Ctrl-ART-Del is calling for a theatrical refresh in Haliburton County. The new company produces contemporary theatre for adults in their late teens to forties.
“Theatre companies have been asking the question “How do we get young people in seats” for as long as I can remember,” says Amy Leis, Ctrl-ART-Del’s production manager. “The reality is, young people have little place in most theatre companies, either onstage or in the audience. Companies aren’t programming with them in mind. You can offer student pricing to as many college kids as you want, but if the shows are all picked to appeal to their grandparents, most 20-year-olds aren’t going to bite. I can’t say I blame them.”
“We are building a space where young adults can take creative control with material picked specifically for them.”
Ctrl-ART-Del will produce contemporary shows only, written no earlier than the 2000s. They will prioritize hiring young local actors and technicians for all productions. The goal is to provide opportunities for young adults to find arts work and put down roots in their own community.
“I did my professional theatre training in Toronto because there weren’t local options,” said Leis. “Now that I’ve graduated, I want to be able to work in my own town. Ctrl-ART-Del gives me the chance to do so.”
Artists in their 20s and 30s make up Ctrl-ART-Del’s core team, but they have an established actor, Tim Nicholson, on board to mentor them and teach them the ropes.
Nicholson sees Ctrl-ART-Del as a need, not a want, for the community. The training of new young artists to carry the banner of theatre in Haliburton County is vital. Nicholson worked as both a carpenter and as a professional actor and producer. He also spent time as a guest artist for Canadore College’s theatre school. When he retired from carpentry, he realized that there was no one coming up behind him.
“I have no apprentices to pass it all on to. My knowledge is going to die with me,” Nicholson said. “And there’s nothing I can do about it. That door has closed. But theatre…. Theatre, I can still do something about.”
He is mentoring the Ctrl-ART-Del team on the ins and outs of production. He will also sit in the director’s chair for their first production, the Canadian premiere of Cherubs. Nicholson says that Cherubs, an irreverent black comedy that was first workshopped in the UK in 2021, is the perfect fit for Ctrl-ART-Del.
“Cherubs is a very funny play that looks at religion from a unique point of view,” said Nicholson. “Two disgraced guardian angels, exiled to Earth for insubordination, are drawn into a plan to blackmail their way back into heaven. With nods to Terry Pratchett and Martin McDonagh, this play will have the viewer laughing at one moment, and somberly reflecting the next.”
“It’s both wickedly entertaining and challenging. It should be a welcome refresh for audiences who prefer their theatre without fluff,” Nicholson joked. “There are guardian angels, but it’s definitely not ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’.”
Cherubs plays at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion on Friday, March 31st at 7:30 PM and Saturday, April 1st at 2:00 PM. For tickets and more information, go to ctrlartdel.ca. You can also follow @ctrlartdel.ca on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok.