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Theatre Orangeville’s David Nairn gives behind the scenes look at upcoming Summer Arts Festival

August 4, 2022   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

“It’s not often I am lost for words,” said David Nairn in an interview with the Citizen this week. He was speaking of Young Company’s musical theatre production due to be performed at the upcoming Summer Arts Festival at Mount Alverno Resort, August 10 to 14.

“When I saw this 45-to-50-minute show that they wrote themselves – Broadway Bound – we call all our musicals that because that’s where the kids are headed, I was gobsmacked. Mainly, they wanted to write and perform about issues that concern them. They wrote this amazing show that I would be proud to put on any stage in the world. They have created this amazing work that is hugely entertaining because it’s a story that they wanted to tell.

“First and foremost,” he declared, “theatre has to be relevant to people. It’s a direct communication from the artists to the audience. The fact that the Young Company members put it together in three weeks is astonishing and this is an original work and off the charts!” 

The idea of having a festival that re-established the partnership with Toronto Fringe and really expand on the kids show are the real genesis of it. The primary idea is to produce an arts festival of which, in Mr. Nairn’s time here, there has never been anything like it. The concept is to open for what could be a broader pallet and colourful palette for people to enjoy.

It is not like anything else, he assured us, commenting that we all want to get out to places of enjoyment and excitement and engagement. That is what this is all about. People are out of the habit of going out.

He mentioned that with TOV’s partnership with Fringe, there is no other theatre outside of the cities, regional professional theatre – no one has ever partnered with Fringe before. So, if people are interested in watching something that is a bit edgy, Fringe is part of the festival.

“This festival is a fresh and new energy,” he said. “After the two years [of Covid restrictions], we’re all looking for something fresh and it’s darn good entertainment.”

He presented the ideas behind some of the entertainment, like “when you do a 9:00 p.m. open mic session, you don’t know what you’re going to get. We don’t know the content. That’s what open mic is; people expect to see that.”

What he likes so much about this Summer Arts Festival, “what is really cool,” is that this is not just coming from Mr. Nairn himself. It has also brought forward others from the community, their desire to be included in what is involved. 

The impetus for some things came from the Youth Advisory Committee of which the members represent all the different facets of the youth programs that Theatre Orangeville runs, including T.O.Y.S. That committee said about this festival, “We’d like to see a youth open mic as part of it.” It was they who brought that idea forward.

The two plays from Fringe were chosen by a team of six people from TOV that went to Toronto to watch 60 shows and then sat down around a table and drew a consensus. The two shows that are coming Mr. Nairn himself did not see but they were so passionately promoted that they were chosen. His point about this process was, what is wanted is when someone is sitting at a table and is so passionate about what they saw.

“That’s good enough for me; you can’t fake that. From a TOV point of view, that’s been very satisfying,” he said.

The Fringe shows are only allowed [by Fringe] to be an hour long.

When planning the Summer Arts Festival, TOV reached out to artists who contacted them and wanted to be part of the festival and he averred that happens because that is the nature of “our community where there is a collective energy and spirit around the arts that makes this community so special.”

The sheer numbers of artists meant the festival is an opportunity to bring all that together so that it is a real gathering of the community into a really lovely property at Mount Alverno Resort.

While this is a community that is used to travelling short distances for entertainment, “thankfully,” we can also just walk down the street. Lots of people do not know Mount Alverno is there.

On site from August 10 to 14, the hub of the activity is in the beautiful little barn with its patio and lovely surroundings. People will be excited there is also a food and drink element to it. In the resort’s setting they can accommodate everything even if “it’s pretty choc-a-block.”

This festival is to provide, not necessarily all things to all people but it is really the unique experience: a bunch of kids creating cutting-edge performances. These are unique experiences and innovation comes from young people, not just youngsters but people in their 30’s.

David Nairn said, “My responsibility in this festival has been to encourage other members of the TOV team to create what this vision is. In this instance there are contributions from a great many others to have some real definite input to define what the festival looks like now.” 

There will be lessons to learn as that team discovers what that is as summer arts but not traditional summer theatre. Theatre Orangeville produces theatre eight months of the year but in the summer they want to create something that is unique – to give their audiences and the community something so they can stay in the area to broaden the art experience.

Finally, an important announcement Theatre Orangeville made while speaking with the Citizen: “We’re are thrilled to announce we’ve had a huge funder join our Summer Arts Festival project and as such we are excited to extend our ½ price ticket sale through to the end of the Festival. Amazing entertainment, an incredible ticket price, come and catch five days of exceptional programming. (A second announcement revealing the newly granted source of funding coming soon!)”

For those half price tickets and all the information go to or to the Tourist Information Centre on Buena Vista and Hwy 10 or at the Box Office 519-942-3423. Also located at 87 Broadway, in the Town Hall.


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