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Library cues the fundraising with theatre and music

Shatterbox Theatre performers provide a glimpse of their upcoming play ‘Spring Awakening’ to be performed May 2020.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Right on cue, the performers performed, the actors acted and the musicians played Saturday night at The Mess Hall at Picton’s newly-renovated Armoury.

The latest event in Prince Edward County Public Library’s fundraising efforts witnessed the joint collaboration of Shatterbox Theatre and Picton branch library. The originative and entertaining benefit evening of theatre delivered, along with creative musical elements, with the local band, Cue the Funk.

“We partnered together this year [with the library] which is absolutely incredible, and we hope this is the first of very many things that we are going to do together,” said Georgia Papanicolaou, co-founder of Shatterbox Theatre.

All proceeds from the night will benefit both the Picton branch library expansion and Shatterbox Theatre’s future projects.

The first-ever event, Papanicolaou hopes, will be the first of many Cue the Nights.

“This place is absolutely gorgeous,” said Papanicolaou, “and we wanted to highlight the renovations.”

Thought-provoking, funny and cleverly done, the imaginative performances, consisted of about half a dozen vignettes from Shatterbox Theatre shows from past, present and future.

The evening began with an excerpt from Colleen Murphy’s Armstrong’s War.

Pat Larkin and Alice Graham perform an excerpt from ‘Armstrong’s War’.

The charming encounter between a young soldier, Michael Armstrong (played by Pat Larkin) and the talkative and persistent 12-year-old spirited Pathfinder, Halley Armstrong (played by Alice Graham) was strong and well done.

Fiona Dodsworth’s performance spoke to how licking one’s elbows may hold the secret to immortality in a short extract from Constellations. Add in a suspenseful and riveting excerpt from The Small Room at the Top of the Stairs with Robin Snip (as Grace) with Fiona Dodsworth, Shelley Zebedee and Julie Lane. Then Mickenzie Pearsoll and Roxanne McKenzie talk art as they hold a discussion on how much one would pay for a white canvas painting. ‘Art’ will be performed at The Local Store this September.

Brief interludes followed each performing segment, where specially-crafted cocktails could be enjoyed, as well as complimentary frozen yogurt and Prince Edward County-made popcorn.

Pat Larkin and Jacob Dey perform an excerpt from an upcoming play ‘Red’.

The diverse array of talent included in the benefit evening included special guest Megan Hutton’s (of Instant Rivalry fame) theatrical talents come to life in a lively medley. But it was Pat Larkin and Jacob Dey’s captivating performance to bring painter Mark Rothko’s talent to life that had the audience hanging on every word ‘Red’ will be performed at The Regent Theatre this September.

With the theatre portion of the night complete and lights dimmed, patrons were able to the dance the night away as the full nine-piece band, Cue the Funk, took over the stage.

Megan Hutton performs a medley.

Plans to restore the existing library and build a three-story extension are well under way as fundraising efforts continue, with construction slated to begin soon.

Papanicolaou first met Picton branch library’s Julie Lane when they did Night at the Museum together recently.

“I volunteered to do some of the performance with her and I was really thrilled with what they were putting together as far as programming at the library, and the funds that they were needing to raise,” said Papanicolaou.

She thought it would be a good opportunity for Shatterbox to partner with the library.

“Julie [Lane] had this opportunity for us to do some workshops with students, so we partnered up to do free musical theatre workshops. And then we thought, well, if we are going to do that, let’s do a fundraiser as well, and that’s how Cue the Night came about,” added Papanicolaou.

“And then we thought, what would happen if we added music, so then that upped the ante, and then it grew and grew from there,” said Lane. “Now it’s ended up with this really great collection of everything Shatterbox has done and I’m very thrilled to be on the team for that and the next show.”

Shatterbox Theatre made up of a dedicated group of volunteers – a collective group of local artists and theatre lovers – is a not-for-profit group specializing in bringing unconventional, re-imagined and inspired works to the community. They provide a safe and open space for creativity and collaboration, and welcome anyone that wants to explore the arts and express themselves, with the goal of providing affordable and accessible theatre.

Barbara Sweet, Prince Edward County Public Library CEO, said it was a really unique evening and she was really excited about it.

“It’s just so nice to partner with other entities in the community because we learn more about them to begin with and we both benefit, and I think that’s the way we should work together in the community,” said Sweet.

Sweet described how Lane and Papanicolaou came up with the idea to collaborate.

“Julie’s been attending our fundraising meetings, so we have all been scratching our heads trying to come up with unique ideas to raise money because we want to get this job done and get our extension built,” she said.

“Julie is also involved with Shatterbox; she’s the library end of things and she also performs with Shatterbox, it just sort of evolved naturally in that way. We were really happy that she came up with the idea and that she and Georgia at Shatterbox have been great to work with and it’s just been really an easy collaboration.”

Papanicolaou explained how Lane will form part of their next performance, and noted they will be using Cue the Funk for the musical too which she said married really well together.

“It’s a surprise, so we can’t announce it until we actually perform a piece from it, but it will be next spring and she [Lane] will be on the production team, and we’ve got a lot of members here who have worked really hard on the show.”

Lane said it ended up being a great opportunity to feature the partnerships with what the library was able to do and the amazing work Shatterbox was doing.

“Bringing new types of theatre in more provocative and more thought-provoking theatre to Prince Edward County, as well as bringing in Cue the Funk, an amazing local band, it just all melds so well,” said Lane.

“It was a perfect opportunity to feature everything to benefit two amazing causes.”

Announced by Papanicolaou at the end of the evening, Shatterbox Theatre will perform ‘Spring Awakening’ in May 2020 where they provided a glimpse of what is to come. The play about youth and rebellion was originally written in 1891.

Sweet said the Picton branch library has raised about $1.68 million of their two million dollar goal.

“We are inching up there and we feel that once people see activity and shovels on the ground that will help us reach our target.”

Sweet said they are just about to launch a new aspect of the campaign to be called ‘Two for Two’. “We are going to do the last $200,000 in the last two months, and that will be the last big push.”

To find out more about the Picton branch library ‘Time to Renew’ campaign or to donate, visit peclibrary.org/expansion

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