The last two months were extremely very busy for theatre in Kelowna and throughout the Okanagan. At first blush you would say it was due to the huge impact The O-Zone Festival has on theatre in the region with five companies in the area participating; Shuswap Theatre (Pack Of Lies), Powerhouse Theatre (The Diviners), Theatre Kelowna (Having Hope at Home), Fred Skeleton Theatre (Our Country’s Good) and The Hub Arts Collective (Doubt), culminating in a much anticipated awards ceremony where Fred Skeleton for the third year in a row won the big prize, but others were also recipients of large honors. But upon further inspection there are full productions under way at exactly the same time by Many Hats Theatre. (Nana’s Naughty Knickers), Kelowna Actor’s Studio (August Osage County) and the Big Apple Theatre from Vernon is about to open their production of Fiddler on The Roof in Vernon while Asparagus Theatre opens Fertile Ground. Lastly, the theatre company that I run offered a new production called Judith Ruins Everything at the beautiful, large Creekside Theatre in Lake Country.
“There is so much theatre.”
This quote was something I may have heard about 20 different times by different people in the theatre community throughout this period. For some it was a thrilling notion; for others it expressed the sentiment that there are only so many hours in the day; they like theatre but not that much, so they have picked the shows they are seeing and yours won’t be one of them. For me, I always think you can never have too many productions going on. A rich cultural community is one that offers a variety of experiences continuously, much the same way teams play throughout the season. No one told the Rockets to stop their drive for The Memorial Cup because it is warm outside and people have other things to do. People were excited and continued to attend games because the more they played the more thrilling it became to watch.
“Your timing sucks.”
A Vernon arts reporter I talked to about doing a story on our playwright said this to me about the fact that we were doing our play in Lake Country at the same time as The O-Zone Festival in Vernon. When I mentioned that it was a good thing that there were so many theatre experiences happening she said, “it was exhausting and I was a fool for doing something at the same time as the others.”
In fairness I do want to say that it was not my plan to offer Judith Ruins Everything at the same time as The O-Zone Festival. Unfortunately because everyone is so busy in the theatre and, particularly the dance world in the spring, theatre space is at a premium and it was the only space available that fit our budget and our set. It was the same case last year when we offered Five Women Wearing The Same Dress.
Did people come to our new play by a new author? Yes. Did they enjoy it? Yes. Could we have had larger audiences and numbers if we were the only game in town that weekend? Perhaps. We did do exceedingly better in our box office the year prior with our Bridesmaids theme offering in the smaller Black Box venue and this year Judith Ruins Everything seemed like such an exceedingly large play in a big theatre for audiences that were too small. We were disappointed in our numbers but never the play. New plays are best in small theatres where they can develop an intimacy with a small appreciative audience who come to see them.
So what did I learn from this year’s spring bounty of play offerings? That we live in an exciting place that gets more interesting as everyone is challenged and inspired to work on their next production, and to make sure the next time I call that unnamed reporter to make sure that our event is the only one on the calendar - otherwise I can forget about it. Will people stop doing plays because there are other ones offered at the same time? Apparently not because those last two weeks of July are pretty action packed in Kelowna with KAS’ Catch Me If You Can, The Raft of The Medusa, Shakespeare Kelowna’s The Complete Wrks and our production The Graduate. Looks like we will never learn. Or perhaps we all like it this way?
Go see a play!
For more about New Vintage Theatre’s upcoming offerings see our new website at www.newvintage.ca
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.