UK, and the University of London. He received a 2009 Award from NISOD in Austin, Texas, the President's Award of Excellence at Sheridan, a Star in Sheridan's Walk of Fame in 2011, and the 2004 Maggie Bassett Award from Theatre Ontario for sustained commitment to the development of theatre throughout the province.

Note: Ron's book Acting Skills for Life is available from Dundurn Press, www.dundurn.com/books/Acting-Skills-Life. Ron will have some copies for sale at Festival. The cost is $30 including HST.
Festival 2016: Outline of the Directing Workshop to be facilitated by Ron Cameron-Lewis

Ten exercises for directors to use to help actors grow and thrive in rehearsal

1.      The role of memorized monologues

2.      Impulse exercises for call-back auditions

Rehearsal -  Ensemble

3.      Style: exercises in linear acting and circular movement

4.      Quick exercises for large-cast productions

5.      60-30-10 and the 'dark room' exercise

Rehearsal - Physical

6.      Physicalizing characters through centres

7.      Focus: the audience eye; the actor's point of concentration

Rehearsal - Vocal

8.      Optimum pitch, articulation, inflection and rhythm

9.      Emotional texturing:  discovering range and opposites

10.    Playing with overlapping dialogue; developing pace and rhythm

Festival 2016: Outline of the Acting Workshop to be facilitated by Ron Cameron-Lewis

Ten points for actors to remember for auditions, rehearsal and performance  
Audition Advice

1.      Preparing memorized monologues

2.      Advice for call-back auditions

Rehearsal Advice

3.      Getting to neutral; building character energy and physicality

4.      Creating backstory

5.      Developing listening skills

6.      Remaining present at rehearsals

7.      Advice for memorizing lines

8.      Emotional texturing:  discovering range and opposites

9.      Advice from the Dames: Sybil Thorndike, Edith Evans

10.   Trigger words in developing pace and rhythm

The History of Minifest 1986 to 2015

Bev Dietrich, Minifest Chair, minifest@wodl.on.ca
The very first Minifest was held the weekend of July 11 & 12, 1986 and was hosted by Burlington Little Theatre. It was a concept that had been discussed for a number of years late in the evening in the party room at the WODL festival during March Break. Finally, Trevor Bonanno and his committee organized the first Minifest which was called "Summerfest". The idea of Summerfest was a festival concept with theatre groups bringing the same one act play to be adjudicated just like the WODL festival but on a smaller scale.

Trevor Bonanno, Festival Chairperson writes in the very first program, "The purpose of this festival is not only to entertain and learn, but to have fun. It is my hope that this festival will help to bring together all of the members and their groups so that more constructive dialogue can be established. There is a wealth of knowledge out there: Let's tap into it and use it."

The very first play chosen was Heroes, written by Ken Mitchell, and there were two adjudicators, Ron Cameron and Paul Lambert who graciously donated their time and experience to share with all the groups. The first participating groups were: Kitchener Waterloo Little Theatre, Owen Sound Little Theatre and Guelph Little Theatre. 
Binbrook Rocks! Minifest 2015. Theatre Sarnia entry with Binbrook Little Theatre hosts.  Photograph, Rita Huschka.

By 1989 the WODL Board drafted guidelines and appointed a Minifest chairperson, Val Hadley, who was responsible for finding a host site, a workshop leader and a play. It was decided that six groups would be the ideal number. Two shows would be performed on Friday night and four shows on Saturday. The groups closest to the host site would perform on the Friday night. The four remaining groups would perform on Saturday. The order of the day was chosen through some fun and engaging way organized by the host group. It was also decided that the Summerfest would become a workshop environment and would no longer be a competition. It was now known as WODL Minifest Workshop and the adjudicator was now known as the Workshop Leader.

To optimize the benefits of Minifest everyone was encouraged to attend all the performances, discussion sessions and the social activities. The workshop leader would render constructive criticism about the play, and was to guide, inspire and encourage a discussion with the cast and crew. T he workshop leader was  also encouraged to restage short scenes from each production with the original actors, to illustrate such points as focus, pacing, timing and any other aspects of the play the leader fe lt would be helpful. At the end of the workshop awards were made in a humourous vein, not competitively and were known as The Minnies.

It was decided that the host group would provide the set, basic lighting, sound equipment and major furniture. The participating groups provided wardrobe, hand props, sound effects and any extra items needed for their production. The idea was to make it as easy, and as cost effective, as possible. Groups had 20 minutes to set up and 10 minutes to strike their set.

The host group would find a hotel for the groups to stay at and also provide a "meet and greet" party on Friday night, boxed lunch for all the cast and crew on the Saturday and would host an "awards banquet" on the Saturday night where The Minnies were given out by the workshop leader.
The plays selected for Minifest were actively sought by the Minifest chair, and read and evaluated by a play reading committee of four individuals who rated the plays on criteria that would make it suitable for a workshop environment. Some criteria included suitability for first time directors, crew and actors with a cast size of four to six actors, a simple set, one scene and that the play should run for between 30 and 40 minutes. The play should also offer opportunities for varied interpretations.

Original scripts by local playwrights were used as often as possible and the playwright was invited to attend Minifest and watch the interpretations of their work. The playwright would also hand out a Minnie to the group whose interpretation of their play was closest to their vision. This year at Minifest a people's choice award was introduced and was voted on by cast, crew and audience participants who saw all five plays. The play chosen for Minifest was introduced at WODL festival during March Break with a reading held mid-week.
It was felt that Minifest was a great opportunity to share and learn from each other. It was a great opportunity for new directors, actors and crew to learn the art of stagecraft in a supportive atmosphere and for more experienced members to share their knowledge and love of theatre with newcomers. It allowed for new and experienced local playwrights to see their plays performed in a workshop format.
Some workshop leaders over the past 30 years include: Ron Cameron, Paul Lambert, John P. Kelly, Mark Mooney, Sandy Mcdonald, Dennis Johnson, Lindsay Price, Al Lee, Brian VanNorman, Carolee Mason, Alan Stratten, Liz Inman, Jane Carnwath, David Philips, Rod Carley and Carey Nicholson.
Host sites over the years include Burlington, Ingersoll, Woodstock, Embro, Binbrook, Elmira, Kincardine, Alymer, London and Wallaceburg.
Since 1999, Theatre Sarnia has participated the most times at fifteen times, followed by Theatre Kent at fourteen times followed by Thistle Theatre and London Community Theatre at eight times each.
Festival Chairpersons over the years include: Val Hadley, Dee Dee Ingram and Bev Dietrich.
Five Canadian Play Recommendations for Community Theatres

By Joan MacLeod, Victoria, BC, from the Playwrights Guild of Canada
Joan is a Victoria-based writer who spent seven seasons with Tarragon Theatre in Toronto where she premiered four plays. All of her plays have been performed extensively across Canada, Britain and the U.S. She is also a poet and prose writer. Her work has been translated into eight languages. Homechild was published by Talonbooks in fall 07. Her play, Another Home Invasion, premiered at ATP in 2009.
Here are Joan's recommendations:

Available for Professional Rights and Amateur Rights through Catalyst TCM agency. Agent: Catherine Knight  catherine@catalysttcm.com
Available for Professional Rights and Amateur Rights through the playwright,  kevilor@gmail.com 
3. Kristen Thomson - I, Claudia
Available for Professional Rights and Amateur Rights through Lefeaver Talent Management. Agent: Nancy Lefeaver  Nancy@lefeavertalent.ca
Available for Professional Rights and Amateur Rights through Kensington Literary Representation. Agent: Michael Petrasek  kensingtonlit@rogers.com
Available for Professional Rights only through Gary Goddard Agency  pam@garygoddardagency.com
In coming up with this list I thought about where I live - this big, wet and beautiful province on the west coast -- with its mill towns, little islands and big expensive cities.  I could imagine Bone Cage playing in Nanaimo, the redemptive Where the Blood Mixes in little coastal communities or in the heart of Vancouver.

And then I realized everything on this list could go urban or rural, big or small, could stay home in B.C. or hit the road and play right across the country. The Piper with its cast of 32, I promise, will blow the roof off any community theatre.  Seven Stories has played the world already, but it feels as current and funny as the first night I saw it at the Arts Club on Seymour, way back when.  And finally I, Claudia; if you're wondering why a one person show makes this list, it's because I can imagine a young woman in Prince George, or Regina, or Sackville, sitting in the audience or on stage, transformed by a beautiful piece of writing.
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

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