MINTY: August auditions for important Surrey theatre groups

SURREY — Attention everyone!

I hope I have gotten your interest – at least, the interest of anyone who would like to be involved with live theatre.

It is a tough way to make a living for sure but, lucky for us, community theatre is provides abundant opportunities for anyone who has an interest in creating theatre magic. Community theatre involves volunteers and amateurs. Most people are not paid, even the directors, although there may be a small honorarium involved. Don’t expect to get rich or even famous by your participation. Put in lots of time, work hard and the most you can hope for is being part of a play or musical that gets stage time. Applause.

No secret that I have been involved with the Fraser Valley Gilbert & Sullivan Society for many, many years. This family-oriented theatre club has a tradition of involving families in their productions. I have most of my close friends through association with this group. Occasionally they let me be on stage. This proves that anyone can do – you just have to be willing to work hard, take direction and learn as you go along.

Working together as a team – family or not – is a huge positive contribution to an individual’s life skills and presents to the community at large some pretty darn good live-theatre experiences without the huge cost of professional theatre. Affordable.

Professional theatre has value, too. Of course. But somehow it is a bit easier to hire the talent than rely on volunteer labour.

And now, your community theatre groups need you. The annual general meeting for the FVG&S society is on Sunday, Aug. 16 in the Arbor Room at Valleyview Funeral Home in Newton. Check out the details on the website, Auditions for the panto "Jack and the Beanstalk" are at the end of August. Get involved.

And congratulations to the G&S Society for the first-place award, "Novelty Float" category, at the White Rock Sea Festival Torchlight Parade last Sunday. Many hours of construction went into the building of this float, with the lion’s share of creation done by Mike Balser and Tim Tucker.

Did you see the parade? Mike and Tim are the directors for "Jack and The Beanstalk," which will be staged this fall. Mike, currently president of the society, says it is not about winning awards – but it sure feels nice to be recognized for your work. Great feeling.

I know a lot of you theatre people out there would love to move to the professional arena. That takes some training, as well as talent and dedication. Peninsula Productions has hired Simon Johnston to direct a staged reading version of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream," by William Shakespeare. This will include 10 hours of an acting master class, 24 hours of rehearsal and one staged reading in front of an audience. This will be a wonderful experience for the actors chosen to be involved, and there will be two spots available in the acting troupe.

Johnston has worked in Canadian theatre for more than 30 years, as an artistic director, director (200-plus productions) and playwright. He was awarded the Governor General’s Canada 125 Medal, has been nominated for the prestigious W.O. Mitchell Literary Prize and was inducted into McMaster University’s Alumni Gallery. Simon is currently the artistic director emeritus of Gateway Theatre in Richmond. But it is not really about the awards. It is all about the experience.

You have to audition to be chosen for this workshop. The time commitment is on Saturday, Aug. 22 from 1 to 6 p.m. (Shakespeare Master class), on Sunday, Aug. 23 from 2 to 7 p.m. (Shakespeare Master class), Monday through Thursday (Aug. 24 to 27, 4 to 10 p.m.) for rehearsals, Friday, Aug. 28 from 4 to 6 p.m. for preparation, then 7 p.m. for the staged reading in front of audience. Full details are posted here.

If you would like to be considered, send your picture and resume (ASAP) to This could be a great step up to a career in the performing arts. After all, the difference between "good" and "great" is a little extra effort.

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