All Together Now at Port Perry Town Hall, Durham MiniFest runs Aug 5 and 6

By David Rabjohn

A rare and exciting program of theatre hits the stage this weekend (August 5 and 6) at the Port Perry Town Hall.  Sponsored by Theatre 3X60 and others, it is called The Durham Minifest with its headline banner reading “The Play’s the same, the action never is!”

The program consists of a single one-act script written by local playwright Graeme Powell named All Together Now.  Six different community theatre groups will perform the same script over the two days with their own personal vision of the production.  Added to the program is an adjudicator, Lindsay Price, who will also host workshop programs.

This unique weekend event has been spearheaded by Velika Maxam who recalled a similar program in south western Ontario where she began a lengthy and talented career in the theatre.  She recalls that the festival’s mandate was to create opportunities for actors, directors and playwrights where such opportunity might have been sparse.  The adjudicator was added to give it an educational component while the combination of various companies gives a rare chance for companies to learn and create together.  Another unique, and inspiring aspect of the program is that each participating company is mandated to include at least one team member who is new to theatre.

Groundhog Day?  I don’t think so!  I was generously invited to one theatre’s rehearsal to get a view of the process.  It was clear from the beginning that the seven cast members and the production crew were very excited about the idea of multiple interpretations.  Director Ian Speiran was keen to find moments in the script that could be used to make his production unique.  His creative design ideas give his production a special context. (No secrets will be delineated in this article!)  Most cast members felt it was important to go through the production process as they normally would without considering the fact that other parallel productions were ongoing.  However, when given a chance to visit the Port Perry venue and meet other actors in the same play, they could not help but feel intrigued.

Ms. Maxam and others have worked for many months to create a very professional summer festival.  She is proud of her work and predicts that it will be “momentum for the future.”  With this in mind, we look forward to more of the same.  I encourage new and/or frequent theatre-goers to take in one or many of the productions.  All the ticket and schedule information can be found at www.theatre3X60.ca.  Who knows – maybe even Bill Murray might show up!