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Theatre Orangeville’s very special ‘Hybrids’ coming soon

March 25, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

The succession and successes of Theatre Orangeville Online has finally arrived to a much-demanded series of new plays, coming up this spring and beginning with the Rules of Playing Risk by Kristen Da Silva, opening April 15.

“Our patrons were overwhelming in their appeal for plays, for stories, which we love to produce,” Artistic Director, David Nairn told the Citizen. “We did our filming over last weekend – it was so terrific to be in the theatre again. There were moments when you became overwhelmed: doing a play, with a real set and so forth. It was a remarkable time. I feel very blessed.”

He said, “Audiences have been really clear they’ve enjoyed the programming that we’ve done so far but what they really wanted from us – it blew the poll out of the water – to see plays and see original plays. What I’m perceiving is they don’t get mindless entertainment at Theatre Orangeville. They don’t mind having their buttons pushed a bit and that’s why we offered access to how the plays are put together [with Laneway Café].”

This approach of combining “theatre” and “film” is new and being innovated by Theatre Orangeville. Mr. Nairn explained that Stratford Festival Theatre has opened up their archives for patrons to see formerly recorded plays but Theatre Orangeville’s production team is creating new plays from the ground up. So, these original pieces are ready for the “virtual stage.”

“Beckie [Morris, production manager] designed a gorgeous set,” said he, talking about filming the play, following a couple of weeks of rehearsal. “The play takes place entirely in the sun room of a cottage. And there we were in the theatre, with Paula [Stewart] as Stage Manager, calling out notes from the script; Dan [Palmieri, assistant technical director] designed the lighting. We have a creative and wonderfully talented family here in Orangeville. The is fabulous. The play is 80 minutes long.”

The whole multi-month journey of putting Theatre Orangeville online as a new form of entertainment has been an amazing ride, an amazing learning curve for David Nairn personally, who told us that he has learned more about directing in a “new milieu than I have done in years.”

He added, “From a personal point of view, I’d love to direct a movie, now that we’ve come this far, as an expansion to my own abilities.”

Not only to hold Theatre Orangeville close to the hearts of its very loyal audience, but, also, “keeping the company vibrant, keeping our creative team, that [really] matters.”

He began a discussion about the differences between what Theatre Orangeville is doing and making a movie: “This is in a visual media; it doesn’t involve cut away shots or locations. There is much more reliance on the writing. A film script relies on the visual and you can make huge comments by underscoring with music. That is there to provide moving or scoring. In many ways, films are not as reliant on dialogue.”

In plays, the dialogue is most important. When an audience breathes together, that is a profound moment. If The Rules of Playing Risk were a movie, the script would be very different, in order to keep it alive and moving forward. 

Mr. Nairn proposed: “This [production] is a unique piece of art; we’re creating a hybrid and taking the best of both worlds, with a different sensibility, creating that thing with something in between the movie and the live play,” commenting, “I believe our audiences will be entertained because we tell really good stories at Theatre Orangeville, done in a unique and innovative way.”

He paused and admitted, “I confess I’m always going to have a fondness for this show, not only because it’s a piece of good writing but because it’s the first time we [are] doing this form of entertainment.”

It has been interesting, now, in a pandemic world, how things had to change. During the two weeks of rehearsing, all the actors and crew had to see of each other were their eyes. Only for the breaks, when each person was tucked in behind the plastic sheeting that made individual bubbles, were the masks off. When they were finally able to remove the masks, it was strictly during the act of filming. Then, they could actually see each other’s faces in the play.

What else the pandemic imposed on the art was yet another task to complete. ACTRA dictates that the Tuesday before filming the play on stage, to send the cast down to a COVID-19 testing laboratory in Mississauga, at a cost, in order to have the results back in time. They had to have a test within 72 hours and the testing turned it around within 24 hours.

Mr. Nairn posed the questions the cast and crew faced with the restrictions: “How do we come together to create a work? How can we embrace the work when we can’t really embrace?

“I won’t be sorry to see the back of it – what it is and needs to be for the safety of all but we find our way. We are a theatre company that is nimble. We take whatever comes our way and we can knock it out the of the park. In theatre, we’re used to making it work.”

There are two more plays on after The Rules of Playing Risk. In May, The Third Life of Eddy Mann by John Spurway, a “heartfelt drama, a fun story to tell and very engaging,” promised David Nairn. June will bring Sunshine Sketches, a musical, a period piece circa 1920’s of a story taken from the well-loved Stephen Leacock book. The music is by Jim Betts, one of the foremost musical theatre composers in the country and, by the bye, Theatre Orangeville’s original Artistic Director. 

Each is a one act play, which, as Mr. Nairn pointed out, “We don’t do one act plays any more. This is [fascinating] to go back to that. They are all three-handers but that was not by design.

“Of all the shows I’ve done, this will hold a special place in my heart,” he finished tenderly, “because there is demanded more from us and we – my cast and my crew – and I’m so proud of them – they inspired me every day by the clarity and bravery of thought and vision. We’re having to look at things in a different way.”

They have proven they can do that and do it well.

For all the details about the upcoming plays and for tickets, go to: or call at 519-942-3423.

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