Rachel Dyck, For the Independent
At Elmira Theatre Company, taking to the stage is about more than simply putting on a good show. For more than 30 years, the organization has been a place where drama enthusiasts from Woolwich and beyond have gathered together to support one another in trying new and often challenging roles, both onstage and behind the scenes.
For Thom Smith, who has extensive experience in acting and technical design, being part of the ETC this season has given him opportunity to direct a show for the very first time. Titled Office Politics, the one-act play was performed at the Western Ontario Drama League’s annual Minifest in Kincardine this past weekend.
“What makes Minifest so different, challenging and fun is that every group (at the festival) does the same one-act play,” said producer and ETC vice-president of administration Mic Michenfelder at the dress rehearsal preview show for “Office Politics”, held in Elmira on July 19. “The aim of the Minifest Workshop Weekend is to give groups a chance to enter a festival without the problems of transporting a set, and to let new directors, actors and technicians try their hands at something on a smaller scale than the major competitive festival.”
Rather than performing to compete with other community theatre groups, Smith and his team of new and experienced actors and stage crew are taking part in Minifest to build their skill-set and gain feedback from the other community theatre groups and audience members at the festival.
“We’ve got a great opportunity to learn from others in the theatre business,” said Smith after the show. “What this is doing is giving fledgling directors an opportunity to direct a show without feeling the same pressure (as would be present in a large show).”
Written by a member of the Kincardine Theatre Guild, Office Politics plays on workplace dynamics by telling the story of a design company working to please a wealthy client. While the company’s six employees have differing personalities, they all clash with their boss. The story explores the characters’ reactions to their manager’s domineering ways, going on to tell of the company’s eventual dissolution when their wealthy client personally hires or retires everyone but the manager.
Included in the cast are Deb Deckert, Kathy Fahey, Tom Fahey, Dan Holt, Brandon Maxwell, Jill Peterson and Katrina Rigelhof.
Office Politics will be Holts’ first time onstage in 46 years. Iris Miltenburg is stage manager, and Danielle Ball is assistant stage manager, while Mic Michenfelder is the producer.
The team has been working on the show twice weekly since the end of May and has enjoyed working with a ‘Wizard-of-Oz’ theme under Smith’s direction. They were looking forward to taking part in Minifest, noting that it will undoubtedly be a memorable experience.
“You’re among friends,” said Smith. “All kinds of crazy things can come out of this.”