By Tam Davis
Knowlton Players has had its mettle tested. “Following our successful spring 2019 season featuring our rousing Mamma Mia production at the theatre and Love those Genes at Knowlton Pub, we were eager to celebrate our 30th anniversary in 2020,” said Juli Peasley, their president. “But over the last fifteen months we had to overcome many challenges.” Fortunately the troupe has a long history of ensuring that the show goes on.
“Founded in 1984 by Emma Stevens as Brome Lake Actors, in 1990 we became Knowlton Players, a not for profit theatre with a mission to support community causes,” said the president. “We are self-financing with over 330 members, receive no grants, keep our costs and ticket prices low. Over 30 years we have produced 88 plays and donated over $150,000 for scholarships and good causes. Every year we give awards to Massey-Vanier high school graduates who have acted in Knowlton Players performances. We make grants to schools, like Massey-Vanier, Knowlton Academy and Waterloo Elementary School to support the arts in general. We make a donation to the BMP Hospital Foundation. The cast of the Knowlton Pub dinner theatre give their tips to various charities.”
Rescue of costumes
In August 2019 the troupe had to move their vast costume collection stored at Waterloo Elementary School which required the space for a new classroom. Enter Glen Whitehead, president of Proconstruc and Entreposage Victoria. “Glen provided a 30 foot trailer to transport and store the costumes until the coming season, without any charge. Fourteen Knowlton Players volunteers loaded the trailer,” said Katherine Jacques, theatre board member and an employee of Mr. Whitehead. Sadly, early in 2020 the corona virus epidemic ensured there would be no theatre in 2020. Glen Whitehead needed his trailer, and Knowlton Players needed heated storage. His generous solution: convert an unheated unit to a heated, electrified, metered unit, share costs 50/50; rent the unit at a reduced rate.The deal was struck, the work done and the costumes transferred into the new unit in June 2020.
Rescues of props
In September 2019 Glen Whitehead supplied a van to move the small props from the old bookstore near Knowlton’s gazebo to Margot Allen’s ‘Eureka’ premises, steps away from the theatre. Knowlton Players volunteers erected shelving supplied by Margot Allen.
The troupe celebrated their efforts and its 30th anniversary at a casual, well-received annual general meeting held via Zoom on June 28th, 2020; dinner was delivered at home to 40 people. Viviene Grenier was honoured as Star of the Year for 2019.
Now they are busy preparing for 2021, if the COVID relents:
• Who’s in Bed with the Butler? in May, directed by Danny McAuley;
• God of Carnage in September, directed by J.P. Livingston;
• The Best Christmas Pageant Ever in November, directed by Jessica Brown.
The shutdown brought precious time to reflect on the future, prepare internal manuals, canvas members for ideas for 2022 and bring in children to pique their interest in theatre generally. May Knowlton Players continue to flourish and pay it forward.