Dartmouth Players prepares for its final season at the Sawmill Playhouse

In search of a new home, the longtime community theatre group will feature plays in the public domain to help them recover financially from the pandemic.

Its home since 1987, the Dartmouth Players' 2021-2022 season will be the last at the Sawmill Playhouse. Photo: Facebook/Dartmouth Players.
Its home since 1987, the Dartmouth Players' 2021-2022 season will be the last at the Sawmill Playhouse. Photo: Facebook/Dartmouth Players.

Moliere, Ibsen, Shakespeare and JM Barrie are among the playwrights that will feature on the marquee as Dartmouth Players prepares to produce its 35th and final season at the Sawmill Playhouse. It is a season lineup that is as much an artistic choice as it is practical.

“It may be the last one in this theatre, but not only will it not be our last season, it will also be our best.” – Dale Charron

“We thought it would be a chance to highlight some of the classics,” says the community theatre company’s president Dale Charron.

“We also wanted to look at some shows that haven’t been done as often, like JM Barrie’s Dear Brutus. Everyone knows JM Barrie, but beyond Peter Pan no one really knows what else he has written.”

With four of the season’s shows in the public domain, it will also mean cost-savings for a company looking to recover from the pandemic and as they continue their search for a new home.

“We figured doing something that was public domain would help us maximize ticket sales and put us in a good footing financially to help us find a new space,” says Charron.

Not that finding a new space was unexpected, as the lease was coming due in 2027, and their landlords, St Peter’s Church, had already made it known they would not continue renting it out beyond that date.

However, the search became a more immediate reality when the church sped up its plans, citing a lack of funds for needed renovations to bring the building up to code.

“So we knew we had a couple of years before we had to find somewhere new but unfortunately, the pandemic accelerated things,” says Charron.

With the search on in more earnest, Charron says they are looking at all options.

“We’ve been looking at a couple of old churches trying to see what we can make work but there is nothing firm at the moment,” he says.

One certainty for Charron, though, is the theatre group will continue. “Regardless of what happens, we intend to have a season the following year.”

For now, though, Charron is focusing as much energy on getting ready for the company’s season opener in October, Moliere’s Tartuffe and celebrating this milestone.

“This year more than any is really about everyone who has ever been part of Dartmouth Players,” says Charron. “We’re really trying to celebrate what it means to be Dartmouth Players and everything that the community has done for us and us with them.”

With many surprises planned for its final Sawmill Playhouse season, Charron is excited to share it with audiences. “It may be the last one in this theatre, but not only will it not be our last season, it will also be our best.”

Tickets for Dartmouth Players’ 2021-2022 season will go on sale sometime in September. Visit dartmouthplayers.ns.ca for more information.

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