I have always considered a theatre to be a sacred space. There is something especially awe-inspiring in the hush and stillness of an empty performance hall. I have a ritual of sorts at Showplace: after a performance, when the lights have dimmed and the audience has filed out, I often stand on the apron of the stage in the cathedral-like expanse, taking in the majesty of a place that has been host to an endless parade of performance magic.
From Canadian music legends such as Bruce Cockburn, Serena Ryder, The Tragically Hip, Blue Rodeo, Murray McLauchlan, Measha Brueggergosman, Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy (to name a very few in recent years), to outstanding local productions like this past season’s Les Misérables by the St. James Players, and a stunning sold-out run of the musical Cats by the Peterborough Theatre Guild, our stage has been the site of many memorable and bitter-sweetly ephemeral performances. I find the echoes of such talent to be particularly humbling when a show has lulled to repose.
This hallowed quietude has been the scene at Showplace Performance Centre since the end of June. Many may be unaware that Showplace closes its doors every year for the summer months, which allows our hardworking staff a much-needed opportunity to recharge and prepare for the coming season.
While July and August represent a time of relative calm for the Showplace team, there are always stirrings of activity from our dedicated personnel as we rev up for our nineteenth year of performance excellence.
The following is a dramatis personae of sorts, a behind-the-scenes look at some of the cast of Showplace characters who shift our theatre from a still and nostalgic place to a production and road house of astonishing creative output:
A tireless worker; the calm, kind, collected and forever competent Lighting Director of Showplace. From changing and re-hanging (thousands and thousands of) lights to constructing complete staging, lighting and sound requirements for an Elite Blues concert in the Nexicom Studio from scratch in July, Rael always keeps the theatre humming and ready for action.
The multi-talented, endlessly efficient and semi-retired former Box Office Manager of Showplace for 17 years. Arlene is consistently at the ready to answer current staff members’ endless questions, and to manage our membership base.
Kait DueckThe always-in-motion House Manager and coordinator of the 140 remarkable volunteers that keep our non-profit community theatre thriving. I keep my toes happily in Showplace waters by constructing calendars of events and volunteer information reels for the coming season, assessing and ordering stock for our successful concessions stations, communicating with clients regarding front of house requirements, and getting our audience services areas prepped for a busy and exciting fall/winter 2015 season.
The queen of customer service, Showplace’s effervescent Box Office Manager. Theresa keeps busy during the off-season processing a slew of internet ticket orders (tickets are always available through www.showplace.org), managing on-sale dates and specifics with promoters, and setting things in order for the buzz of activity which is sure to commence when the Box Office officially re-opens on August 24th at 11 a.m.
The caring, charismatic and connected Social Media Manager of Showplace. Ray is active all summer keeping our website, Facebook and Twitter accounts humming, relevant and up-to-date. He’s also engaged in producing many promotional materials for the theatre, such as our member newsletter, event posters, graphic images and logos for coming events.
The passionate and compassionate, skillful, yet down-to-earth man who sits at the helm of Showplace as General Manager. Ray keeps the pulse of Showplace steady over the summer months, and may often be found doing so from his “second office” at the Silver Bean Café. He discusses future rentals with clients, finalizes contracts, meets with with his team to discuss upcoming projects and deadlines, and manages our considerable facilities. The latter ranges from small items such as overseeing the organization of storage areas and archives to massive projects such as the complete rebuild of our main stage (a generous donation of all parts and labour from Whelan’s Floor Covering Ltd. commencing on August 24th).
Our forever ethical, proficient and smiling Marketing and Administrative Manager. Em is rarely still during the warm months, ever engaged in brainstorming creative marketing tactics, sending out the e-newsletters, ensuring the community gets advance notice of ticket on-sale dates, discussing plans with promoters, and starting to structure the biggest conference of theatre managers in the province, Ontario Contact, which Showplace is proud to be hosting in the fall of 2016.
An accomplished master of many trades, one always knows that our Technical Director is in the building by the peals of good-natured, resounding laughter which echo through the hall. John regularly plans for technical riders and requirements for our 2015-2016 season over the summer, and will soon begin a flurry of maintenance activity along with his wife, dedicated Stage Technician Peggy Milton, ensuring that the complex machinery which supports live performance at Showplace is in top working order.
Our practical, capable and seriously smart Box Office Staff member. As one of only two employees of the Showplace Box Office (the rest are, amazingly, volunteers), Jenn has a heavy load of work ahead of her when we re-open for in-person ticket sales on August 24th. This is to say nothing of the furtive shifting of gears she faces moving from her summer role as expert arborist!
The legendary thespian Maggie Smith has cunningly observed: “I like the ephemeral thing about theatre; every performance is like a ghost — it’s there and then it’s gone.”
This is the very crux of live performance — each one is an immediate, visceral, solitary experience which can only truly be held in the heart, blood, and bone memories of the performers and audiences who are a part of a one-time phenomenon.
Rarely seen in this process is the skilled work of those who, behind the scenes, set the stage for the magic to unfold. I also believe that performance halls hold almost sacred reverberations, ghostly traces of the ultimate pursuit of expression and exploration of the human condition: performative art.
Until September 11th, when we welcome Kawartha audiences back to Showplace with what promises to be an electric performance by the multi-faceted Dewey Via in the Nexicom Studio, I’ll continue to relish the unearthly calm of our beautiful theatre, and breathe in the presence of performances past, yet forever indelible upon our hearts.