Well Fools fans, it’s November. And with that comes longer nights, colder temperatures, and (everyone’s favourite) snowfall predictions. So, we’d like to warm your hearts with news on all of our foolish activities.
Below you’ll find a report on our Torchlight tour of Romeo + Juliet, an update on our new outreach program, and information on our beloved Sound of Music Sing-a-Long this December.
Stay warm and stay Foolish!
This summer marked our 17th Torchlight Shakespeare in the Park tour and boy was it a big one!
Our production of Romeo + Juliet spent seven weeks visiting audiences from Kanata to Orleans and everywhere in between, presenting 43 shows across the National Capital Region.
We’re proud to announce that over 9000 patrons decided to spend a summer evening in the park with us, marking a 27% increase in Torchlight attendance from 2018.
This increase in attendance wouldn’t be possible without the 21 community and neighbourhood associations we partnered with this summer.
Volunteer-run, community-mandated organizations across the region worked with us to organize pre and post show events, specific to their community. Face painting, yoga lessons on the stage, community fairs, a beer garden, and countless BBQs made our production of Romeo + Juliet more than just a play in many neighbourhoods.
We also noticed that our audience surveys reported a spike in the attendance of young patrons with children, many of whom reported that they grew up with the Fools. Our organization’s ability to span multiple generations is a testament to the support we receive from patrons such as yourself.
From all of us at the Fools, thank you another triumphant summer.
Five years of partnership with the Ottawa Mission inspires a new program
Summer 2019 marked the 5 year anniversary of a Company of Fools’ partnership with the Ottawa Mission. Every year we present a free 20-minute preview of our Torchlight production to the Ottawa Mission’s clients.
The goal of this preview is to let those who use the Ottawa Mission’s resources know that they are welcome at our performances. Over the years, a handful of the Mission’s clients have come to visit our shows in the parks, many of whom stop by our Front of House tent to say ‘hi.’
Our organization prides itself on being accessible to all patrons. For us, “accessible” refers to the conditions surrounding our performances.
Can’t afford a ticket? Our shows are pay-what-you-can. Can’t make it downtown? Our tour comes to a park in your backyard. Can’t get a babysitter? Bring your child along. You can even bring your dog, cat, or parrot to our shows (if you think we haven’t had cats at our shows, then check out our twitter).
This is a mandate that we’re pretty proud of.
However, there are still a large number of conditions that can prevent potential patrons from accessing our programming. Restrictions on transportation, internet services, literacy, and mobility are all factors that might make Shakespeare in the park seem like it’s not for you.
So this summer, inspired by our 5 year anniversary with the Ottawa Mission, we decided to pilot a new program.
On Wednesday afternoons our actors put on their indoor shoes, visited a variety of facilities across town, and brought some of the joy we spread in parks to those who might have a hard time reaching us.
We partnered with other shelters, including those which serve women and families. We partnered with OCISO which provides integration services (such as language classes and employment services) to new Canadians. And we partnered with a non-profit retirement facility.
And the results seem promising: 220 patrons participated in the program, and 90% of participants we surveyed reported they would attempt to attend a show in park after seeing our preview.
“I haven’t been able to go to theatre in 20 years,” one patron said softly to our actors during a Q&A from the back of a cafeteria. “Thank you for visiting us today.”
“Having the Fools come and perform at The Mission is something we really look forward to every year. Access to Arts in the community has such a positive impact on our clients who have limited opportunity to enjoy theatre.”
-Kathy Cillis, Education Lead at the Ottawa Mission
We believe that community based initiatives have the potential to advance the practice of theatre: if the point of our art form is to spark conversations about the world we inhabit, then the more people are able to engage with an art form, the bigger the conversation becomes.
If you are involved with an organization that serves people who have limited access to arts and culture experiences, or if you just want to know about this new program, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Sound of Music and Future Fundraisers
On a sadder note, we regret to inform you that we won’t be able to host our annual Sound of Music Sing-a-Long this December at the Mayfair Theatre.
Devastatingly, Disney has acquired the rights to 20th Century Fox, and has denied our requests to show this title. You can read more about how this development is affecting the Mayfair Theatre in this CBC article.
Now we’re on the hunt for a film that will replace the universal love people have for Sound of Music. But before we make a decision, we’d like to hear from you!
Follow this link to a Google Form where you can vote on your choice for a family friendly musical.
Thank you so much for everything, and we’ll keep you updated as things develop!