This Week In Art/Culture/Entertainment

By John Swartz

How do you put on a play and keep things responsible in light of the pandemic? Since it’s at the Opera House, the book has already been written how to do that. Find a play requiring only two actors, then find two actors who are married, to each other, or have some kind of living arrangement that feels like that. Line up a minimum of backstage crew, and away you go.

Norm Foster’s The Christmas Tree fits the bill. He can do mirth and merry in the same scene and I expect you’re not leaving in a down mood. The story is about two people who meet at the corner lot where Christmas trees are being sold.

The question is, when there’s only one tree left and two different people grab it simultaneously, who wins? How long can you stretch out a 5 minute interaction? It’s a one act play, so about 45 minutes, according to Norm.

This could have been the Battle of the Karens, ‘but I need it because…’ and we do get some excuses why each is more deserving of the tree, but in this case it’s a man and a women in each corner. Norm wrote the play in 2008 and I think maybe if it had been more recent he might have written it for two women since that is the current meme.

The actors are Gayle Carlyle and John Challis – and Stacey and Doug Ironside. That could be Stacey Scaht and Doug Ironside, they just got married and I don’t know if they did the name switcheroo.

Gayle Carlyle and John Challis (photo by Mike Beresford)

But wait a second John, you said there were only two actors.

I did, but I didn’t say all those folks are on stage at the same time.

Gayle and John are covering Thursday and Sunday performances, and Stacey and Doug Friday and Saturdays. All four are Mariposa Arts Theatre members and MAT is the producer, along with, for the first time I can recall, the Opera House. Of course the Opera House staff have been involved in just about everything MAT does, but this is new ground.

Like last summer’s On A First Name Basis with Jesse Collins and Viviana Zarrillo, the entire production is geared to well defined paths and distances between cast and the skeleton crew back stage along with a number of other things Opera House staff came up with to keep things within guidelines the province has established.  

Those rules also mean there won’t be any Christmas concerts this year, unless you go and see the play. The Orillia Silver Band is supplying a quartet and once the play runs its course they will play some jingle bell kinds of stuff. I hope the quartet is the tuba section; probably not, they’ll have some of those little tooters and maybe one tuba, but you can never have enough tubas.

When you get tickets, automatically you’ll be offered only seats more than 6 feet away from those already sold. You can sit with your partner or family and the ticket app will automatically black out the seats around your group.

The bar won’t be open, so you can bring your own drink (coffee, water, but not alcohol) and you can bring a bag of Skittles or whatever makes you happy. Just don’t go crunching wrappers.

The play runs to Dec. 6. This is another first, a three week run. There are evening shows each Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with matinees Thursdays and Sundays.

Creative Nomad’s First Gig

Last Saturday Craig Mainprize opened his show, Wind, at Creative Nomad Studios. New art, new gallery space. There were two reception times and each was limited to 25 people.

Craig’s art is interesting. He has his own colour palate, which is consistent across the various pieces. I noticed he doesn’t go with the hues and shades many others would use, but they work very well together.

Craig Mainprize's Wind exhibit at Creative Nomad

Image 1 of 4

It was nice to be among friends again in a social setting (other than on the street during the summer).

The Orillia District Arts Council has a desk prominently located on the main floor and right next door is the Orillia Fine Arts Association’s. It’s good both groups have a more public presence now.

Creative Nomad has a bunch of workshops lined up and Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. Craig has an artist talk about this exhibit which is currently hanging around. He also has a landscape workshop November 27.

You have to register for both and you’ll also find info about other events at Creative Nomad at the same link. Nov. 24 at 10 a.m. they have a meeting for those interested in running workshops, classes or programs.

The Shorts

*  Last week I wrote about the Orillia Rec Centre’s art exhibit space on the main floor by the service counter and how there is room for more art in the building. Well it turns out there are other spots earmarked for art. Craig Mainprize’s 2020 Ontario Winter Games mural is going to go up the Orillia Sports Hall of Fame Lounge on the upper level where the track is. There is also art by Prudence Smith hanging in the hall leading to the pool dressing rooms.

*  Don’t forget to surf in November 25 at 7 p.m. to find out who the  winners of the Orillia Regional Arts & Heritage Awards are. The 2nd annual continuation of award programs Orillia Museum of Art and History and ODAC  had 20 nominees over 5 categories. The presentations are being videotaped at the Leacock Museum and you’ll be able to watch them online  or on OMAH’s Facebook page or ODAC’s page, where you can also read nominating bios on each of the nominees right now.

*  Ginger Lips (Nates Mills and Angie Hiltz) have a couple new tunes out. Both are a really nicely orchestrated. One’s about frustration, the other religion.. Listen to them here.

*  The shakedown is done for the Orillia Youth Centre’s Valis Sound Studio and it’s now open for business. It’s set up to record music, or work on video projects. The cost is nothing. Check out the promo video they made.

Storyteller Betty Bennett

*  Storytelling Orillia has an event happening Nov. 29 from 2 to 4 p.m. at OMAH. The Legendary Kitchen Party has Betty Bennett as the featured speaker and Sharon Langfield and Peter Cox providing music. In the main gallery see the 19th annual Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition and upstairs it’s an historical look at women’s hockey with She Shoots… She Scores.  While the museum is open, you need to make an appointment to browse, call 705-326-2159. You can watch videos at home to pass time away, including one about Franklin Carmichael here. And finally, the QuarARTine auction is still happening with new pieces, which you can view and bid on here.

*  The 2nd volume of Mariposa Exposed is out. There are 96 short stories, some by familiar writers and some from people who just have a good story to tell. I’ve enjoyed reading it. You can get a copy at Manticore Books.

 *  The next installment of the Mariposa Virtual Stage with Buffy Ste. Marie and Celeigh Cardinal is now online.

*  There is fundraiser happening to establish a scholarship fund at the Orillia Youth Centre in memory of Jake Beers the Beers family calls hxmesweethxme. Check out their Facebook page for opportunities to contribute.

*  The Orillia branch of Dress For Success has a progressive, online, raffle called Toonie Tuesday. Tickets are $2 and you can buy as many as you like. Check their Facebook page frequently for updates on the jackpot size and weekly winners.

(Photos by Swartz – SUNonline/Orillia; Images Supplied) Main: Stacy Schat and Doug Ironside in Norm Foster’s The Christmas Tree (photo by Mike Beresford).

Rants & Raves

Support Independent Journalism