Tim Nicholson has worked in theatre in the Highlands for years. A staple with Highlands Summer Festival, and Highlands Little Theatre, Nicholson said one thing he noticed was that talented young people were not gracing stages enough in the County. So, he and Amy Leis set about doing something about that. The result is Ctrl-ART-Del, a new theatre company with an emphasis on youth.
They are in the middle of rehearsing for a play, Cherubs, they will present at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Paviliion March 31 and April 1.
A long-time actor, who has appeared in North Bay and Toronto, it will be Nicholson’s directorial debut.
“And, it’s my first time being part of a brand new theatre company,” he said in a recent interview.
He expands on his rationale, saying, “I’ve been working in Haliburton County for a number of years in theatre. I noticed that the majority of the young people, talented young people, in our community weren’t appearing on stage.
“Most of the younger people that were appearing on stage were from out of the County, and I know we have very talented people in the community. I wanted to give them an opportunity to work on stage if they wanted to.”
He added the new company is designed primarily to stage contemporary works, which means anything after 1990 and preferably after 2000, “that will get them interested in theatre in the community.
“That’s our main goal, to eventually put me out to pasture, and let the young people have a theatre company that they can run on their own and do works they’re interested in, and they can say to me, ‘Tim, thanks for your help, but go away’.”
He said their first show, Cherubs, was workshopped in the U.K. in 2021. He added Leis, who is one of their actors and co-operator of the group, did the workshop online during the pandemic and played a character she will replicate this spring.
Written by Toby McShane, it’s a “very dark comedy … visions of Martin McDonagh or the Quentin Tarantino Pulp Fiction era,” Nicholson said. “It’s quite amusing, it’s quite dark, and we’re very lucky to have the Canadian premiere of it.”
The cast has been picked, although the plan is for open auditions in future.
“We chose a play that would feature these actors rather than doing an open audition. We were hoping with a closed audition that we could find something that holds up, or people that would be interested in working in theatre, if they could see that ‘yes, there is the potential of doing exciting new theatre in the County for young people’.”
Nicholson is excited about what lies ahead.
“This is the first time, in a long time, that I’m very excited about theatre.” He added it is meaningful as he ages.
“Everybody comes to the point in their lives where they realize that the knowledge that they gained over the course of their experience, if it hasn’t been passed on, is going to die with the person. I ran into that when I retired from cabinet work and trim carpentry. I realized that I had this abundance of knowledge on how to do my trade really, really well and there was nobody to pass it on to.
“I realized the same thing was happening with theatre. I have a lot of experience in theatre. I’ve worked with professional actors and directors. I’ve learned a lot. And if I don’t pass this on, then that information, those skills for that craft, are going to die with me. That would be a shame. I’m hoping this new company gives me the opportunity to pass on the information and the skills that go with the craft to a younger, brighter, population that can take that information and make it their own and run with it. That’s really what I want out of this company. To stand on their own multiple feet and make this thing work and take the information I can give them and run with it.”
Cherubs will be performed at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion on March 31 at 7:30 p.m., and April 1 at 2 p.m. For more information about Ctrl-ART-Del, visit ctrlartdel.ca or visit their socials media.