Theatre company, Rural Learning Association plan play on mega-quarry
Everybody’s Theatre Company (ETC) and the Rural Learning Association (RLA) have launched a creative collaboration with local residents in the development of an all-inclusive, community-engaged outdoor mobile play exploring the many dimensions of the Melancthon Mega-quarry issue.
The research and development phase of this project will culminate with a staged reading of a draft script, an exhibition of design concept drawings, initial choreography and draft musical compositions. This first phase will provide the opportunity for feedback on the draft work and serve as outreach to the community in terms of wider participation in the full-scale production phase.
Between this month and September 2013, Eden Mills-based ETC will focus significant attention on the townships of Melancthon and Mulmur, basing itself at The Highland Learning Centre (home to RLA) in Honeywood. The staged reading will take place in the fall of 2013.
ETC and RLA, after assessing local interest, made funding applications to the Community Arts sections of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts (March 2012 deadlines). Both applications were successful. All bookkeeping and administration will be handled through ETC. Local fundraising will not be undertaken for this project.
Dale Hamilton, Artistic Director/Producer of ETC, will facilitate script development and will lead a team of three artists who live in the affected watersheds, along with three Native resource people, to undertake research & development specifically in terms of script, costume and prop design, musical composition and choreography.
Dale has over 25 years of experience in community-engaged arts and six-generationsdeep rural roots, including a term as a municipal councillor in Eramosa Township.
Other confirmed artists are James Gordon (music), Sandi Wong (design), Ayrlie MacEachern (dance) plus First Nations resource people Aiyyana Maracle, Del Ashkewe and John Somosi.
In keeping with the long-standing philosophy of ETC, participation will be all-inclusive and intergenerational. Although residents of Melancthon and Mulmur townships will be the focus, no one would be turned away, especially given the fact that the proposed mega-quarry would have an impact well beyond the immediate area. Attention will be given to encouraging broad-based participation, including First Nations people, local politicians, long-time residents, newcomers and part time residents. The project received a letter of interest from the North Dufferin Agricultural & Community Taskforce (NDACT), the organization at the forefront of the Mega-Quarry issue.
For details of ETC’s process and experience, go to an article by Dale Hamilton at www.communityengagedtheatre.ca
Specifics of the process for this particular project will be developed in consultation with a local broad-based steering committee that is presently being established. Given the highprofile and controversial nature of this issue, the play will not present one point of view, but will instead present different perspectives and provide an opportunity for creative exploration and relationship-building in the midst of a community in crisis.
Twenty five years of experience has clearly demonstrated that community-engaged theatre (such as is being proposed) can have a powerful impact on individuals and communities, particularly when facing a crisis, and can provide the conditions for meaningful and passionate conversations, thereby laying a stronger foundation for sustained concrete action.