This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the first summer youth production staged by the Grey Wellington Theatre Guild (GWTG).
Full disclosure here, I’m a guild member (even an occasional actor) and three members of my family are involved with the production of Nothing Happened Here, set to run July 27, 28 and 28 at the Harriston Town Hall Theatre. So if this comes off as a shameless plug, hey, at least it’s a break from the near-weekly critiques of Doug Ford’s latest blunders that seem to be required writing these days.
From my admittedly-biased perspective, I would call the GWTG’s annual youth shows a genuine small-town success story. The format involves tailoring the script of the play to fit the numbers (often 20 or more) who turn out for auditions. Every youth from six to 18 is offered a part. There’s no charge for the program and the youths get to work with experienced guild members as they have fun learning what’s involved in a live theatre production. Over the years, numerous parents have commented about how pleased they were to find a youth activity outside the limited array typically offered in small communities.
The summer youth effort has been running long enough that a number of the youngsters who got their first stage experience through the program have graduated to participation in regular GWTG shows and the kids involved regularly turn out for guild musical productions. Often their parents end up becoming further involved with the local theatre troupe as well.
GWTG founder, the late Patrick C. Smith, used to refer to the program as “the farm team” – a pretty apt description.
The program culminates in a three-show run of a high-calibre locally-written stage play – this year a quirky mystery/comedy – which is where the young cast members, mostly from Minto, Mapleton and Wellington North, have their chance to shine. While the audience is generally heavy on friends and family, the shows are open to all. Tickets are a family-friendly $5, the theatre is accessible and air-conditioned and just by being in the audience, you’re contributing to the experience for group of youthful actors who have been honing their craft for months.
You can find more information at greywellingtontheatre.com.