Curtain Closes on Community Run Summer Theatre

Playhouse-front-200x300(Source: Bancroft Summer Theatre ) After 24 years of building a live theatre program at the Village Playhouse, Bancroft Summer Theatre regrets to inform its patrons and sponsors that a community based summer theatre season will not be offered this season at the Village Playhouse.

While new management at the venue has made great strides in restoring the building, it has come at a price that is no longer affordable to community theatre groups and its members. “Celebrating our 25th anniversary in the dark is a stark reminder how money almost always trumps culture”, stated Daniel Boileau speaking on behalf of Bancroft Summer Theatre (BST).

Over the past 24 years, the venue was restored with original tiered seating and set up with state of the art lighting and sound equipment to improve the live theatre experience. With the help of provincials grants obtained through the Algonquin Arts Council and the founding members of Bancroft Theatre Guild and Theatrics’ Summer Theatre, the Village Playhouse became a local hub for live theatre, seating up to 190 patrons per evening for two months every summer.

The annual event provided community hours to local high school students and helped launch several careers for students who caught the theatre bug. Students were able to receive training in running a snack bar, selling tickets and running a theatre facility. Actors were encouraged to practice their craft while new tech people worked with professional lighting and sound staff to hone their skills. (It could take a pro up to 3 days to fully program the lighting board for a single production.) Local restaurants and shops benefitted with crowds of people coming into town for dinner prior to a show. Sponsors were able to reach summer cottagers easily and inexpensively. Members of St. Pauls Church raised funds by preparing pre-show dinner packages. Kids got to perform for the first time on a big stage. New talent arose from events such as The 24 Hour Theatre Project introduced by our very own November Theatre.

The Village Playhouse has served as a real community based venue which instilled a sense of cooperation, social skills and cultural growth for a current group of approximately 150 locals as well as past members who envisioned a real theatre in our little village. Kim Crawford, Chairperson of the not-for-profit Bancroft Summer Theatre and the Algonquin Arts Council, added “It is so unfortunate that progress has to be made at the expense of community. While there have been great changes and upgrades to The Village Playhouse, these improvements have come at the expense of our local theatre groups.”

Kevin Newman, President of the Bancroft Theatre Guild said “With 24 years of theatre infrastructure now inaccessible to community groups we have been forced to start from scratch”. People involved in theatre are taking this in stride and planning for the future quietly. “If 150 kids on ten hockey teams were to lose their ice time at the community arena there would be a riot in town”, added Daniel Boileau. “Theatre people take these events as a challenge because as we all know, everything changes”. Watch for a newly
re-invented, re-invigorated theatre scene to appear in the near future. To our 2,500 plus summer theatre patrons and many sponsors we offer our thanks for your past and continued support.

Wilson Timber Mart reveals new bathroom at Village Playhouse

009After taking over the lease of the Village Playhouse in the spring, the team from Hospice North Hastings started making a list of big and small repairs that were needed in the historic theatre. With a quick refresh done for the kitchen, Hospice Coordinator Heather Brough decided that the three tired-looking unisex bathrooms in the theatre also needed some love.

That’s when Kim and Nicole Trolley from Wilson Timber Mart offered their assistance.

Nicole Trolley is studying business administration and marketing at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. Home for the summer and working at Wilson Timber Mart, Nicole loves interior design and she’s pretty committed to Hospice where she has spent time over the past three years working on the huge Hospice Gala. And in the midst of Gala craziness, Heather Brough says there is no better assistant than Nicole.


So it just made sense for Nicole, with the help of her mom, Kim, to take on the bathroom project. Heather gave a few guidelines to start with. The colour had to be bright and the theme had to have an art deco feel. With these suggestions, Nicole hit Pinterest and started looking through catalogues at Wilson Timber Mart.

The space is small so Nicole had a challenge when it came to deciding on what to do with the fixtures and fittings. She and her mom had been looking at suppliers’ websites and when they compared what they had found they had the same vanity at the top of each of their lists.

Nicole describes the vanity as compact but really rich in its look. The piece acts as an anchor and provides a nice contrast to the brightly painted walls. Getting creative, Nicole also created a whimsical sign that asks guests to remain seated during the performance.

Completed in time for the recent Jane Bunnett jazz concert, music lovers were delighted with the new bathroom because it looked great but also because it’s one more sign that things are coming back to life in the beautiful theatre.

“We are so thrilled with this bathroom,” said Hospice Coordinator, Heather Brough. “Nicole, Kim and Wilson Timber Mart have been so supportive in this new endeavour and they’re really making sure that this theatre remains as a vibrant part of the community.”

Nicole says she had a great time working on the bathroom. She estimates the refresh cost under $1,000 and she is really happy with the results.

“I love interior design and I really love doing things in the community,” Nicole explained. “We really wanted to help with this project and to do this for Hospice and for the Village Playhouse.”

The other two bathrooms in the Playhouse will be refreshed by other supporters in the community in the months ahead and Nicole Trolley is ready for some competition.

“I’m excited to see what the other bathrooms will look like and I’m sure our creation will stand-up against any competition.”

For additional details:

Barbara Shaw


Curtain rises on new Playhouse partnership

Playhouse-front-200x300After weeks of meetings, discussion and speculation, the Board of St. Paul’s United Church has made a decision to partner with Hospice North Hastings to operate the Village Playhouse. The church commends the Playhouse Operating Committee on their past eighteen years of management.

The Playhouse, owned by the United Church, has worked over the years with the Algonquin Arts Council (AAC) and the Playhouse Operating Committee (POC) to keep the historic building open but with the AAC decision to give up the long-term lease, new possibilities emerged.

“We love using the Village Playhouse for our monthly North of 7 Film Fest Movies and whenever we’re in the building it’s easy to start thinking about more uses, programming and exciting events,” explains Hospice coordinator, Heather Brough.

In addition to their regular Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) screenings, Hospice has run a one-day Doc Fest, featuring four renowned films and for Hockey Day in Canada, programming included a family film as well as featuring the Canadian film, “Goon.” Read more

Roosman mural installed in Bancroft

Bancroft, Arne Roosman
Photo Credit by Barbara Shaw

Burke Chamberlin says that he always imagined the wall of his Bridge Street building as an artist’s canvas and almost a year after Chamberlin approached local painter Arne Roosman in the grocery store with the idea, both men watched as it was mounted on the side of Chamberlin’s downtown building for everyone to enjoy.

“I didn’t want to be so direct so, when I saw Arne in the Foodland I asked if he knew anyone that might be able to do a mural,” Chamberlin says as he and Roosman watch the panels being attached to the building.

Roosman, as it turned out, knew the perfect artist for the job.

Roosman’s mural is delightfully huge and it chronicles the history of its location on Bridge Street.

“This is history as seen from this building, from this location,” Chamberlin explains. “This is the history of the York River. This is the history of this corner.”

Roosman and Chamberlin started working on the concept together and Roosman still has the paper with the first notes scrawled on it. It’s part of a show that is being opened to the public on June 26 from 10am to 8pm at 23E Bridge Street West. The show will include early sketches and all of the historical research that Roosman completed for the piece.

Arne Roosman Bancroft
Photo Credit by Barbara Shaw

“The sequence of this is all in a plastic bag,” Roosman says as he points to a stack of papers that are bulging out of their packaging. “All this happens as you go and it doesn’t seem so elaborate.”

But it is an elaborate process. It took six months of work which at times was physically painful. Roosman worked on the massive panels by climbing up and down on scaffolding. When he worked from the top down his shoulders hurt and when he worked from the ground up his knees took a beating.

He jokes with Chamberlin about the toll it took and when asked if it took five years off his life Roosman says it probably added years,

Chamberlin and Roosman are joined by Dianne Eastman. She’s helping put together the pop-up show for June 26 and she’s been trying to get a group of artists and art supporters together to form a cooperative that will operate out of Chamberlin’s building. They’re working under the name “A Place for the Arts” and they’ve had some meetings, elected a steering committee and they’re now working on a structure to operate and pay for the space.

This is something that Chamberlin and Eastman have been working on together. Chamberlin sees the building as a good space for artists while Eastman says this is the best space in Bancroft for the arts. There is gallery space at street level with creative space upstairs.

“The bigger picture here is to have an arts centre for the community,” Chamberlin says.

Eastman hopes it will happen and says that those who have already shown an interest are looking to teach workshops, offer demos and to run a gallery. The building has so much potential and now with the huge new mural on the side and a beautiful boardwalk that winds people along the river – the space is inspiring.

Chamberlin says he wants to see a café operating with seating along the river and lots of artists working together to make this a space bursting with creativity.

The mural, commissioned by Chamberlin, is just one piece of a bigger vision and  Roosman says it is a great credit to Chamberlin.

Aren Roosman
Photo Credit by Barbara Shaw

Chamberlin laughs saying that he wanted the building to be an arts centre so he figured he had to put-up or shut-up.

“I’m trying to lead by example,” Chamberlin says.

The example is a great new piece of public art that looks equally stunning from across the river or from the boardwalk in front of the mural. The detail is magnificent and this is certainly a piece of art that will draw attention for years to come.

The Bridge Street Mural is now installed and for those interested in seeing the process, the conceptual sketches, working drawings and small scale paintings; these will be on display on June 26 from 10am to 8pm.


For additional details:

Barbara Shaw