GUYSBOROUGH - The next chapter in the rich history of Mulgrave Road Theatre could include a new location.
During its monthly meeting in November, Municipality of the District of Guysborough Warden Vernon Pitts indicated they were closer to purchasing the former NSLC building in the county from the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal (TIR).
After paying the $1 price, municipal officials are planning to turn the building and property over to the cultural organization for the same amount.
“It didn’t come from out of nowhere,” Mulgrave Road Theatre artistic director Emmy Alcorn said of their possible new home.
She added theatre officials have been “very focussed” on infrastructure, as part of work on their “strategic vision” over the past couple years.
Alcorn agreed acquiring the location would provide the theatre with a much-needed “dedicated rehearsal space.”
“It is a challenge,” she said of not having a location in the community where they can prepare for a production – without having to move – for three weeks or more.
Alcorn added the theatre has been doing rehearsal development in Halifax, which she described as “certainly not ideal.”
“It is not how we want to work,” she noted.
For events that are expected to draw larger audiences – usually 100 people or more – the theatre has an ongoing partnership with the Chedabucto Place Performance Centre, which is located in Chedabucto Education Centre and Guysborough Academy.
The issue with that space – as mentioned – is availability, especially for any length of time consecutively.
At its Main Street location in Guysborough, there is a “small space,” as Alcorn called it, which can accommodate 30 or so people for script readings and other events.
Alcorn noted the theatre, for years, had tremendous access to the local Masonic Hall, which is now used as a storage space.
“We not only want to be part of the cultural community, but also economic development,” Alcorn said, in outlining the benefits a new location would provide.
A lot happening
Along with working on establishing a new physical home and other long-term strategic planning, Mulgrave Road Theatre continues its myriad contributions to the cultural community in not only Guysborough, but also Nova Scotia.
Alcorn said its third seniors’ engagement project – Generations Dance Club – is in full swing, an initiative that receives funding from the federal government.
“We do something every second year,” she noted.
As the theatre’s website describes – mulgraveroad.ca – the intergenerational project brings seniors and the community together in weekly sessions to participate in dance and self-expression, while promoting creativity, happiness, mental and physical wellbeing, and social engagement.
Participants learn square, line and jive dancing, with volunteers partners and musicians helping make the sessions possible.
Guysborough Options for Adaptive Living (GOAL), a vocational training centre for adults with special needs, provides nutrItious snacks for each session.
The Generations Dance Club carried out a successful flash mob for Halloween, while they will celebrate their final session with a Christmas dinner prepared by folks from the Royal Canadian Legion in Guysborough.
The sessions are staged at the Chedabucto Lifestyle Complex and Milford Home for Seniors in Guysborough.
“We have a great turnout each week and everyone has a fun time,” Alcorn said.
In the spring, she noted, the theatre will help stage the latest piece from Antigonish Ryanne Chisholm, a familiar face to theatre-goers in the region, including at Festival Antigonish Summer Theatre (FAST).
“We will be rolling that out,” Alcorn said of Oh hi, it’s me, a story centered on two lifelong friends.
Chisholm and Alcorn are collaborating on its development for the theatre.
Since 1976, Mulgrave Road Theatre has been “a center for new play development at the heart of Nova Scotia theatre,” a focus Alcorn said will continue; no matter where it is located.
With a new facility, she reiterated, there will be opportunities for new and expanded partnerships.
“We want it to be a cultural hub and not just a theatre,” she noted.
Alcorn added theatre officials want the potential new location to become “another cultural piece of the puzzle in Guysborough.”
In remarks of the recent council meeting on the subject, considering the time of year, Pitts predicted nothing would be finalized regarding the building and property until early in 2020.
“We are really close, which is not only pretty exciting, but also daunting,” Alcorn said.