Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Introducing A Bench in the Sun

Yesterday I told you about the Innocents, our Hallowe'en show at the Fergus Grand Theatre. For those of you who may not be interested in the frightening prospects of a ghost story, we have another show about some people who aren't dead just quite yet.

It's A Bench in the Sun, a play about three seniors living in a retirement home. There's Burt, the curmudgeonly accountant with no regard to fashion who's got a score to settle... with Harold, the dandy-ish "man-about-town" who can barely stand but still comes out of his room every morning looking to impress. In between them comes Adrienne, the former actress, very famous and instantly irresistible to both of the men. Thus a battle for her affection ensues, and alongside it the fate of their lives at the home is played out, when it is revealed that their home is about to be sold to a developer and the residents shipped off somewhere else.

A Bench in the Sun is a charming, funny play that will keep audiences of all ages giggling. It opens October 23rd at the Elora Centre for the Arts and runs the 23rd, 24th and 25th at 8pm, with a 2pm matinee on the 25th as well. Tickets are available by calling 519-780-7593, or visiting the Elora Centre for the Arts.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Introducing The Innocents

Just in time for Hallowe'en, we've got an old-fashioned ghost story for you, about a lovely young governess, Miss Giddens, who comes to a country estate in the late 1800's to see to the instruction of two precocious children. With their parents dead, their guardian uncle off in the city and quite uninterested, the children have both come under the influence of two despicable members of the household - one the former governess, the other the former butler. Both of the children have been touched by this evil they do not understand, and it makes them act out in mysterious, terrifying ways.

Though both the governess and the butler are dead long before the play begins, their spirits continue to haunt the house, and possess the children. It is up to Miss Giddens to free them of this terror (for no one else will dare), and save their immortal souls.

Based on The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James this play features many a good fright, and a plot that will keep you guessing until the last moments of the play. The show will run October 23rd, 24th and 25th at 8pm, with a 2pm matinee on the 25th as well. Tickets are now on sale at the Fergus Grand Theatre box office, available by calling 519-787-1981.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Poverty Anonymous – Call for actors

I know I've already posted this - but I still need some actors - get in touch with me if you are interested!

In my ongoing quest for profitability, I've decided to write a play about poverty.

I have inserted it into our fall season, as the December show at the Elora Centre for the Arts, rather than the royalties project we had originally penciled in there.

The show is called Poverty Anonymous, and its set up just like any other "anonymous" meeting, except the people you will meet there are all guilty of the crime of poverty. Led by their wealthy, tenacious, ex-poor-person moderator June, this motley crew of losers, low-lifes, and ne'er do wells tries to put their pasts behind them, and assert once and for all the PA motto:

“There is no greater force on Heaven or on Earth than the Almighty Dollar.”

Join them, as they recite the Poverty Anonymous pledge before every meeting:

I am broke, and that’s not ‘oke,
Being a bum is very dumb,
I am a jerk until I go to work,
But cash in hand will make me grand.

I'm looking for several women to help me out in this show. I can make room for pretty much anyone who’s willing to come to the rehearsals and learn their lines, so please e-mail me at grinder@grinderproductions.org if you are female, over the age of 15, and would like to be in this show.

Sarcasm... gotta love it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Art of the Business

Yesterday I referenced Rebecca Coleman's postings on The Next Stage Blog. Today I thought I would give you the link to the first posting in the series, so you could check it out for yourself (just click on the title of this posting). It's some interesting reading, and if you're as concerned as I am about putting butts in seats (and that's paying butts, not freebies, corporate give-aways or any other cop-outs) then I think you will find it invaluable.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Breaking a few more rules

I've been thinking about how things are different in theatre now. It plays directly into my "Naked Theatre" concept (no, I haven't forgotten it, I'm just letting it stew around for a while until I arrive at a more succinct definition), and I'm thinking today that nowhere is the new reality more evident than in marketing.

I've been reading with great interest Rebecca Coleman's blog over at The Next Stage about marketing theatre. It's some good stuff, but it's a little scary too - I'm already actually doing most of that stuff, and it's still no guarantee that the people are going to come out.

Her main point, though, that you have to have something about you that makes you unique, is, I think the touchstone of the entire argument. You can argue about the semantics of your Facebook prescence all you want (I have) but it ultimately is no more than just good sense to do all the things you should do - and that's all. It's not that all the things you should do will actually help you, all you can do by doing the things you should do is make sure that you're not hurting yourself by not doing them.

Sound confusing? How about putting it this way - what makes you unique is what makes you successful - the rest is gravy. You have to be unique, and somebody, somewhere, has got to be turned on by your uniqueness. If you want to make a living in this business, whatever makes you unique had better be a turn on to a lot of people. It's why a show without a single poster will play to thousands while a show with a $10,000 marketing budget will play to the crickets.

Now I'm not saying this means you should start doing nothing but Norm Foster plays, just because that's what a lot of people like to see (no offense, Norm!). Somebody else is already being unique by doing Norm Foster plays - namely Norm Foster. At Grinder, we aren't going to be the next Norm Foster. We are going to be the next Grinder Productions. We are unique. We are Theatre that Dares to be Different. It's time we used our uniqueness to turn a few more people on.

Another day, another theatre truism turned on its head. What's next?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Ticketing System Coming to the Fergus Grand Theatre - Now we need some box office Volunteers!

I'm pleased to announce that the Fergus Grand Theatre is in the midst of a transformation to the 21st century. After years of quiet diplomacy, the powers that be have seen fit to allow the theatre its own internet connection. (Leafs fans, you can start planning the Stanley Cup parade now - Hell HAS frozen over!) This, in turn, has paved the way for the introduction of a new, more comprehensive box office and theatre management system, one that will provide users groups like Grinder Productions with a whole host of new resources.

First and foremost, the new system will allow users the freedom to pay by any method they choose - we can now process debit cards and credit cards. It also means that we can now take a payment over the phone when someone calls in to make a reservation - no more unpaid no-shows. This system is fully web-based, so patrons can browse shows and purchase tickets online from the Fergus Grand Theatre website (or through the Grinder site - we'll be linking directly), anytime and anywhere they like. The can even print their tickets at home.

This also will serve to better promote shows online - we can link directly from say, our Facebook page, to the box office, for seamless access to the purchasing process. Since our shows at the Fergus Grand are generally reserved seating, patrons can select exactly the seat they want. There's even a very cool feature where you can click on any given seat and get a snapshop of exactly what your view of the stage will be from that seat!

The program itself has some built-in marketing tools that will allow the Fergus Grand Theatre to complement our online marketing campaign with its own, thus getting the word out to a greater number of people. And since it's a "one-stop shop" for every company that uses the theatre, patrons who come to the site to buy other shows will also be able to view information and purchase tickets to Grinder shows as well.

Not available right away, though coming soon, will be the ability to purchase gift certificates online, as well as ways in which you can make donations to the theatre or a certain theatre company. The system is also set up to handle subscription sales, so this should mean that you will be able to use your "Grinder Card" to buy tickets as well, but I'm not sure on the logistics of that at this time (What? You haven't heard of the Grinder Card? Then click [here - insert hyperlink] to find out all about it!).

Down the road, there is the possibility for this program to be expanded to other venues - we could be using it to sell our tickets for the Ennotville and Belwood summer seasons, thus allowing us to offer a level of professionalism in these venues we couldn't dream of providing on its own.

The system is designed by a company called TixHub, a Canadian company that has designed box office systems for places like Guelph's River Run Centre and Mississauga's Stage West. They have 24/7 technical support and they are very sensitive to the needs of their customer, and willing to customize their system based on the customer's needs. In the case of the Fergus Grand Theatre, this customization is very important, given the unique challenges we are faced with in this building and this market.

One of the things I like best about this system is that it's not just a box office, but a whole Theatre and Event Administration and Management tool. We'll get comprehensive box office reports for each show, so we'll know how many tickets were bought, at what price, and just about anything else we could need. As I mentioned above, the theatre will be able to help with marketing in more ways than ever before. And when the show is over, our accounting process will be much simpler. The program will take the total revenue, deduct all box office charges, then deduct the rent, and the township will issue us a check for the remainder (or - Heaven forbid! - an invoice for the difference), which will avoid a lot of the inherent delays in the current system, where we've got to sit on a ton of revenue for weeks or months in order to make sure we can pay the rent.

Of course, it's not all roses - there will be increased costs involved. Those "box office charges" that I mentioned above are significant, but even they have some benefits built in.

The Front of House fee, the per-patron seat charge already being collected by the Fergus Grand Theatre Volunteers, will fall under the new system, so a portion of every ticket sold will still be going towards the purchase of new technical equipment for the theatre, as well as other items that will improve the theatre's day-to-day operations.

Another portion of the box office charges will go towards a Capital Replacement Fund, investing in the long-term future viability of the building. Anyone who knows the age and condition of the building will know that a capital fund is a long-overdue necessity, and one that I, along with everyone else who donated to the last capital improvement fund (the one set-up by the building's former tenants and has absolutely no connection whatsoever with this one), will be watching very, very closely to ensure that money is well spent.

Those fees, and the actual cost of operating and maintaining the system itself will be, I believe, a fair price to pay. The theatre should be able to use this program to offer top-notch customer service, comprehensive online marketing, and detailed, accurate attendance information. And on the off-hand chance they don't do those things, we can now better hold the theatre to task for it, since we are paying for it directly.

The end result for Grinder Productions and, indeed, for all the groups who rent the Fergus Grand, should be should more bums in seats, as well as a more viable theatre building now and in the years ahead.

In short, I'm very excited about the possibilities this new system opens up for us at the Fergus Grand Theatre.

Now here's where you come in. The theatre is looking for 10 to 15 people who are willing to become box office volunteers and be trained on this program. Volunteers would be asked to work a shift about once every two weeks during the new regular box office hours of 11am - 2pm, Tuesday through Saturday. In addition, there would also be the opportunity for two-hour stints during actual events (get there 90 minutes before curtain to open the box office an hour before curtain, and to stay and deal with latecomers, then cash out 30 minutes after curtain), so this might be an option for you if you're not available during the day. Volunteers would receive full training in the new system (tentatively scheduled for the last week of October) and begin working the box office as of November 1st.

I'd love to see as many Grinder members a possible become volunteers in this new system. If we're going to be using it in our summer venues down the road we're going to need people who know the system ourselves, and not just yours truly (who will be signing up for the training just like anyone else, by the way).

Interested persons should contact Alan Argue, the Operations Manager at the Fergus Grand Theatre, for more information, or to sign up. Alan is available by phone at 519-787-1981 or now, finally, via email at AArgue@centrewellington.ca.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ain't Really Trying... to confuse you

You may have noticed a couple of very odd postings over the last couple of weeks. Three words, then the word "Art," and some miniscule writing. If it got you scratching your head a bit, that's good. If you managed to figure it out without the aid of a magnifying glass, that's even better.

Of course, those postings were my slightly more entertaining way of introducing our next production to you. It is called Art, and it's an international hit show, written by Yasmina Reza and translated into English by Christopher Hampton. It dares to ask the question "What is Art?" by telling a story about three friends, one of whom has just bought a painting - a white painting, with maybe some bits of non-white in it, for a very, very large sum of money. Marc, Serge and Yvan all have very different ideas about the painting, and come to blows over their disagreements, resulting in bruised egos for them and an evening of hilarity for us. Whether you're an artist, art lover, artists' lover, or think your Elvis-on-velvet is more precious than the Mona Lisa, you'll find something to laugh about in this show.

October 3rd and 4th at 8pm, October 4th at 2pm, at the Elora Centre for the Arts, as part of the Sensational Elora Festival. Tickets are $15 each, and available at the Arts Centre, at the Door, or on the Sensational Elora Website, available here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Programming Update - Poverty Anonymous

In my ongoing quest for profitability, I've decided to write a play about poverty.

I have inserted it into our fall season, as the December show at the Elora Centre for the Arts, rather than the royalties project we had originally penciled in there.

The show is called Poverty Anonymous, and it's set up just like any other "anonymous" meeting, except the people you will meet there are all guilty of the crime of poverty. Led by their wealthy, tenacious, ex-poor-person moderator, June, this motley crew of losers, low-lifes, and ne'er do wells tries to put their pasts behind them, and assert once and for all the PA motto:

“There is no greater force on Heaven or on Earth than the Almighty Dollar.”

Join them, as they recite the Poverty Anonymous pledge before every meeting:

The PA pledge:

I am broke, and that’s not ‘oke,
Being a bum is very dumb,
I am a jerk until I go to work,
But cash in hand will make me grand.

I'm looking for some women to help me out in this show. I'll take pretty much anyone, so please e-mail me at grinder@grinderproductions.org if you are female, over the age of 15, and would like to be in this show.

Sarcasm... gotta love it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Theatre Ideas: Divine Fury

Take a look at this folks: I've linked to this blog before, and while I don't agree with everything they say here (and I sometimes find the bickering a bit childish) they are making a good case for the need for intellingent thought and debate about the future of the performing arts in general and theatre in particular. I think they're right about one thing, at least: something big is coming, we just don't know what it is yet.

Theatre Ideas: Divine Fury

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Times they Are A Changing - Part 2 - Grinder Productions

Yesterday I mused at length about the deplorable state of Canadian Theatre since 9/11. I don't know that it is totally deplorable, or that it can't recover, all I know is that I'm not comfortable with things the way they are, and I can't afford to sit around and wait for things to change.

So am I going to go and work in a bank? No! Like the title line of this blog says, we're smashing all the rules, so somebody hand me my sledgehammer.

The first rule that has to go: Name recognition counts for something. This summer I can only think of one couple who came out to see one of our shows because they had heard of the playwright, and only one other couple who came out to see one of our shows because they had heard of the play. Samuel French, in their infinite wisdom, see fit to charge a premium on plays by Neil Simon, simply because, as a well-known name, he should draw more people. Well, he didn't, and we pushed that show just as hard, if not harder, than all the others.

So what does count for something? So far the only concrete indicator, in this market, that I can find, for getting a patron to come out to a show, is that they have a personal connection to it. They may know an actor, or know me, or know the venue, but whatever it is that connection must be strong and it must be personal.

That's not to say that the product onstage doesn't matter. The product onstage can't be crude, offensive, bawdy, blasphemous (especially blasphemous) or run more than two hours including intermission. And it can't cost too much either, especially if it's your own kid you're paying to see. Rather than looking for reasons to come to a show, today's patrons are looking for reasons not to come to a show. If everything clears their personal checklist, then yes, they'll think about it, if they have that personal connection, but if there's anything amiss then they'll send an apologetic but congratulatory e-mail to their friend after the show is over.

Okay, so you're William Shakespeare. Big deal, nobody cares, or at least they don't care enough to buy a ticket.

So who does care about you enough to buy a ticket? That's a question I ask every actor in every show I do. I give them the following list of people in their lives that they can ask to come to see them in the show. I don't know how many actors actually read this list, much less actually take the time to actively ask each of these individuals and groups of people to come to the show, but if they did it would certainly make my life a lot less stressful.

Here's the list:

Just in case you were stuck for people to ask to come and see our play... who on this list haven't you asked yet?

What can you say to them? How about this:

I'm in a play! It's amazing! It's called _______________, and it runs ______________ at the _____________________. Here, have a flyer!

Your family members?
Your extended family members?
Your step-family members?
Your half-family members?
Your estranged family members?
The people that live at your house and might as well be family members?
Your best friend?
Your worst enemy?
All your friends?
All your enemies?
Your church congregation?
Your students?
Your teachers?
Your professors?
Your doctor?
Your dentist?
Your hair dresser?
The pool boy?
The landscaper?
The contractor?
The house painter?
The person that fixes your car?
The person that reads your meter?
The person you sit next to on the bus?
The person who sets up your cable?
The person who fixes your computer?
The person who rang through your groceries?
The people in your car pool?
The people where you work?
Your boss?
Your boss's bosses?
The board of directors?
Your local member of parliment?
Your local municipal councilor?
The actors in that other play you're doing?
The people in your choir?
The people in your service club?
The people on your sports team?
The people who have kids on your kids team?
The coach of your kids team?
Your neighbours?
Your neighbours where you used to live?
The cute waitress at the bar?
The ugly waitress at the bar?
The policeman who pulled you over for the RIDE check?
The bagel guy?
The people in you professional association?
The people in your union?
The people on your sales list?
The people on your prospective sales list?
The people on your e-mail list?
Your Facebook Friends?
The convenience store clerk who sells you a lottery ticket?
The person who puts gas in your car?
The people you were in your last play with?
Anyone you've ever been in a play with?
People you know that are interested in going to plays?
Your priest or spiritual adviser?
Your roommate?
Your boyfriend/girlfriend?

Okay, so most actors aren't going to invest that kind of time and effort in a play. Heck, if most actors would just invest the time it takes to learn their lines and blocking in a timely fashion ( and not a day before we open) that would also make my life a lot less stressful.

That leads nicely into my next rule that has to be smashed: You can't do your own plays and expect that people will come. That was the rule I lived by for years. I've enthusiastically thrown all the Alan Ayckbourn, Neil Simon and every "stock" play I thought I could produce in front of audiences, hoping that Noises Off would bring out more people than Waiting for Godot. And while in a head-to-head match up in this town Noises Off would likely come out on top (Godot has many of those reasons not to go to a play that I mentioned above built right into it), I think it would be a closer call than you might think, and I think that Godot, could it be orchestrated so as to have a personal connection with enough people, could even come out on top (apparently it was a huge success when performed before inmates at San Quentin, or some other maximum security prison in the US - the murderers, drug dealers and pedophiles thought it spoke directly to their existence).

I'll let you in on a little secret. Do you know which one of our shows did the best this summer? It was Farmer's Daughters. Why? Because we didn't have to cough up $75 a night for Alan Ayckbourn or $125 for Neil Simon. And you know what else? Nobody cared that I had written the show! I, a small-town starving artist with limited talent, few resources and a tight deadline, managed to create something that was, if not a masterpiece, good enough for enough people for me to pay for the hall and a little bit of tech and marketing. Effectively, what was left over became the royalty, and that has gone straight back into the company.

So from now on, you won't be seeing as many well-known plays at Grinder Productions. Yes, there will be some, of course, but if we can produce plays at Grinder why can't we write them as well? When I started Grinder it was to do my own plays, and the only reason I started to look at plays from other sources was because I couldn't afford to do anything else. Oddly enough, the pendulum has swung back the other way, and writing plays is no longer a time-waster it is a money-maker. I think as time goes by new works, both my own and those written by other members of the company, will become more distinct, and eventually it will become the norm here at Grinder.

Well, I think that's enough rule-smashing for one day. I'm sure there's someone out there who thinks I'm full of it when it comes to all this, that I just don't get it, that I should go and get a haircut and a real job and get out of the way of the real theatre people who know what they're doing. I just don't know that those people will take the time to read all of this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Times They Are A Changing

Though this post won't be released until September 16th (with any luck that will be the day you read it, unless the guys at blogger are asleep at the switch), I am writing it on September 11th. Not exactly the cheeriest day of the year, I know, but it is a date that punctuates pretty much every facet of our lives today. So too with theatre.

Jerry Wasserman, editor of the "Modern Canadian Plays" anthology (4th edition), unwittingly hints at the perils that were about to hit the national theatre scene as his work went to press. In his introduction to the second volume of the work he devotes one of the concluding paragraphs to a lament about the collapse of the theatre publishing industry in Canada, and ends on this prophetic note:

"As I write this in the early spring of 2001, the situation is desperate but, as always, hopeful."

(I hope Wasserman will forgive me for not making a correct bibligraphic citation here - I was asleep for that class!)

A year or two later, during the Canadian Drama course that I had bought the anthology for, our professor (the much esteemed Peter Cumming), suggested that Canadian Drama (in English) could be divided, however imperfectly, into two time periods, everything before the Centennial Year of 1967, and everything after, starting with George Ryga's The Ecstasy of Rita Joe as a touchstone moment.

It was then that I, the know-it-all with bad eyesight who'd gone back to school, suggested that perhaps September 11th, 2001 represented the start of a 3rd epoch in Canadian Drama. Dutifully Cumming wrote my notion on the blackboard, but we never explored the concept much further. Looking back though, perhaps I was onto something after all, even in my post-adolescent angst.

September 11th is the official reason my former employer, Theatre on the Grand, went belly up. The attacks made for jittery investors, a lot less American Tourists, and a town full of theatregoers who suddenly wanted to stay home and hold onto their children and grandchildren.

I would argue that there has also been a change in the way we make theatre. Gone are the intense debates of a "national drama" that were sparked by plays by people like David French or Judith Thompson or George F Walker (all included in Wasserman's anthology, of course). I can't think of a single play since 9/11 that has fundamentally changed the face of Canadian Theatre. Instead, I see the increasing fragmentation and struggle (like the death agony of Theatre Passe Muraille), a grasping at an ever-vanishing, ever-elusive notion of "our audience," like it was an amorphous mass who did nothing but graze in the fields between showtimes. Certainly people are trying, but is Top Gun: The Musical really the next Salt Water Moon? Is Da Kink in My Hair going to resonate like Verdecchia's Fronteras Americanas? While I don't want to disparage any of these shows (all four I would highly recommend to anyone), and while their creators may have begun them before 9/11, the newer plays have come of age in a much more dangerous world.

Creativity can only flourish where it lives without fear. For the affluent creator (yes, there was a time when Canada Council grants made such a thing possible) to create plays in this country was to be like a child playing in a sandbox - no cares, no worries, and always safe in the knowledge that mom was watching us from nearby and wouldn't let anyone take us away. So it was okay to take chances, to make mistakes, to go places and do things that no one had ever done before.

But on 9/11 our mom got a broken nose for being too mean to the other kid's mommies. All of the sudden things weren't so happy in the sandbox - we realized that at any moment we too could be the ones on the plane, or even rehearsing a play in one of our fabulously designed, scantily defended theatres, and evil could touch us, and do it very easily. As a community, theatre began to fortify, with sandbags of Walt Wingfield, megamusicals (even in places like Drayton and Stratford!) and British Farces, with a steady stream of Norm Foster plays as cover fire. Thus we created Fortress Theatre - where we could be safe, where we could generate enough revenue to keep the home fires burning, and weather the economic storm. Unfortunately this had a bad effect on the creative juices, and we are just now starting to reassert ourselves, to give ourselves the permission to take chances once again.

At least I am. More to follow on that tomorrow.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Aimless Rant Tirade

Am Really Trying

Aren't Ready To

Announce Reasoning Today

Are Ruminating, Thou?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fergus Grand Theatre Website

Just thought I'd post the link today to the Fergus Grand Theatre website, since not a lot of people even know it exists. There's upcoming Grinder information on there, as well as other upcoming news and events. Get it here, and add it to your bookmarks.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Open-ended question

I'm a little stumped for material today... it seems that the well of inspiration has temporarily run dry, due no doubt to the long, hot summer. So in abscence of a posting, I'd like to pose a question to all of you, and see if you can help me out. Here goes:

What was the last play you attended, and most importantly, why did you go to that particular play?

Just wondering....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Laugh-in Wrap-up

I'd like to send out a big Thank-you to the cast and crew of Laugh-in, our production this past weekend at the Fergus Grand. It was so nice to kick off our fall season with such a wonderful ensemble, who all worked very hard to bring this evening of madness we laughingly called Laugh-in to the stage. Thanks guys.

And if you missed that show, don't depair! We have more shows coming up throughout the fall and winter and spring, at the Grand and at the Elora Centre for the Arts. Stay tuned to the blog for all the latest news!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Introducing... The Grinder Card

We're rolling out something new here at Grinder Productions, something that I hope you will enjoy. It's the Grinder Card.

The Grinder Card is our way of saying thanks to our most devoted fans. It works just like a season subscription, but rather than being tied to a specific series of shows, it is good for admission to any Grinder show, in any venue, at any time. $100 will get you a card that is good for ten admissions to Grinder events. That means you essentially have ten tickets, at ten dollars each, for any Grinder shows you may wish to attend. You can come alone and just use one admission, or come as a couple and use two. Or bring a friend, or two friends, it doesn't matter. The card is simply a way for you to gain ten admittances to any Grinder Productions shows you like.

To get your card please call 519-780-7593, or e-mail grinder@grinderproductions.org.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Random Thought

A Random Thought...
A Rollicking Tune/
A Raucous Time!
A Ring Tone?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Laugh-in closes this weekend!

That's the nature of the one-weekend shows, folks! Just four shows, that's all you get to see this, and then it will be gone forever. Don't miss the hilarity of Kimberley Young as "Nanette Oomlak," David Lamble as "The Judge", Taylor Delangis as the "Parson", Kaitlyn Walton as the "Cockney Girl," Julie Kennedy as the "Old Maid", Bert Chamberlain as "Dan" and yours truly as "Dick." Also making cameo appearances will be the Letch, the German Soldier, the Reconstituted Lady, and even the dumb blonde!

Call the Fergus Grand at 519-787-1981 for tickets to this very special Grinder Productions event.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in - live onstage at the Fergus Grand Theatre

Just a final reminder to everyone that our fall season at the Grand kicks off tonight, with the stage version of Rowan and Martin's classic TV comedy Laugh-in. A big thank-you goes out to the cast, crew and everyone else who has worked so hard to bring this show to life. I may be a little biased, but as far as I'm concerned their results are spectacular. Don't miss it!

We run for just three days: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, with a 2pm Saturday matinee. Tickets are available by calling the Fergus Grand Theatre box office directly at 519-787-1981.

Here come the Judge!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Newsletter and Website

Just a quick note to let everyone know that today's newsletter is available on the website, right here.

While you're on the website, take a moment to look around. We've made a few changes, added and updated some content, and made it easier for you to find us elsewhere on the web. Please feel free to let me know what you think of the site, report any problems, or offer up any suggestions for future revisions.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Summer Wrap-up

And... curtain!

I'm pleased to report that with the close of Same Time, Next Year, this past Saturday at the Ennotville Library, Grinder Productions now has another summer season in the books. With seven shows in two venues, this was our largest, most diverse, most successful summer ever. And while I still have some work to do on the accounting end of things, I am sure enough about where we are to tell you that we have come out of this summer in a much, much better financial position than when we entered it, and that we will be able to continue operations into the fall on a reasonable financial footing. We're not completely out of the woods yet, of course and we will still have to be very, very careful in the weeks and months ahead, but I'm feeling confident about where the company is sitting right now, and where it is heading.

I'd like to say a great big thank-you too all the directors, actors, technicians, and volunteers who helped make this summer a reality. Time and time again people stepped up, stepped in, and went above and beyond the call of duty to make a show happen. This summer we saw some of the best production values and performances that we've ever had at Grinder, and we've got a great basis on which to make things even better over the fall and winter, and in the 2009 summer season.

Those of you who know me know that I hesitate to use words like "quality" and "professionalism" when talking about shows - they are both quite subjective terms. As the world's greatest girlfriend keeps reminding me, sometimes what one person things is garbage the next person thinks is the greatest thing since sliced bread, so perhaps what I think is a good performance would be seen as a lousy performance by someone else, and something so jarring to me that it ruins an entire show would go unnoticed by another audience member.

Nonetheless, I think everyone can agree that, no matter how good or bad a given show may be, there is always some room for improvement. Next summer (and this fall, for that matter), I would like to focus my energy on making those improvements, so that the day will come when, even to the most discerning eye, the shows we do at Grinder Productions are on par with anything seen on the professional summer stock circuit or regional theatre scene. While we may never be able to compare with the money spent by the major players, we can match and perhaps sometimes even exceed the "quality" and "professionalism" of their performances.

I think we can do it. It can't make us any worse by trying to get better, no one is going to stop coming to our plays because they got better, so why not at least make the attempt?

Thanks again, everyone for a great summer. I'm already excited about next year. I hope you will be able to join us once again.