Hello and welcome to the first edition of the Black Box Backdrop! In this biweekly column, I will be talking about all the work happening in the background that supports our excellent events – notes from board meetings, committees, etc.
Board Meeting Highlights: July 5th
Here are the highlights of what happened at our first board meeting:
We appointed each board member to the board-level roles. You can see the full list on the Board Page
We approved a budget maximum of $13,500 for the Show Control Committee to purchase the equipment and construction materials to expand and improve our tech booth.
We approved a form to be signed by company credit card holders going forward. The goal with this form is to ensure that all KWLT credit card holders understand their responsibilities with the cards, as well as the repercussions for abuse. Notably, this form is NOT being implemented as a response to a problem, but as a risk mitigation measure to help prevent future problems.
We discussed 2 inquiries from the production team of The Devil’s Disciple: when the production should go forward, and what COVID restrictions exist around rehearsal and performance.
The date for this production remains to-be-determined, as the Artistic Director is newly coming up-to-speed with our productions and will be more prepared to set dates at a later time.
The Board realized that they will need to create policies for rehearsals and performances in accordance with provincial rules in the transition out of the COVID-19 pandemic. A committee was formed to begin collecting information and bring a recommendation to the board, consisting of Nadia Ursacki, Todd Vercoe, and Monica Maika.
We discussed promotions for the Flash Madness event which occurred July 9-11, and took action to ensure it was shared out by the KWLT social media accounts.
We received a complaint from a member regarding holding the AGM despite the widespread power outages across Kitchener and Waterloo. We did not discuss this in depth, but noted it for future consideration should something similar happen in the future. Notably, the AGM still had enough attendance by our membership to achieve quorum for voting. Quorum at general meetings, per our bylaws, consists of members who are NOT Board Members, and must be at least the number of Board Members at the time the meeting is called minus one. There were eight board members at the time of the meeting, so quorum at the AGM was seven KWLT members who were not on the board (and there were 21).
We discussed the problem of not having anyone interested in the role of Communications Director. (While Matt Walsh helpfully took the title and is working hard to make sure the role is covered, he is not interested in the full role on a permanent basis.) Our hypothesis is that we may have more success were we to find a way to spread the load among a team of officers under the Communications Director. The Board created a committee to explore the problem more in-depth and present a recommendation, consisting of Matt Walsh, Elizabeth McFaul, and Colleen Daley.
Here are the current active committees, their mandates, and current status. If you are interested in joining/starting a committee or would like to provide input, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Show Control Committee
The Show Control Committee was established in the 2019-2020 season and was tasked with the analysis, planning, and execution of redesigning the KWLT tech booth. Currently, they are in the process of purchasing and gathering materials to begin the actual re-building of the booth.
Lobby Renewal Committee
The Lobby Renewal Committee has been ongoing for several years, and was tasked with the design and execution of re-designing the KWLT lobby to improve the experience of patrons and Box Office volunteers. A majority of the re-design has been completed, with only some signage and PPE (personal protective equipment) installation remaining.
Communications Role Committee
This committee was newly established at the July 5th board meeting, tasked with proposing a new breakdown of the Communications role & officers to the Board.
COVID Safety Policy Committee
This committee was newly established at the July 5th board meeting, tasked with proposing COVID safety policies for our productions & events, taking into account provincial and federal restrictions.
Next time in the Black Box Backdrop, I’ll be talking about some of the ‘miscellaneous’ projects happening around the theatre that I’m hoping to tackle over the next year. In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments, or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to me at email@example.com!
Nike Abbott: Nike is a native of Kitchener-Waterloo. Born to professors at the University of Waterloo, her name is the ancient Greek for victory inspired by the ionic temple Athena Nike at the Parthenon. And then there’s that damn shoe company. Sigh. She was 16 when the famous athletic wear giant unveiled their new slogan, “Just Do It”. Thanks. Thanks a lot. She has been called Puma, Reebok, Adidas, and Sneakers. No one outside Japan seems capable of pronouncing her name correctly on the first try. Her name is a damn conversation-starter whether she likes it or not. Does it sound pretentious to be named after an ancient Greek temple? Yep. Is it annoying that everyone thinks she’s named after a shoe? Somewhat. However, she likes the name and will not apologize for it.
Jimmy Chimarios: Jimmy caught the acting bug in 5th grade playing the role of Bailiff in the theatrical play “The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf”. He calls one of the interrupting pigs trying to make his case against the wolf a pompous pig and the crowd breaks out in laughter. Although many years have passed since this life changing moment Jimmy’s excitement to perform has grown by leaps and bounds. From small roles on Star Trek: Discovery, to kids shows like Odd Squad Mobile Unit and numerous movie of the week roles, Jimmy has now taken on a new challenge and has humbly accepted an ensemble role in a KWLT online virtual Soap Opera sponsored by the City of Waterloo. Much fun is to be had by this talented group of artists that are all trying something NEVER/RARELY BEEN DONE BEFORE! We truly hope you enjoy the show!!
Kirsty Federico: Kirsty Federico is delighted to be part of this latest KWLT production. Her previous role with KWLT was in The Tragedy of Mariam. Kirsty has now been part of KWLT for a year, and is enjoying being an active member in the group. Thank you to friends and family for being so supportive of my participation, and a very big thank you to the cast and crew for making this such an enjoyable experience!
Tara Howe: Tara is thrilled to be part of “All Around The Square”, her debut with KWLT. She is a graduate of the Second City conservatory program and has trained and performed with various improv groups in Toronto. Highlights include her solo improvised jazz show Gutbucket Cabaret, Cinderlad at the Toronto Fringe Festival, and competing as a semi-finalist in “Derringer’s Funniest Person With a Day Job” contest on Q107. Thanks to her boys, human and otherwise, for their support and encouragement throughout this project.
Bernie Roehl: Bernie has been acting and doing improv in the KW area for decades. He has appeared as King Bertram in the Royal Medieval Faire every year for almost a quarter of a century now and has performed improv live on Rogers Cable and on stage at venues large and small (including the Centre in the Square!). He has performed and directed for KWLT in years gone by and is happy to once again be involved with one of their productions. He’s thoroughly enjoying the experience of rehearsing and performing online with his very talented fellow cast members!
Laura Teskey: As a grade 7&8 teacher and mom of two teenagers, Laura has had plenty of opportunity to improvise on a daily basis. Over the past four years, she has taken this skill to a new level as a member of Theatre on the Edge Improv (Waterloo) and Community Comedy Project (Stratford). She continues to teach and direct school productions at a local elementary school. Laura would like to thank the talented cast and crew, her amazing family, and her awesome friends for supporting her in this endeavour – and not calling her ‘crazy’… too often.
Justin Turgeon: Justin is having a blast participating in the production of an online improv soap opera with KWLT. Justin has performed with improv troupes on stages in Kitchener, Guelph and Toronto, and collaborates virtually with improvisers all over the world. He is grateful for this opportunity to connect and create in this wonderfully weird way. He especially thanks his wife and cats for their cooperation in giving up half of their small apartment for filming space. He welcomes you to this one-of-a-kind show!
Leonard Zgrablic: Leonard is thankful to Peter Aitchison and KWLT for creating an opportunity to be involved in a show during the Blight, and especially for the chance to work with a talented and thoughtful ensemble. Leonard is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, and is perpetually attending the school of life, which is far more rewarding but also far more costly. Life is best improvised. The unexpected twists and turns are amazing, as is where they lead and what they bring. His performance is dedicated to all those he has crossed paths with in KW, during both eras of his residence here and beyond. Water water water!
“Fall, then figure out what to do on the way down” — Del Close
“Several times in biological evolution animals become crabs” — Something Peter said in rehearsal.
I think Del has the better quote here.
Peter has been a student of Improv for most of his life. Active study at the Second City Training Centre in Toronto was preceded by a childhood of making something from nothing. Never afraid to jump into a situation and make something of it; this is how he ended up directing this project. Pulling from thoughts and ideas on how to remain active and engaged in the hard winter of 2021, Peter said Yes AND to this project…. and began to figure out what to do on the way down.
Trying to find common ground from the traditional theatre experience, while working with individual actors over ZOOM, has been a great learning curve. At the time of writing, Peter is still working out the unique challenges of creating an improvised piece, with an ensemble cast, and presenting it to the world, without coming within 6 feet of the actors and production team.
Peter wants to thank all those who jumped off the cliff with him, volunteering hundreds of hours, to figure this one out on the way down. When we land, we land together.
Joe Gull (Assistant Director): Joe is thrilled to be involved in KWLT’s online improv production. You may recognize Joe from such past roles as Constabarus in KWLT’s radio production of The Tragedy of Miriam, Liam in TCP’s production of Calendar Girls, Quasimodo’s Gargoyle in TCP’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, and as Bill Sikes in TCP’s Oliver. Joe wishes to thank his high school drama teacher Bill Cook for teaching him everything he knows about stage performance and getting him involved, all the great people he has come to know through theater, and finally Odin the Allfather. Enjoy the show!
Paul Budel (Technical Manager): Though new to the theatre community, Paul Budel’s has spent decades on a different type of stage as an active part of Ontario’s music scene. When not busy with his kids, he can be found walking his dog, thinking about pizza, or wishing Jurassic Park was real.
Monica Maika (Production Manager): Monica is happy to be involved behind the scenes for KWLT’s online foray into improv. She has been involved with KWLT on-stage, in front of house, and in the green room since moving to KW in 2018. She is now on the board of directors and enjoyed the opportunity to be involved in any kind of theatre during the pandemic. Thank you to Peter for getting me involved in the project and opening up my eyes to the work involved in improv and the wonderful worlds it can open. Congratulations should also go out to the cast for doing online improv, where we’ve added the additional challenge that you can’t actually see your scene partner while recording. Thank you all for your patience, determination, raw talent, and the amount of laughs you’ve created during the rehearsal process.
Abigale Johnson (Technical Editor): Abigale is a media student at Conestoga College, Kitchener. She has had a keen interest in being part of the entertainment world since her teens, and KWLT is an excellent platform for her to explore her talent. Having worked in a different industry and taking a break to support her family, Abigale now finds great encouragement at KWLT. A big thanks to my family for all the support to pursue my dreams. Mostly give gratitude to Nancy Richards Abigale’s professor at Conestoga College for sharing the opportunity to be a part of the production team at KWLT.
Mathieu Preston (Technical Editor): Mathieu is making his KWLT debut as an editor for the online improv productions. Mathieu has been performing since high school and is planning to pursue musical theatre in the future. Selected performance credits include Beast – Beauty and the Beast, Drew Boley- Rock of Ages (SBCSS Drama), Mr. Fezziwig – Christmas Carol: Radio Musical, Boo-tube, Yule-tube and From the Heart Cabarets (Penny & Pound Productions) and KW Glee. I’d like to thank Rob Curwain, Peter Aitchison and Paul Budel for this incredible opportunity, Sebastian Cristancho for helping me improve my editing chops during quarantine and my parents who always support my work whether it’s on or off stage. Enjoy improv at its finest!
Rob Curwain (Technical Editor): Although Rob was not able to continue the project past the rehearsal stage, he was invaluable to the development of our technical process and development of our first trailers. Rob was thrilled to be involved with KWLT for the first time, and even more so to be a part of their online improv production. You may recognize Rob from his various roles with Ichthys Theatre Productions, in plays such as “A Dickens of a Time” and “Before the Prequel: Dawning Inception”. While Rob may be new to the world of improv, he’s always got something to say at a moment’s notice, be it funny or not. Not to mention that he’s always looking for a script to go along with the improvised scenes. A big thanks to everyone for putting up with him so far, and to his feet for keeping him on the right path. Enjoy the show!
Nicole Beer (Technical Editor): While Nicole was unable to continue with the project past the rehearsal stage, we would like to thank her for her time and effort during the early post-production trials and tribulations. Nicole is happy to violetear for the online improv production by KWLT. She’s a student at Conestoga college and member of the editing team for this production. Nicole was contacted through her Television and film production program and was happy to help.
Anne-MarieLemieux (Rehearsal Technical Editor): While Anne-Marie was unable to continue with the project past the rehearsal stage, we would like to thank her for her time and research during the early post-production trials and tribulations. Anne-Marie is a server/bartender with a background in theatre, pivoting into the technical world of film editing and production. She was excited to discover this opportunity to work with KWLT in a remote production, eagerly absorbing new skills. It’s been a pleasure for her to collaborate with this community.