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On Saturday, the theatre is the thing, not the play

You may have taken a seat during one of the many performances at the Drayton Festival Theatre, but this weekend you’ll have a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes.

A first for the location, the tours set for September 29 put a spotlight on part of the theatre normally off limits to the public.

“What’s unique about the Drayton Festival is it is a 1902 opera house,” said Steven Karcher, Drayton Entertainment’s executive director. “It has had many iterations in its storied history. It has served not just as an opera house, but it has served as municipal council chambers, a library, and even county jail. So it’s a great opportunity for us to give the full history of the space as people are working through different facets of the building.”

The event is in collaboration with the Township of Mapleton and complements the strategic goal of the nationwide Culture Days festivities. Culture Days is a public engagement initiative launched in 2010 dedicated to fostering support for diverse arts and culture community.

“We know that audiences are always interested in the aspects of theatre that happen backstage,” said Alex Mustakas, artistic director of Drayton Entertainment. “We look forward to welcoming the community and giving people a rare look behind the scenes at the Drayton Festival Theatre.”

“The public will get the unique opportunity to see all of the magic that goes on behind the scenes in order to bring a production to life on stage,” said Karcher.

“That includes everything from what’s happening from an administrative level, with our administrative offices and downstairs to the dressing rooms, the green rooms, and what’s happening backstage with the theatre itself. Which gives people a different perspective and appreciation for the productions that they enjoy onstage.”

The theatre has hosted these tours at other locations, including at the Hamilton Family Theatre in Cambridge and the St. Jacob’s Country Playhouse in St. Jacob’s. According to Karcher, the event will appeal to the public in general, not solely for those involved in the theatre.

“I think the intent of Culture Days is about accessibility,” explained Karcher. “It’s an opportunity for us as an organization to showcase what we do to the community at large. Which does include people who already frequent the theatre and would find it interesting to see the work that goes into producing the productions that they enjoy onstage. It is also an opportunity for people who have never frequented the theatre to come out and see what is involved in producing live theatre.

“So even if someone never comes to see one of our theatre shows, we’re hoping that after the completion of our tours, they’ll at least leave with a greater understanding and appreciation for this 1902 opera house and the role that it plays in servicing a rural community.”

There will not be a rehearsal in session when the public tours the building; their next production is Kings and Queens of Country, which will be presented starting October 3.

The behind-the-scenes tours, lasting about an hour, are free of charge starting at 11 a.m. and running until 2:30 p.m. Advance sign-up is not required. Click for more information.

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