CONSTANCE BAY – For the first time in the Rural Root Theatre Company’s (RRTC) history, the theatre troupe will be performing on a brand-new stage, thanks to, well the RRTC.
For the last several weeks RRTC members have been installing a new stage floor at their theatre in El-Chantiry Hall in the Constance and Buckham’s Bay Community Centre.
It was long overdue.
“We noticed the original floor of this stage was in bad shape,” original RRTC member Helen Weeden told West Carleton Online Monday, July 31 while volunteers took a break from finishing up the work. “Generally, it was not in good shape.”
“It was getting pretty grubby for sure,” another OG RRTC member Martin Weeden said, sharing some old photos with West Carleton Online. “You can see there’s missing pieces in the tiles. It was getting pretty scruffy. Whenever we’re building a wall as part of a set, we screw it to the floor. The first couple of years we didn’t made it really hard work to try and keep the wall from wandering around. But you end up with holes, holes, holes.”
After some searching and consulting, the RRTC came up with a plan.
“It’s not medium density fibre board, but it’s not hard either,” Martin said of the new stage floor. “It’s an outdoor-rated version, so it’s not exactly waterproof unless you put paint on it, but it is much more durable then the stuff you buy off the shelf at Home Depot.”
Helen says it’s easier on the feet as well.
“It’s made it feel more stable, even though there’s nothing structurally different,” Martin said.
The old tile also created lighting problems for the backstage crew.
“The director would ask you to light a certain part of the stage,” Martin said. “The old floor was a great reflector, so you would get all this light bouncing off, it wasn’t really easy to do. This new floor should make that a lot easier.”
The new, all-black painted floor increases the height of the stage by roughly half-an-inch (1.27 centimetres). The RRTC added extensions to the front of the stage to give them a bit more space to work with.
“When we got this idea to work on the flooring, at the same time the Eastern Ontario Drama League, which the RRTC belongs to, offers a special projects grant for their members to apply for,” Helen said. “So, we applied and they came through and gave us $1,000 towards the project.”
While the stage benefits the RRTC, it will also be a benefit to the Constance and Buckham’s Bay Community Association (CBBCA) who uses the hall regularly as well and hosts events like comedy shows and other special events.
“We’re looking at it as this is our contribution to the centre, because we are here (the RRTC got its start at the West Carleton Community Complex),” Helen said.
Even with the $1,000 grant, the RRTC expects roughly $2,000 more will come out of their own projects to cover the total costs, not to mention the volunteer work to install the new stage. The flooring alone was $1,600.
The project has taken the RRTC several weeks to complete.
“The planning took a long time,” Helen said. “Making sure we had enough plywood and materials.”
“All the materials were delivered Monday (July 24),” Martin said. “Four or five us carried that upstairs. It was like 80 pounds a sheet. Horrible. There was a thunderstorm going on. That was the beginning of the physical work. On average there have been four or five people, I’ve lost count, five or six days, afternoons generally and all-day Sunday.”
The RRTC hopes to work on the stage’s drapes next.
“The drapes we have are really, really old,” Helen said. “We got those from Sir Robert Borden High School which was built in 1967 or whatever. And they are from there originally. They are at least 60-something years old. We had to adapt them to our stage, but they are getting rather ratty. There’s some paint on them. The hooks along the top aren’t very good. In order to even use the ones we have here we have to spend $3,500 to treat them with fire retardant. We can get a new set for $6,5000.”
Without drapes audiences can see right in to the wings of the stage. The drapes are also used to hide set pieces when the hall is being used for other purposes.
“When we do a play, we put the curtains away because of the set,” Helen said. “But we’ll have to do something about them before the fall. We’re always trying to put something back in to the centre because they’ve been very good to us.”
The RRTC would like to thank the following volunteers (as well as the Eastern Ontario Drama League) for their work installing the new stage:
- Ron Gardner
- Marianne Black
- Joy Trepanier
- Ian Glen
- Harold Swaffield
- Guy Dalbec
- David Fitzsimons
- Bruce Buie
- Carolyn Walsh
- Brian Thompson
- Pat Weir
- Martin Weeden
We have also had help from CBBCA Board members:
- Celyn Smith
- Shannon Keeling