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Big News – we can go to the theatre – soon!

June 17, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Theatre Orangeville’s Artistic Director, David Nairn, is a happy man: “We’re super pumped,” he told the Citizen, “to be back in the theatre for rehearsals to do Eddie Mann.”

The Third Life of Eddie Mann is the second of three proposed shows, filmed, yet still feeling like theatre and released as a limited, ticketed production. Covid restrictions shut down rehearsals, in spite of the very extensive precautions and adherence to protocol installed by the theatre staff. The government rulings delayed the opening of The Third Life of Eddie Mann, by John Spurway, for several weeks, during which The Rules of Playing Risk was extended to cover the gap and give people a chance to see that very fine play. It closed last Sunday.

So, it is exciting for Mr. Nairn and his team to once more be in the rehearsal hall, with plexiglass partitions and masked faces, gallons of sanitizer everywhere, to bring Stephen Sparks, David Rosser and Jeff Wetsch, together again for performing this funny and thoughtful play. The Third Life of Eddie Mann opens as a ticketed online event on July 30 and runs until August 15.

To mention briefly, Sunshine Sketches – the musical, has been cancelled for now. This is primarily for the sake of scheduling and the fact that singing could cause worry from the point of view of personal protection. 

However, the big news is: in-person theatre is once again coming to town! Still as outdoor theatre, with plenty of precautionary conditions, this is possible now, while restrictions are being gingerly lifted and places are opening again: from patio to indoors.

“August 11,” Mr. Nairn nearly sang it, “the first live in-person theatre experience in 17 months!”
There are two new plays – Chase the Ace by Mark Crawford, who also stars in the one-man play and Josiah Henson written by Charles Robertson and performed by Cassel Miles.

David Nairn told the Citizen, “Mark Crawford has a wonderful, new one, this is very funny. He comes from a small town, so, he knows the feeling. This one is around political intrigue, about mishandling funds and a crooked lottery.”

Theatre Orangeville outlined it. When big city radio host Charlie King is forced to take a job managing a small town station, he has more problems than he would have thought possible. A pandemic begins in his first week in Port Belette and a story of municipal corruption competes for the headline.

“The show still needs to be outdoors at this time,” David Nairn explained. “Everything is all dictated to us by our public health people; that’s completely out of our hands.

“Tickets go on sale on July 5. We could be allowed to have 25 people or more. Could be a 100. We don’t know our venue for sure yet but we’ll sort that out. Hopefully, by July 5, we’ll know between now and then how many people will be allowed to attend at one time. We’ll hope and pray that those numbers will be larger.”

Chasing the Ace opens on August 11 and runs until August 22.

In any event, Theatre Orangeville crew will film videos of both plays for the people that cannot make it to the live show; also, for patrons who are becoming more and more accustomed to seeing things online.

Continuing to tell us about the second play, Mr. Nairn said, “Josiah Henson- he was a fugitive from slavery, who escaped and settled in Canada. He established a Christian based community near Dresden. He founded a community there.

“That’s where the origin of Uncle Tom’s cabin was,” he informed us. “At the time, it was not meant as it was later taken, it was not a subservient. Josiah was very much a leader.”

A collaboration between actor, Cassel Miles, and writer/director, Charles Robertson, who used excerpts from Josiah Henson’s autobiography and vernacular from the time to create “a realistic, yet poetic dialogue. In addition to Josiah, there are thirty other characters in the play all played by Cassel Miles.”

Josiah Henson is running from September 8 to September 19.

Discussing for a moment the new influences on future programming, David Nairn commented, “We are wanting to bring more diverse programming. We want to give our patrons as much diversity as possible,” adding, “The great thing is that people could come and see them because they are great stories. We are hard wired to sitting around the camp fire telling each other stories – since our cave days – funny or profound, as these two are.

“Both of these plays will be a video capture, live and in situ, so, what people see at the time will be the live performance videoed without the possibility of re-shooting.”

Just as he has done for over 20 years, Mr. Nairn will “On the opening night of Chase the Ace, we will be announcing Theatre Orangeville’s new season of 2021 to 2022.”

For this time, everything will be cleaned. The protocols will be adhered to and there are still questions about the actual venue but he assured us, “We will have that nailed down.”

He said, “I’m just really thrilled; we’ve had calls already – people are really chuffed about being able to come back, whether the numbers of people are large or small.”

People will be socially separated; groups separated from others and there may be a personal preference about masks. Theatre staff will do everything to keep the audience, cast and crew safe.

Perhaps, most importantly to a person who loves the theatre is to think how wonderful will it be to just sit and watch a live performance. Mr. Nairn admits that he has been so spoiled to sit in the theatre to watch all these performances live during rehearsals of all the shows Theatre Orangeville has put together since September, 2021; to think of how wonderful it will be for us to sit and watch performances again.

With the changing winds of the pandemic government policies, “Things change every day – you think you’ve got a plan and it has to be changed,” was his remark. “But our Theatre Orangeville team – we can turn on a nickel – not on a dime…” 

For information and to purchase tickets, for The Third Life of Eddie Mann now and Chase the Ace and Josiah Henson only available from July 5, go to or call them at 519-942-3423.

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