It’s surprising how much theatre goes on in this city, and equally surprising how little people outside the theatre community seem to be aware of it. “Mainstream” venues like the Grand Theatre or the JLC do well at pulling crowds, but they account for only a fraction of the productions that are performed here. There are big events like Fringe—which is, I believe, the fourth-largest festival of its kind in Canada—and long-running independent productions, all the way down to two- and even one-night runs. Many of the performances are of original scripts written by local artists; quite a few others are works by Canadian playwrights, like Michel Tremblay and Daniel MacIvor.
I’ve come to more fully grasp the extent of local theatre in the past few years, notably after joining the Brickenden Awards adjudication committee last spring and seeing well over 70 performances in ten months. (I’m up to 24 so far this year.) But the thing that made me realize just how much goes on is a project I started recently.
Just over a month ago I took ownership of Theatre in London, a long-running website about… well, theatre. In London. (Ontario, don’tcha know.) Since then I’ve been busy refreshing its look, replacing the static HTML pages with a more dynamic back end (based on WordPress), reworking the existing content, and adding a bunch of new features including discussion groups and a podcast version of a radio show that Jeff Culbert and Simon Goodwin, the previous owners of the site, have started on CHRW.
Oh yeah, and writing original articles, doing interviews, getting in touch with various contributors and theatre companies and organizations, and arranging for some other things that aren’t quite at the point where I can say anything more about them.
It’s great to have an active “side project” that engages the right brain. I’m sure it will be less fun at some point, but right now I’m having a blast. And I hope that in some small way this will help to shift all of the great work that the local theatre community is putting on stage a little further up in the local collective consciousness.