What a theatre season!

We have just recently finished our second season of cool plays and it is time to do a postmortem. Now that sounds like a pretty somber and morbid way to finish off a year but actually I find the process which looks back at the highlights and areas needed for improvement to be a really fulfilling one - particularly because it gives you a chance to reflect on all you have accomplished and yes, those things to work toward.

Theatre seasons typically run from fall to spring, but at New Vintage Theatre, the theatre company I run, we finish in the spring and start again in the summer. For me there are so many highlights of this 2014-5 season at New Vintage, but here are some of my favorites:


1.  Crazy sold out audiences for the play Five Women Wearing The Same Dress. We actually turned so many people away from this hilarious show about bridesmaids, directed by Angela Lavender, we could have held it over for another week. Unfortunately, we could not secure the space (add to "To Do" list).

2.  BC Premiere of Daniel MacIvor's BINGO. Directing this play was not just a highlight of my season, but of my career! Thanks to Kendra Hesketh, Kim Fournier, Brad Hull, Colm O'Reilly and Troy Berg for going all in to tackle a difficult script and accent and embrace the idea of returning to high school-30 years later.

3.  Terrifying audiences in the The Bone House. Directed by Matt Brown, a horror master, I was lucky to be a member of this cast which left audiences shaking, screaming and more. What an experience in experiential theatre-wow!

4.  A Christmas Carol at Creekside Theatre, starring Ray Mordan as Scrooge. Working a second time on this play with a largely returning cast might have seemed like a walk in the park, but add in the components of a new Scrooge with different sensibilities and talents, a beautiful large theatre and a cast that is like family and you have the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit.

5.  The Black Cat Cup First New Play Winner at our Black Cat Cabaret; we gave a prize to the audience's favorite new play. A strong roster was presented with outstanding scenes from Deb Nicholson and Jeff Samin, but the winner crowned was Judith Ruins Everything, featuring a great cast of Gillianne Richards, Brad Hull, Doug Brown and Kendra Hesketh. Playwright Logan Mullin graciously accepted the dubious looking cup with glee. (It was also a thrill to know audiences will see the whole play this May at Creekside Theatre).

6.  Arlene Irwin's first professional directing debut, Pith!  Most of Kelowna knows Arlene for her amazing voice and strong acting chops and many saw her great play, The Good Game that she co-directed with partner Ray Mordan. But this was Arlene's first full play that she directed on her own and what a show it was! Congratulations to her on a memorable debut of an unforgettable play.

7.  KFX! What can I say? If you were there you know what I mean. It was a tremendous experience and lived up to all of my expectations and more. Producer Joe Welton, volunteer coordinator and event planner Summer Johansen and I are already planning for next year so mark your calendars for Kelowna Fan Xpo, March 19, 2016.

8.  Soap Opera sensation, As The Sun Burns went from sold out live shows to our own TV show on SHAW cable.  I have to say life really has started to imitate art if you consider bad 1980's soaps art. Catch us on Mondays at 4:24 sharp on SHAW TV or online anytime.


Thank you to everyone who came to our plays and supported our soap opera and Kelowna Fan Expo. Without an audience we would not have had the success we did.

On my "to do" list for next year? Continue to encourage a wide variety of up and coming directors.  Watch for Angela Lavender, Brooklyn Ritchie, Ashley Plomp and others to show their talents this season and to facilitate more Okanagan original plays to the stage. A stellar crop of new plays came out of our hothouse this year from Jeremy Beaulne and Natasha Davis, and Logan Mullin has a new play too. We need to really foster stage managers, lighting and sound designers and set designers/construction teams. There is a great group of people that have done these roles for us, but our need eclipses our supply of talented designers and stage managers. Finally, sponsors.  Yes, we need to find sponsors and funding for the great plans we have for the new year, and not surprisingly I think you will find that on the "to do" list of most arts organizations in Canada.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Bonnie Gratz is an actor, director, and playwright. She is the Artistic Director of Kelowna's New Vintage Theatre, and a member of the Playwright's Guild of Canada and The Literary and Dramaturges of North America. 

For more on Bonnie, check out www.bonnie-gratz.com or check out www.newvintage.ca

Contact Bonnie at:  [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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