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Opinion: Bill Walton, Comedy in the Time of COVID

RX laughter by Powassan Players

After a too-long hiatus due to Covid, the Powassan Players returned to the stage at 250 Clark in Powassan during the first week in November. The Players perform only comedy although with Covid seemingly re-surging this past fall, we did have some drama: in the eight weeks leading up to the play, four out of the ten cast members tested positive, although none of us were seriously ill. You can imagine what this did to rehearsals!

The play, All Because of Agatha, was about evicting a witch from a haunted house in Salem. The attempt by a local medium to use an incantation of Latin with chicken feathers and garlic failed, as you might expect, but during the intermission, the Players offered a package of said feathers, garlic and a Latin phrase for a donation to the Powassan Food Bank. The Players matched the donations resulting in a cheque for $600 to the Powassan Food Bank.

The audience consisted mainly of people from the Powassan area although former residents of the area often come from as far away as Sudbury and Caledon. 250 Clark, in our theatre configuration, seats just over 100 people, and this fall we drew over 300 guests for the three nights. As is our tradition, the Players offer a beverage and cookies during intermission, giving the actors time to change costumes and the audience time to exchange greetings with friends. It is almost like a family reunion – without Uncle George and his squeaking violin.

The Players have an excellent light system, and now thanks to a generous donation to the Players and the Town in 2019 by Paul and Edwina Lechitner (former residents), we have a sound system par excellence. We finally were able to present them with a certificate of appreciation this year.

The Powassan Players, like all local theatre groups, bring something special to the community. Whether it is through music, dance, arts and craft, or theatre, we need to enrich our lives by experiencing our culture and the diversity of the culture of others who make us a community. This bonding of community, especially after (and during) Covid is what keeps us going and giving back.

To keep the Arts alive in our communities we need involvement and commitment, particularly from young people. Forty per cent of the Powassan Players on stage were octogenarians and our best-before date is expiring (or in my case, expired!). We need younger people to take up the torch, not only as thespians but as singers, dancers, artists, and stagehands who handle the technical side of presentations that make our sometimes dreary lives come alive in the happiness and satisfaction we bring to others.

There are others things happening in our community that can bring a smile to your face.  I opened a 12-egg carton at the grocery store – checking for broken eggs – and found only 11 eggs in the cardboard container. My brother says it was eggflation. Maybe this is the new baker’s dozen.

The bakers around the Queen’s Park area in Toronto have been trapping crows to make pies for the Doug Ford Conservatives. Unbelievable attempt to use the Notwithstanding clause. Although I suppose we must expect some sewage seepage from the south.

And I laughed until the tears rolled down my face when the checkout clerk wanted $79.09 for two bags of groceries – the only ‘luxury’ item was a bag of Cheetos – I’ll have to ration the portions on them too.

Anyway, kudos to all performers and associates in the Arts. We need you more than ever. And, Players – you can stop with the jokes about my mispronouncing of "obstetrician."

Bill Walton

About the Author: Bill Walton

retired from City of North Bay in 2000writer, poet, columnist
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