Happy 2010

... time passing, funding receding, new challenges approaching ... CELEBRATION!

Happy New Year, all! 2009 has been an incredibly full year, full of challenges and opportunities! I cannot help but feel a overwhelming flood of emotion, pride and genuine appreciation for the passion, fortitude and individual resources that everyone involved in the arts has brought to bear in the face of financial hardships and cuts to funding, personal strife and unforeseen setbacks. The show must go on! And go on it did. Bard on The Bandstand: Romeo and Juliet was entered in the Fraser Valley zone festival, toured Chilliwack and Langley, as well as being workshopped by Dean Paul Gibson at Mainstage before the main event in Memorial Peace Park in Maple Ridge. Even a storm of "Tempest" proportions could not dissuade our audience from staying as long as they could to see the show.

TheatreBC's 9 day provincial Drama Festival - MAINSTAGE - co-chaired by Kathleen Hatley and myself, presented a great personal challenge. With an amazing team of Emerald Pig supporters, the festival, whose theme was "Go Green With Sharon and Kathleen" received critical acclaim for promoting the goals of sustainability, reducing waste and the impact on the environment, while maintaining high standards for a provincial event of MAINSTAGE's caliber. Participants came from throughout the province and across the Lower Mainland to take in shows, workshops, share and visit and talk theatre with colleagues and old friends. The adjudicators, Andrew McIllroy and Ted Roberts, shared their knowledge and humor and packed the Pitt Hall every morning and Green Rooms late at night. Truly, MAINSTAGE was the best party of the summer! As everyone knows, however, none of this could have been accomplished without a huge team of volunteers. Edna Bell, and her "lacky" Aaron Davis, did an amazing job of coordinating the volunteers and running the MAINSTAGE office on a daily basis. Funding and manpower support from the District of Maple Ridge and the City of Pitt Meadows, particularly the support of Darlene Slevin, the staff at the ACT and Daniel Mikolay from the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society, along with interns Marina and Chelsea. A big thank you to the Fraser Valley Zone and in particular to Mary Renvall and the Langley Players for their sponsorship, volunteer crew and creativity they brought to the green rooms every night! I would be remiss if I did not also give an early morning sleepy nod to John and Sylvia Hewitt for their bright-eyed and bush-tailed organization of the coffee critiques every morning. It's impossible to name everyone who helped and supported this event - but please know that your contributions were not unnoticed and that you are all held dearly in our hearts and memories. Please check out the TheatreBC MAINSTAGE 2009 webpage for photos and join us in Kamloops for MAINSTAGE 2010.

Emerald Pig gave birth to another small independent piglet this year - Sweet Sorrow Productions. Chris Cope (Romeo) and Amber Inglis (Juliet) starred in CATCH, a one act play that was entered in Actoberfest and travelled to Creston. Amber was awarded Best Actress and we had one of the best roadtrip parties ever with Carole and Jeffrey ... and the Sasquatch! You can CATCH more performances of this award-winning production, when it partners with Fine Whine Productions, presenting a collection of monologues. An Evening of Fine Whine and Sweet Sorrow runs February 19 and 20 at Presentation House in North Vancouver and on March 5 and 6 at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. Tickets will be available soon through the venues websites.

Our stock and trade fall production of dinner theatre did not disappoint! Rumors by Neil Simon, directed by Aaron Davis and produced by Jennifer Slauenwhite, gave everyone what they needed and wanted most - great food (thanks to Louise Manseau and Star Five Catering!), great entertainment and the opportunity to laugh in the face of adversity! A fantastic pub night fundraiser in October helped to ease the pain of the funding cuts and kept this fabulous event in the black. Cheers to everyone involved!

In addition to the main productions, Emerald Pig's presence in the community was also felt and seen at various events, including Earth Day, Canada Day, Heritage Day, the Farmer's Market, the Historical Society Christmas party, the Santa Claus Parade and Christmas Festival in the Park, and the Christmas Haven. Our efforts have supported the Friends in Need Food Bank, the Salvation Army, and the community as a whole. “The arts are the soul of the community and visitors as well as residents will be attracted to such a healthy community.”

As I was reflecting on what Emerald Pig has accomplished, where we are as an organization and what we need to do to achieve our goals in the future, I keep thinking about how many people we have in our database of contacts (over 500). From this point of view, we are a healthy community, keeping in touch with our supporters, theatre goers and arts enthusiasts. We have good relationships with many other theatre groups throughout the lower mainland and the province, an award-winning website (thanks to Jeffrey Love!) and a presence on Facebook. Our digital network is strong and our business sponsors are proud of the work we do. These are accomplishmennts to be celebrated and at a time when the economic picture is a little bleak and we are uncertain about the future, we NEED to celebrate! So please help us celebrate this year!  Call, write, email, blog, Facebook ... tell us what you think, what you like, what you want ... You are the "U" in commUnity theatre!

Next season is in the planning stages NOW. If you have a great idea for a play, fundraising event, dinner theatre, or a side show, email us at emeraldpig@theatrebc.org or call 604-476-1984. We'd love to here from you! If you belong to another community group and think there is a good fit for an event and we can help each other, bring it on!

Come out for auditions and support Bard on the Bandstand: The Tempest. We're going to need dancers, fairies, nymphs, musicians, performers, many men (as always!), and many hands behind the scenes. Call me (604-476-1984) or email emeraldpig@theatrebc.org for information about the auditions and stay tuned for more information about the first production meeting (February).

The EPTS executive is currently looking for members for the board of directors. An organization is only as strong as its members make it. Emerald Pig has tremendous potential and a strong core, but an organization always needs new ideas and human energy to sustain it and help it grow. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has served on the board of directors in the past and invite new members to consider the opportunity to give something back. Our meetings are lively, fun and sometimes dramatic! There is always a "project" in the works and money is always a key issue. If you have theatrical interests, skills in marketing, publicity, event planning, bookkeeping or other related abilities, consider spending some quality time with Emerald Pig! CELEBRATE THE ARTS!

Joy, peace and all the best to you and your piglets in 2010!


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