Setting the Stage

Well, we continue to get closer and closer to our season, and as we approach our first production of the year, it is almost time for one of my favorite things.  Auditions.  I am excited for numerous reasons.  A) We get to find and work with a bunch of fantastic amazing new people, as well as some of our favorite people from past seasons.  B) We get to sit in a room for two days and immerse ourselves in the considerable talent this country has to offer.  C) I love meeting new people, and I love hearing people sing. 

This year most of the casting will be for our brand new production of GODSPELL.  I can’t tell you how excited I am for this show.  I really want it to be a representation of Canada, our culture, our background and our talent, so I am really looking forward to these auditions, and meeting some amazing new artists.

The notices will go out this week, and because we will be focused on GODSPELL, I thought I would focus a little bit more on it today, and more specifically, our cool new stage.

Before last year, the Marble Church Arts Centre didn’t have a stage, per-se.  We were still using the original Altar from when the building was a church.  When we started planning ALECK BELL, we decided this wasn’t going to be sufficient.  So I, along with some help from two fantastic local carpenters, Peter and Scott Mewett, designed a new playing space, that would be usable and adaptable for all of our productions, as well as anything else that may come through the Arts Centre.  We had to work around several restrictions.  A) We had to build dressing rooms into the current space.  B) Patrons have to be able to have total access to the back room, which is located behind stage left.  C) We needed to add some overhead lighting.  We took all of these factors into account and created the fantastic stage (Marvin, as we like to call him) that currently resides in the space.

We will be using this stage forever into the future, and essentially exactly as it is laid out currently for our production of STALKYARD HURTS.  However, for GODSPELL, we want to do something different yet again.  Because of my concept for the show (Which I can’t tell you about just yet, but is very exciting) we want to really open the space back up, so that we can fill it in and use it in a different way.  The bonus of this is that the stage will now have two totally convertible set ups, one that looks almost like a little house (The ALECK BELL configuration) and one that will act much more closely to that of a typical proscenium arch (For GODSPELL).  With a LOT of added features and bonuses.  This is going to take this space to a whole new level, and the set up for GODSPELL is going to blow your minds!

I love the Marble Church for its uniqueness, and its versatility, and I can’t wait to keep enhancing it and re-inventing it into the indefinite future.  We are so lucky to have this beautiful space in Tweed, and if you haven’t been yet, check out a show this year, or look it up online, drop in for a visit, or check out some of the pics on our website, www.ianatheatre.com.

I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS SEASON!  I can’t wait to get going, work with some new people, create some new stuff, and share it with all of you!  Thanks for checking us out, and I will see you at the show!

Tim

Exploring Our Audience…IANA’s 100KM Reach

This weekend I am going on a great adventure.  Thursday morning the adventure begins.

We want to make sure that everyone in the area knows about our season this year and has the opportunity to visit us at the Marble Church.  For that reason, we are starting a 100km reach from Tweed.  Our new posters have been designed and printed, the routes all planned, and the rental car is booked.

I have to say I am incredibly excited to see many towns that I have never had the reason or opportunity to visit, and go on a little mini vacation road trip around Ontario.  I also plan on stopping in at many local theatres (Some I have coffee dates with) and seeing how we can all better promote our events and get more people in the theatre!

At the end of my trip, or possibly throughout, I will write another Blog post to tell all about my grand adventures, and what I discover on my trip.  Thursday will take me from Tweed, to Napanee, to Kingston, to Perth, to Sharbot Lake, to Tamworth and everywhere in between!

Friday will start in Actinolite, head to Kaladar, Queensborough, Bancroft, Peterborough, Hastings, Campbellford, Marmora, Madoc and again, everywhere in between.

Saturday begins in Stirling, heads to Frankford, Trenton, Carrying Place, Bloomfiled, Picton, and finally ending in Belleville, and, you guessed it, everywhere in between!

I am very excited, and can’t wait to see all these little hamlets, visit with the people there, shop at local stores, eat at unique restaurants and put up our great new posters!  I would love to hear any suggestions of favourite haunts of yours and hear about your favorite spots in Eastern Ontario.

I will be tweeting regularly during my adventure, and writing a big blog post about the trip.  And if I don’t see you this weekend then I’ll see you at the show!

Tim

Company Profile: JOEL MACMEEKIN!

Over the course of the coming year I would like to take several post opportunities to highlight members of our company who have been with us for a while, and who have contributed significantly to the development of this company.  To our vision, our mission and our mandate.  Joel MacMeekin is one of these people.

Joel was actually one of the first people to work for IANA in any way, and has actually worked for us in almost every way.  Depending on how much you know about IANA, you might know that we like to work in an ensemble style, and we like to utilize and explore the many talents of our casts and crew, and give everyone the opportunities they deserve.  Joel is the epitome of this concept.

Joel’s first interaction with IANA was at the very inception of the company.  True, there was a foray into producing before Joel’s involvement, before we were technically a company, but since we’ve had our papers, he has been on that journey with us.  Our first ever anything was a staged reading of Joel’s play ‘Missing in Action’.  Joel and I went to college together, and sometimes we would get to hear or read Joel’s written work, and I was always moved, inspired, and entertained by it.  I asked Joel to pitch me a couple of his scripts, and see if we might produce one as a staged reading.  He readily agreed, and after perusing a couple, we chose ‘Missing in Action’.  This hilarious play was a lot of fun, and a great experience with a group of eight very funny and very talented people.

The next production IANA did was ‘The Last Five Years’.  Now, although this is a two hander, we decided to include video elements to stitch the show together, and make the transitions from song to song more relatable and easier to follow.  Joel is also an incredibly skilled videographer, so I asked him if he would be willing to direct and produce these videos.  Again, he agreed to come along for the ride, and the result was overwhelming.  The videos were one of the most talked about elements of the production, and really put the professional touch on what was already a very satisfying show for us.

The next year, when we decided to produce our first ever full season in Tweed, ON, I asked Joel to come on board yet again, and in another whole new light.  This time, as a performer.  Joel is a talented actor, beautiful singer, and riotous comedian.  He played the Priest and Pomeroy in our production of ‘TWEED! A New Canadian Musical’ and reprised his role in that production again this past August.

And then came what is quite possibly Joel’s greatest contribution to the company to date.  I had decided last fall that I wanted to create an original production based on the life of Alexander Graham Bell, I had a concept all ready, and songs picked out in my brain.  However, I knew that with my time constraints for the year, and my already fairly full plate, I wouldn’t be able to pull off this project alone.  I knew Joel to be a very talented writer, and so I asked him if he would help me create the show.  Not only did Joel gladly accept the opportunity, but he brought a passion, a dedication and a talent to the task that I couldn’t have found anywhere else, and that led to the production of my proudest moment to date.  Joel wrote the book for ALECK BELL, and it is truly remarkable.  His timing, sense of character and his integrity have made this show a truly amazing thing, and something that I think will have a life and legs long after I originally planned for.  For those of you who don’t know, Joel was also the assistant director on the show.

And all of this is not even what makes Joel so great.  He does all of this, and has all of this talent, but what makes him truly stand out is his incredible personality, his love for his fellow creators, his personal passion and his absolute willingness.  Joel is ‘it’ when it comes to kind, caring and dedicated professionals, and I count myself lucky every day that I get the honour and the privilege of working with him on a regular basis.  I love this man, and I can’t wait to keep working and creating with him in future.

Watch for Joel this season as active as ever in most of our productions.  Joel is creating all of the original Audio-Visual elements for STALKYARD HURTS, and will be back this year as writer and co-director of our tour of ALECK BELL.  Joel has also designed several of the pages and elements of our website.  And who knows what else the season might have in store…stay tuned…

How we’re doing things differently…and how that involves you…

As 2011 winds down, I thought we would take a little retrospective on our season, and look at how we’ve changed, where we’re headed, and new things that we’re trying in 2012.

2011 was a massive year for us.  We produced our second full length original Canadian Musical ‘ALECK BELL: A Canadian Pop Rock Musical’ which received much critically acclaim, and is going on to tour the province next year.  As I have already said in a previous blog post, it is my proudest accomplishment to date.  Then, we took a huge leap, and brought our production of ‘TWEED: A New Canadian Musical’ to the Papermill Theatre in Toronto.  This show has meant so much to me over the last four years, and I can’t even describe how it felt to bring the show to the city.  Huge.  It felt amazing, and I loved every minute of it.

This year saw our highest attendance ever, it started the great tradition of our GALA opening nights, another great tradition that we will hopefully see in many future seasons our Dark Night Cabaret series, the addition of a stage, dressing rooms and bar to the Marble Church Arts Centre, Our first foray into the world of Toronto theatre, the most actors/creative/crew we have ever employed, and our nomination for 20 BroadwayWorld.com awards.

And now, before the year even begins, our preparation for the 2012 season has already seen another round of drastic changes and accomplishments.  We now have a huge social media presence (Check out our blog-obviously you are, our twitter, our facebook group and fan page, our YouTube channel, our wicked new website, and our presence on hundreds of tourism sites and event listings).  We have also started partnerships with the Stirling Festival Theatre, the Brockville Arts Centre, and the Sanderson Centre in Brantford, all of which will hopefully lead to lasting lifelong associations.  We are also working on our third full-scale original Canadian Musical which is so exciting.  Every time we get to work with hilarious, dedicated, incredibly talented new teams I get overwhelmingly excited.  We are also so happy and so fortunate to have Jon Deighan join us as a permanent member of our team.  This Communications wiz, and awesome guy(seriously, he’s the best), will make all the difference in our continued success.  And, we are so happy to be working closely with the municipality of Tweed this season to take things to the next level, and ensure the success of our community and our company.

And possibly even more important is our good fortune to be able to continue to work with our fabulous team, members, sponsors and friends who will be joining us again this year.  We couldn’t do what we do without the support of our patrons, and of our fabulous General Manager Emily Mewett, our incredible ensemble of actors and creators, and our amazing volunteers!  We consider ourselves so lucky that we will once again have the assistance of so many incredible people in putting together an incredible season of Canadian Theatrical Entertainment!

We have a lot of really cool new initiatives starting this year, and I’m going to fill you in on one of the things I’m most excited about.  This year we are introducing a new way of supporting IANA, and a fun new opportunity to be involved in our productions.  It’s called a Show Sponsorship, but it is so much more than that.  We wanted to find a way this season to really get our patrons in on the action, and we came up with a real cool idea, that I can’t wait to continue to build on and grow in the future.  We are the only company that I know of that does this, and I think it is the most fun!  This year, for very small amounts of money, you can sponsor a specific element of a production.  SO say you have always been fascinated with the sets of plays, and say you are so excited for our brand new Canadian Musical STALKYARD HURTS.  I know I am.  Well, for $350 you can become the set sponsor for Stalkyard.  That means that you can take sole credit for the amazing new pieces we are creating for that production, and you can tell your friends, ‘Hey, that set?  Yeah, I sponsored it.’  Or something along those lines, how you gloat is up to you.  And then, the coolest part.  IANA will find some way to incorporate your name or something about you or your personality into the element you sponsor.  For example, part of the STALKYARD HURTS set is going to be the addition of several of the bands old show posters, maybe one of those posters features you as a model?  Maybe the title of that album just happens to be your full name?  Possibilities are endless, and you literally get to see you name up in lights!  AND..yes, there’s more…every single one of our show sponsors will receive a poster signed by the cast.

There is a lot of cool and exciting stuff happening right now, much of which I can’t discuss at the moment, but that is going to take this company to the next level yet again, and bring Canadian Musical Theatre right along with it.  We hope you’ll join us this season as we continue to build, grab life by the horns, and put it on stage!  Happy holidays, have a fun and safe New Years, and..we’ll see you at the show!!!!

Tim