The party hasn’t started yet but members of PEI theatre group, ACT (a community theatre), are already looking to 2020—the 25th anniversary.
ACT’s website states that the organization was formed in 1995 “by a group of dedicated, theatre-loving individuals on Prince Edward Island.” Today many of those same individuals are still actively involved. The Buzz talked to Gerry Gray, who served as ACT President for its first five years. Gerry remembers that the earliest discussions of the need for a community theatre group took place in 1993 during rehearsals for Hank Stinson’s play Blue Castle. Finally a decision was made in 1995 during a read-through for a planned production of Our Town. David Sherren from the Confederation Centre had been asked by Gerry to direct the play, and as those involved gathered at Gerry’s house, you could say ACT became a reality.
Meanwhile, other theatre-loving individuals were having similar thoughts. ACT’s founding Director of Theatre, Terry Pratt, recalls sending an email from abroad to Rob Thompson (current organizer of the PEI Theatre Festival) on PEI about this need for a PEI theatre group. Rob told Terry about Our Town, and soon Terry joined the gang. Terry has directed many ACT productions including the Gilbert & Sullivans, and two of the four Shakespeare in the Park productions, Trial by Jury, The Dining Room, School for Scandal, and numerous others.
Successful productions aside, Terry Pratt points to the organizational strength of ACT, with its board of directors and constitution, as a reason for its longevity and growth.
Although not a founding member, Brenda Porter has played a major role with ACT as a producer, beginning with the production at the Summerside Courthouse of Trial by Jury. Amongst other productions, Brenda also produced Doubt at St. Paul’s Church in Charlottetown. She says that ACT has made a big difference to PEI by producing serious works, Wit, for example, that engaged the community, as well staging popular musical theatre shows like Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar.
ACT members and other Island theatre-lovers can look ahead to 2020 for new ACT -productions and celebrations.