Gore Bay finds successes at Theatre Ontario

The cast of ‘This is how we got here’ includes, back row left, Will Smith and John Robertson, front row left, Shannon McMullan and Tara Bernatchez.

RICHMOND HILL – The little theatre company that could has once again proven that it can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best that Ontario has to offer. The Gore Bay Theatre production of ‘This Is How We Got There’ came home from this year’s Theatre Ontario Festival with the second largest award haul of the competition.

“I am really, really pleased,” said co-director Walter Maskel upon arriving home from the competition this past week. “It was especially gratifying to receive the ensemble award for storytelling, that is something that truly reflects the strength of our company as a group. It was the only ensemble award presented.”

Apparently the author, Keith Barker, who was the special guest of the Theatre Ontario competition this year pronounced himself pleased with Gore Bay production of his work, vowing to co-director Andrea Emmerton that he would come to see the play again when it takes to the Gore Bay stage in July.

For Ms. Emmerton, attending the festival hosted this year by the Curtain Club was a bit of a homecoming. “I worked with the Curtain Club for 30 years and directed shows at the Performing Arts Centre before,” she said. “It was terrific to catch up with so many people again.”

Both directors said they were very pleased with how their offering was received.

Award recipients at the Theatre Ontario Festival were largely chosen by adjudicator Carolee Mason of Perth, Ontario, a professor of theatre at Brock University. “She and her husband have done so much for theatre,” said Ms. Emmerton, noting that Perth’s Mason Theatre is named for the couple.

As to the awards, the Special Adjudicator Ensemble Award For Storytelling and Monologues went to ‘This Is How We Got Here.’ 

Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role went to Will Smith who played the role of Jim in ‘This Is How We Got Here.’ Honourable mention was given to Dylan Mills-Capote as Curtis in ‘Late Company.’ 

The Outstanding Visual Presentation award also went to ‘This Is How We Got Here’ for their innovative and simple set design, evocative of a dense Northern Ontario forest. Honourable mention went to ‘Late Company.’

A Special Adjudicator Award for Original Music went to Vern Dorge, composer and performer of the background music for ‘This Is How We Got Here.’

Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role may have gone to Sandie Cond as Aiofe in ‘Outside Mullingar’ but an honourable mention was allocated to Shannon McMullan whose outstanding performance of Liz in ‘This Is How We Got Here’ knocked it out of the park even though Ms. McMullan’s vocal chords were still suffering from the impact of a virus.

The major award of the festival, The Elsie For Outstanding Festival Production, went to ‘Outside Mullingar’ by Domino Theatre.

The four productions in the competition were ‘Late Company’ by Jordan Tannahill, presented by Bloor West Village Players (Toronto) – ACT-CO (Association of Community Theatres-Central Ontario); ‘This Is How We Got Here’ by Keith Barker, presented by Gore Bay Theatre – QUONTA (Northeastern Ontario); ‘Outside Mullingar’ by John Patrick Shanley, presented by Domino Theatre (Kingston) – EODL (Eastern Ontario Drama League) and ‘Girls Like That’ by Evan Placey, presented by Theatre Sarnia – WODL (Western Ontario Drama League).

It was telling of our times that all four productions were either about, or mentioned, suicide and the theme of bullying was a common thread for the productions. Theatre often reflects the issues of the day, and certainly those two issues have gained an ascendancy in public concerns today.

‘This Is How We Got Here’ will be taking to the Gore Bay Theatre stage later this summer, along with a number of shorter one-act plays that are still in the works. Stay tuned to these pages for more details as they become available.