Orangeville mother, daughter reading at S. Simcoe Theatre

May 26, 2016   ·   0 Comments

It is both laudable and remarkable for a community theatre to be celebrating their 50th Season. This is the case, though, for South Simcoe Theatre, located in Cookstown.

To close this year’s season, the theatre is offering its annual five day collection of play readings over an extended weekend, this year, of Thursday, June 2 through Sunday, June 5.

Two participants in this event are an Orangeville mother and daughter, who both have participated with theatre here, Teresa Duncan and her daughter, Ashley.

Ashley spoke to us from Teen Ranch, where she is employed full time as a co-ordinator of the campers who come from Toronto (and elsewhere) to Teen Ranch.

“I love it here,” Ms. Duncan told us happily. “It is a super good fit for me.”

Having said so, she went on to declare her passion for the theatre. Both she and her sister, Holly, were part of Theatre Orangeville Youth Singers (T.O.Y.S.), as well as Young Company productions. Ashley Duncan was in Oliver and, later, performed with Orangeville Music Theatre (OMT) in Annie.  She acted with Brampton Music Theatre as well.

“I love the singing and the music,” she added. “I did Pantomime in Shelburne too.”

Her theatrical education included courses in Theatre Arts at University of Toronto for a couple of years and a mentorship program in Toronto, where the emphasis is on play writing.  She realized there was not enough time for all of it once she began working full time.

Then, Ms. Duncan was contacted by South Simcoe Theatre to come and do the reading for one of the plays and she saw that, with only five rehearsals and the reading, she could easily manage the hours.

This rationale provided the answer to why she wanted to travel to Cookstown for theatre involvement when there are several community theatres closer to home.

“It is a way of getting different opportunities,” she explained, “the reading came after I originally got connected through their play submission program. As much as it’s a bit of a trek to Cookstown, it’s a lot closer than Toronto.”

What she likes so much about theatre, she said, “I like the story telling.”

Ashley Duncan is on the cast reading of Outside the Box by established playwright, Robert Newby, on the Friday evening, June 3.

Her mother, Teresa Duncan, tells us that she grew tired of just being the chauffeur to her talented daughters who were having so much fun doing theatre things that she decided to get involved herself.

“It started in Brampton, where I had a small part,” she began with her own story. “Then, I went out on my own and did OMT’s “Greatest Hits” – I can sing.”

She played in Self Help for Dummiez with Caledon Town Hall Players and said, “I love doing comedy. My biggest thing is making people laugh.”

Of the distance to drive to Cookstown, Mrs. Duncan commented, “It’s nice to get your face out there – you can get type cast. I love doing it but I just can’t dance.

If there’s a dance routine, I always say ‘stick me in the back’ but it’s no good.”

Her other daughter, Holly, is making a life in the theatre by attending the Academy of Theatre Arts and looking forward to finding work in professional theatre.

Said Mrs. Duncan, “She did more [shows] with OMT.” Mrs. Duncan was also Mama Bear in OMT’s last production of Shrek.

As in Ashley’s life, Mrs. Duncan is increasingly short of time for her theatre interests, as she has just started a business of her own in essential oils.

So, the less demanding schedule of doing a reading with South Simcoe suits her very well. She is reading with the others in Visitor, A Portrait of the Modern American Family by Quentin Stuckey, on Sunday, June 5.

Play readings are actually that: a play is read from the stage as a lightly rehearsed presentation by actors who are reading the manuscripts, not performing the plays as such.

It is an informal event, generally speaking, with the playwright in attendance to answer questions and observations by the audience at the end of the reading.

A workshopping in most cases, this is an opportunity for the playwright to hear his/her work in a theatre setting long before a production, with all that involves by way real rehearsals for performance with costume, set and light designing – the play on stage.

In many or, even most, reading presentations, there are glitches which come to light in the course of public reading much more readily than going through the thing in the privacy of one’s own den or even offering it to another professional to read.

For the audiences, the readings are tremendous fun and a sort-of privilege for the chance to perhaps offer an opinion and reflect to the author one’s thoughts on the parcel. In any event, it is a very interesting part of the play’s development and to be included of that is rather thrilling.

For all the details of the readings, June 2 to June 5. go to

Written by Constance Scrafield

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