Sudbury welcomes new professional theatre company
The city's unexplainable charm has worked its magic on yet another out-of-towner.
Bill Lane spent most of his adult life living in Toronto, until a job opportunity presented itself at Thorneloe University.
Lane came here for a 10-month contract, and is now calling the city home. In a proud deceleration of his newfound Sudbury citizenship, Lane decided to do what he does best and fully commit himself to theatre in the city.
“As I hung out and started to meet people here, I realized amazing potential,” he said.
Capitalizing on the skill base he found here, Lane has taken on the role of founding director and producer of North Road Theatre, a professional company dedicated to telling the stories of the region.
Using a less tradition approach, Lane plans to incorporate live music and visual impacts to his productions, which will be staged in unlikely venues.
“I got hooked on the idea there was stuff (like this) going on here,” he said. “I could help make that happen.”
The company's premiere production opens May 15 at the Moose Lodge. Lane will be directing Thorneloe Theatre's Chair Patricia Tedford and performer-extraordinaire Pandora Topp in Muskeg & Money, a production written by Chapleau-native Mansel Robinson.
Set in a small Northern town in the midst of a local mill strike, Muskeg & Money tells the story of a mother and daughter struggling to get along and survive in a world with ever-changing rules.
After its local run, Lane said he'd love to take the show on the road — hence the Northern Road name.
“You can't run a play here more than couple of weeks,” he said.
But he is banking on successful shows in his hometown — shows that push the boundaries of the traditional “professional theatre” image.
“It's not about conversations in rooms,” Lane said.
No, his productions will extend past people talking on stage. His goal is for them to become a place people come to meet, to engage and to be part of something.
“Theatre has to happen in places where people want to rub shoulders with strangers in the dark,” he said.
Given the ever-evolving cultural atmosphere in Sudbury, Lane said he truly believes the city is ready for it — ready to watch productions not set in formal theatres, ready to watch their own stories be told and ready to watch involved shows that include more than scripts.
“For sure Sudbury is ready for more stuff like that,” he said.
In the coming season, and into the near future, Lane said he plans to pay tribute to other northern playwrights like Robinson and Tomson Highway.
“We need to love these playwrights,” he said. “These playwrights are telling (our) stories.”
For his first production, Lane said he is still looking for a young local to fill the final lead role. Musical ability is an asset to anyone interested in auditioning.
For more information, or to get involved, contact Lane at firstname.lastname@example.org.