Welcome to The Rural Root Theatre Company (RRTC), West Carleton’s community theatre group. This information page is designed to accelerate your understanding of what the RRTC is about, how we do business, and introduce you to some of the traditions and culture of community theatre. In so doing, we hope it makes it easier to become comfortable as a member of this energetic troupe.
Theatre, like almost any other area of life, has its own vocabulary and traditions. To assist those new to theatre, we have provided a glossary at the end of this document. Please read it to get a better understanding of the terms we’ll use during rehearsals and our production run.
What is Community Theatre?
The term community theatre is used where theatrical performances are in, for and by a community, with and without professional assistance. It therefore covers a wide range of theatrical organisations. It has become a preferred phrase over “amateur theatre” which some believed had a second class ring to it.
Our Community is West Carleton. That is where we perform, and the majority of our members, whether they are active actors or crew or patrons, live in West Carleton.
Where did RRTC start?
Listen to the President’s speech to the membership at the 10th anniversary party, November 1 2014:
There was a great deal of work done in the early days of Rural Root Theatre to have things the way they are today. Rural Root’s first production, Council Chamber Capers, was held (where else?) at the former township council chambers (now the Client Service Centre at Kinburn (KCC) in the Spring of 2005. The City was planning to change the rules about who could use the KCC. At the same time, theatre people in West Carleton were traveling to Arnprior or Kanata to participate in community theatre. Helen and Martin Weeden were approached with the idea of staging a production to see if the KCC would be a good spot for a theatre.
Rural Root – a play on the term Rural Route, as in a postal address – was the name Helen came up with to reflect the country setting, traditions and growth of the group. The Rural Root logo was designed by Carolyn Eastman, a secretary at the former Fitzroy Centennial School in Kinburn. David Tait, of L-D Tool and Die Inc., donated $500.00 as seed money to get the company started.
The short timeframe we were given (6 weeks) made it a bit of a hard sell, but the talent in West Carleton rose to the challenge. People like Bruce Buie, Valerie Jorgensen, Roy Ballantine and Marion Pogson all tossed their hats in. Helen even had two plays of her own, The Madness of Moose and Mosquitoes and To Bear or Not to Bear, ready to stage for the first time. Then, there was the West Carleton School of Performing Arts, led by Melissa Demers, agreeing to bring its talented youth to the stage. Glenda and Alan Jones of Almonte also presented a short play.
Lights and draperies were borrowed or rented. The performance ran out of chairs on closing night!! And so RRTC was born – and had to keep going!
RRTC quickly outgrew the client centre location and accepted an offer from Ian Glen, the President of the Constance and Buckham’s Bay Community Association (CBBCA), to stage their productions at the Community Centre, which had recently upgraded its audio and stage lighting system.
This arrangement has worked very well, as many of the members were originally from the community. But now actors, as well as audiences, draw from all over West Carleton and further.
RRTC has made many improvements to the CBBCA facility so everything looks and works more like a theatre should, from painting the stage walls and ceiling black to acquiring and installing the fireproof black velvet curtains and a stage front skirt. The Main Hall walls were modified to accommodate mounting of the archive displays, and additional exits and entrances to the stage with new doors and sets of stairs were added. The numbered chair covers were manufactured so the reserved seating process could be implemented. The website was started and upgraded to allow online booking and seat selection. Martin Weeden designed and built the intercom and stage manager’s headset system. Roy Ballantine made the tech table and the makeup mirrors and, with Ian Glen and others, installed the stage lighting support system and power circuits.
And so we come to today, when RRTC has built a solid reputation in the Ottawa area for good quality amateur theatre.
RRTC Mission, Goals and Objectives
When we began in 2005, our main mission was to: Provide a local, theatrical home for all the talent that passes through or leaves West Carleton. Please refer to the first few pages of the By-Laws as we have expanded our mission and objectives in much more detail.
In summary, RRTC is all about theatre! The passion, the drive, our work, our skills, our energy, our funds, our facilities – indeed, all we do has one goal: To develop our company to be the best it can be in all aspects of theatre.
And we aim to do so:
- By providing opportunities for each of our members to learn, experience, experiment, practice, and perform in the cast, crew or functional role of their choice.
- With our full and collective support via training, coaching, and opportunity.
- By presenting to our patrons and sponsors a continually improving quality of production and performance.
All the stated goals continue to serve us well – a growing membership plus audience base, and a spreading reputation for high-quality, well-organized and polished productions. We have done all of this by sharing our experience and that brought from other theatre groups, teaching ourselves the tricks of the trades, paying attention to the details and investing our time, effort and cash as best we can to create and improve what we do on stage. We hope you will enjoy doing the same!
Structure and Governance
RRTC is a registered not-for-profit corporation and operates under the laws of Ontario. It is run by a duly elected Management Board of 9 directors who oversee the administration and programs of the corporation. It is governed by a set of By-Laws, and run with specific policies and operating procedures set by the Board. These documents are made available on the RRTC website and it is recommended that all members make themselves familiar with them. The various roles of the Board members are defined in the By-Laws.
RRTC and CBBCA
RRTC is a program sponsored by the Constance and Buckham’s Bay Community Association. This symbiotic relationship brings benefits – and some restrictions – to both parties. The CBBCA provides subsidised rehearsal and performance space, while the RRTC has upgraded the CBBCA facilities which can be used by the community. In addition to providing the Centre for rehearsals and performances, RRTC accesses insurance, a licensed bar and other benefits through the CBBCA. This relationship does, however, impose some restrictions on the RRTC operations in terms of space and meeting any City of Ottawa requirements under which the CBBCA is run. In order to qualify for the insurance coverage, all participants must be registered members of RRTC and as such will become members of the CBBCA when the required fee is paid.
Community theatre is a team sport! A production requires teamwork and commitment. If you participate in any way, you may be sure that others are depending on your role and therefore a commitment is required. Should you be unable to fulfill your commitment, you must inform the performance management team as soon as possible so that they can organise substitutions.
All RRTC activity is run by volunteer members, who often put in many hours to make things run smoothly. We encourage all members to participate in a range of activities. We expect members to turn out for setting up sets (assembly, painting), setting up the auditorium (chairs, etc.) running lights or sound, assisting with costumes, doing Front of House, striking the set, etc.
There is an Artistic Director on the board whose job it is to search out and find candidate plays. This Director will normally hold play reading sessions which any member can participate in. Following the readings, the readers will give their opinion on its suitability. The director will then bring the short list of candidate plays to the Board for final selection and approval. Any member can bring a play idea to the Board via the Artistic Director.. On some occasions a member will bring forward a play idea that he/she wants to direct. A full set of procedures for this process is available.
Every production requires a cast. Recruiting a cast begins with advertising the forthcoming production and prompting people to step forward at (usually) one of two audition dates and times. Any special instructions, such as “come prepared with a song or monologue,” will be provided on our website. If your audition impresses the Director, you may be ‘called back’ to a separate session where final cast selections can be made. Attending an audition and assisting the Director will be: Stage Manager, Producer and other interested members of RRTC. Cast selections are entirely up to the Director (with input from others) and are determined by him/her based on your best fit with the particular role, as envisioned by the Director.
RRTC’s democratic process requests applications via the ‘volunteer form’ (found on members’ page at www.ruralroot.org) for anyone interested in working as a crew member. The Producer and Director will select their crew members from the accumulated volunteers according to their expressed interests and experience. Most often, insufficient applications are received and we resort to one-on-one contact, usually to those people who have done the job before. The outcome is a loss of opportunity to other members. Lesson: if you want to learn more about theatre – apply for crew positions promptly and online. This will also make life much easier for the Producer.
When you accept a role in a play, you must fully understand the rehearsal schedule and promptly inform the Stage Manager of any conflicts you may have. We expect you to make yourself available for all rehearsals that you are scheduled to attend. Your absence not only affects your development, but that of your fellow cast members. Rehearsal time is precious and must start on time – so arrive early. If you will miss a rehearsal due to emergency or mishap, promptly contact the Stage Manager or Director via telephone so that the rehearsal can be re-planned.
The RRTC is all about bringing live theatre to the community, and currently this is done through two shows: one in the spring and the other in the fall. These productions are put together by a team that comprises the management team (generally the Producer, Stage Manager and Director), the actors and the technical and support crew. The numbers differ from one play to another, but typically a performance can require the services of 30 to 40 people so there are plenty of ways to get involved. Between productions, other activities occur and include researching, reading and selecting plays; planning auditions; training courses or workshops; set, lighting and sound design preparations; equipment procurement and installation.
Successful productions are those that entertain the paying patrons, fill the seats, provide the participants with challenges and fun, and maintain the highest standard of amateur theatre. Our goal is to strike a balance between striving to present the very best – and constantly improving our performance. We also want to allow those who are new to theatre the opportunity to participate and hone their skills – whether it be backstage or acting and singing activities.
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