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ECT seeking new rehearsal space


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Whitney Neilson
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Whitney Neilson is a photo journalist for The Observer.

Big changes are on the horizon for Elora Community Theatre. Big changes they weren’t expecting, like losing their rehearsal space come the end of July.

Elora Community Theatre is busy preparing for Shakespeare in the Park this July, while also looking for a new rehearsal space given the pending sale of the group’s current location.[Submitted]
Elora Community Theatre is busy preparing for Shakespeare in the Park this July, while also looking for a new rehearsal space given the pending sale of the group’s current location. [Submitted]
ECT president Deb Stanson says they found out last week the building they’ve been rehearsing in for the last year has been sold. Now, they’re looking to the community for help finding a suitable space for a group who’s got a busy season coming up.

“I sent out an email to the board and I must have got “OMG” at least five times,” Stanson said. “It’s a lot because we’ve got 43 years worth of wonderful costumes, we’ve got flats and set pieces. It’s a lot to move and plus it’s costly as well.”

They’re looking at two options, the first of which is a separate rehearsal space and storage area. Ideally, they’d like to have it all in one place again.

“We used to be at the Elora Centre for the Arts. We just had a room there, so of course all of our other stuff is located around the countryside and our costumes room is located in someone’s basement. And she was selling her home so that’s what necessitated the move over to Gary Cooper’s. The building’s been up for sale for quite a while, so we figured we’d have at least a couple of years there,” Stanson explained.

Their current rehearsal space was the first time in 43 years of ECT’s existence they’ve had everything under one roof. They could rehearse and build their sets in the same place. They have a couple leads on new locations, but nothing definite yet.

“We’ve been nomads, so the longest we’ve been anywhere was we used to rent space right at the corner of Mill and Metcalfe, right across from the Metcalfe Inn,” Stanson said. “It used to be the Odd Fellows Hall, so we had the whole top floor there for 12 years. And then they sold the building so we’ve kind of been on the move since then.  That would have been in 1999.”

They’ve had access to a barn for more than 30 years where they’ve been able to store some stuff, but it’s not ideal for keeping everything, since it’s not heated and animals do go through it.

With auditions coming up this month for their fall production of Don’t Talk to the Actors, it’s essential they find a space as soon as possible so they can start rehearsing in August.

Auditions run June 21 and June 23 at 7 p.m. at the old auto showroom across from the Elora Quarry, their current rehearsal space. Director Nancy Reaume says they need three men and three women of varying ages to fill the roles.

“There’s a man who is the actual playwright, his name is Jerry and he’s in his 30s. His girlfriend, who’s not really a theatre person but is along with them, her name is Arlene. She’s 25 to 30. Mike, who is the producer is in his 50s. Curt is in his 60s who is in the play and is very full of himself, very confident, very over the top. And then Beatrice who’s in her 60s is an actress in the play who is past her prime, but doesn’t think that she is. And then Lucinda who could be 30s, early 40s is the stage manager who is extremely OCD,” Reaume said.

It takes place in New York City in modern day time. It follows actors in a rehearsal space and explores what happens during rehearsal time. She says it will appeal to anyone who has worked in theatre. They’ll recognize the ups, the downs, the characters, and the personalities. But it will also appeal to anyone that goes to the theatre because they’ll get an inside look into what happens during rehearsal.

“I heard about it when I was travelling down through the states and I liked the title to start with. And then I researched it and I could really identify with it,” Reaume said. “It’s a comedy but the characters all have warm hearts, kind places, so it’s not just about the funny lines, but it’s  actually about their emotions and their feelings. It really appealed to me. And because I’ve worked in the theatre for many years I could identify with a lot of it.”

Before ECT gets into that production though, they’ve got two weeks of Shakespeare in the Park in downtown Elora, starting on July 10. Tom Dudzick’s Don’t Talk to the Actors runs in November, followed by Christmas Cabaret in December. The Drawer Boy will open in February and they’ll end their season in May with Little Women.

“We always work it out one way or another,” Reaume said. “We’re very adaptable. If we have to rehearse in my house until we find something or my backyard or someone’s garage, we work it out.”

“The show must go on as they say,” Stanson said.

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