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WILL POWER – Joan Peggs

JO-ANN RICHARDS, WORKS PHOTOGRAPHY

Belfry Board member Joan Peggs has enjoyed a long relationship with the Belfry Theatre, stretching back to 1976 when the theatre was founded, and she first started as a volunteer.

Joan started in the concession booth, which at the time was in the actual theatre space, at the back of the seating area, where she could watch the performance from right behind the counter. Joan loved the theatre and the social aspects of volunteering and has been a mainstay of the Belfry community ever since.

“It’s brought me a lot of enjoyment and pleasure,” says Joan. “The Belfry has a great presence in Victoria. It started locally and has worked really hard to establish a place for itself in the community and a great reputation across the country.”

As someone who has been coming to the theatre for nearly five decades, Joan is an eager champion for the cause. Along with her volunteer and Board duties, Joan believes in encouraging people to support the Belfry in whatever way they can, including volunteering and financial support.

“I think it’s important to support organizations like this, especially in the arts community, because they’re vital to our community,” says Joan. “Life is all about trying to help people and make the world better for people, that’s how I see it

In addition to her volunteer work, Joan makes a substantial annual donation and made a major multi-year pledge to the Belfry’s capital campaign to renovate the lobby in 2017. In honour of this generosity, the Front of House area is named for Joan.

Joan has also taken the step to include the Belfry in her Will, along with other charitable organizations, a decision she is grateful to be in the position to make. The gift in her Will isn’t huge, says Joan, but builds on what she’s currently donating while she’s still able to see it put to good use. She knows that it all counts and that each gift makes a difference.

“You have to decide for yourself what values you have in life, what is of importance to you, what brings you joy,” says Joan. “You hope those things will bring joy to other people and you can help that happen by leaving a gift in your Will. You can enable that organization to carry on.”

More and more Canadians like Joan are making the decision to leave gifts for their favourite charities in their Will. The Belfry is proud to be part of a national campaign called Will Power. The campaign is inspiring Canadians to think differently about giving and consider a gift to charity in their will, along with making provisions for loved ones left behind.

To learn more about Will Power and how you can leave a gift in your Will, visit the Belfry’s Will Power webpage at: willpower.ca/charities/belfry-theatre-society/

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Belfry Librarian – Vigil

The wonderful librarians at the Greater Victoria Public Library have compiled a list of books and videos to help you get even more out of our production of Vigil.

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good
by Helene Tursten (2018)

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
by Gail Honeyman (2017)

Friendship in the Age of Loneliness: An Optimist’s Guide to Connection by Adam Smiley Poswolsky (2021)

In Absentia by Morris Panych (2012)

Loneliness as a Way of Life by Thomas Dumm (2008)

The Accidental Caregiver: The Challenges and Triumphs of Family Caregiving by Kimberly Fraser (2022)

The Dishwashers by Morris Panych (2005)

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old by Hendrik Groen (2017)

Lawrence & Holloman [DVD video] (2013)

Our thanks to

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Why I Chose This Play – Vigil

I love Morris Panych’s writing. He has what is probably the most idiosyncratic voice in Canadian theatre. Morris writes plays that put his unique view of the world on stage. To know Morris—a misanthrope with a heart of gold—is to know and appreciate the source of his theatrical creations.

Vigil—the most widely produced of Morris’s plays—began life here at the Belfry, and I felt it was time to revive and celebrate it. It’s 27 years later, and Vigil has new reverberations. Though there’s not a cell phone or computer in this world that Morris has drawn, one could easily believe that he’s examining the isolation they have created, and the lack of—and need for—genuine human contact.

And, frankly, it was simply time to invite Morris back—the most produced playwright on our stage—together with Ken MacDonald, recreating his iconic set from that very first production. They are both superstars of Canadian theatre and, in many ways, they—like this play—got their start at the Belfry—!

Michael Shamata

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Introducing our new Executive Director – Isaac Thomas

PHOTO BY JO-ANN RICHARDS, WORKS PHOTOGRAPHY

I am thrilled to introduce you to Isaac Thomas, the Belfry’s new Executive Director—and I hope you will get a chance to meet him in person over the course of this season. Isaac moved into his office off the lobby a mere two months ago, but already he’s part of the Belfry family and is making his presence felt. Personally, I am feeling invigorated by the numerous conversations he and I have had about life and art, and the purpose behind why we do what we do—!

Isaac is an arts executive who is passionate about the arts—! He has a deep commitment to new play development, arts education, and training. He is a core member of Rising Tides, a national initiative for the advancement of IBPOC arts managers, and is a vocal proponent for equity and inclusion in the arts. Isaac currently sits on the board of Cahoots Theatre—a company for equity-deserving artists.

Isaac came to the Belfry from Toronto, where, for the past 10 years, he was the Managing Director of Native Earth Performing Arts, Canada’s oldest professional Indigenous theatre company. Prior to that appointment, he held the position of Director of the extensive Drama School at Toronto’s Young People’s Theatre, and before that was General Manager of Theatre Kingston, in Ontario. He has served on the Advisory Committee of New Harlem Productions and as Chair of the Toronto Association of Acting Studios and Theatre Ontario’s Youth Theatre Training Program (YTTP).

Originally from Delhi, Isaac came to Canada after completing an MA in English Literature at Delhi University, and an MFA in Acting at Ohio University. He also holds a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto’s OISE (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education), having focused on inner-city education.

Prior to his administrative career, Isaac was a member of the resident acting company at the Cleveland Playhouse and toured schools with Karamu House, an African American theatre company in Cleveland. After moving to Toronto, he worked as a stage manager for 10 years, with such companies as Canadian Stage, Young People’s Theatre, fu-GEN, Cahoots Theatre, Modern Times, and Theatre Direct.

When his appointment to the Belfry was announced, Isaac said: “I am thrilled to be joining the Belfry and working with the exceptional team of the Board, Michael, and the dedicated staff. The Belfry is a great institution, deeply respected for its work and culture, both in the community of Victoria and nationally. I am fortunate to have the support and guidance of Ivan Habel, who in partnership with Michael, has accomplished so much at the Belfry. I look forward to building on that legacy. I am profoundly honoured by the faith placed in me and look forward to engaging with the broader community in this beautiful city.”

Isaac’s arrival marks a new chapter in the Belfry’s history, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be embarking on this journey alongside such an intelligent, dedicated, and passionate partner.

Michael Shamata

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Belfry Librarian – Intimate Apparel

The wonderful librarians at the Greater Victoria Public Library have compiled a list of books and videos to help you get even more out of our production of Intimate Apparel.

A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali N. Gross (2020)

Dressed in Dreams by Tanisha C. Ford (2019)

A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali N. Gross (2020)

How Wall Street Created a Nation: J.P. Morgan,Teddy Roosevelt and the Panama Canal by Ovido Diaz Espino (2001)

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly (2016)

A Black Women’s History of the United States by Daina Ramey Berry and Kali N. Gross (2020)

Libertie: A Novel by Kaitlyn Greenidge (2021)

Panama Canal by Stephen Ives [DVD] (2011)

Radical Intimacy: Cultivate the Deeply Connected Relationships You Desire and Deserve by Zoë Kors (2022)

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray (2021)

Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval by Saidiya V. Hartman (2019)

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves: An Anthology by Glory Edim, editor (2018) – includes “Putting women center stage: a conversation with Lynn Nottage”

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Why I Chose This Play – Intimate Apparel

“People need human contact, Maxine, honey.” So wrote Tennessee Williams in one of his greatest plays, The Night of the Iguana. Playwright Lynn Nottage presents us with five souls in search of human contact, yearning for intimacy. These are people unlikely to draw anyone’s attention on the street. With the exception of Mrs. Van Buren, none of them have any “standing” in the world. And yet, the emotion that simmers inside each of them could fuel a jet plane—!

After seeing a vintage photograph entitled “Unidentified Negro Seamstress, 1905.” Lynn Nottage wanted to know more about this woman—who was she and what was her story? That photograph inspired this play—making it a celebration of the human heart and its resiliency.

It’s a great story, with an enormous heart. And that’s why I chose this play. – Michael Shamata, Artistic Director

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Why I Chose This Play – Kindred

I have never seen this play before; the first draft that Rosa sent me surprised and intrigued me. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it made me worry about the characters. It is one-of-a-kind—and I love it. It really is like a fairy tale—these adults make choices that change their lives. They really do venture into the woods, and risk emerging as different people—for better or for worse! We invested in this play’s development, and I am thrilled to see it realized on our stage.

Michael Shamata

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Belfry Librarian – Kindred

For each Belfry production, the librarians at the Greater Victoria Public Library tuck into the script and then dive into the Dewey Decimal System to come up with books, films and recordings that could help enrich your experience.

Here’s what they came up with for Kindred.

Blend: The Secret to Co-Parenting and Creating a Balanced Family

Mashonda Tifrere (2018)

Blended [DVD]

Frank Coraci (2014)

Cars From a Marriage

Debra Galant (2010)

Collateral Damage: Guiding and Protecting Your Child Through the Minefield of Divorce

Dr. John T. Chirban (2017)

The Conscious Parent’s Guide to Coparenting: A Mindful Approach to Creating a Collaborative, Positive Parenting Plan

Jenna Flowers (2016)

Everybody Fights: So Why Not Get Better At It?

Kim and Penn Holderness (2021)

Growing Yourself Up: How to Bring Your Best to All of Life’s Relationships

Jenny Brown (2017)

Lessons of Lifelong Intimacy: Building a Stronger Marriage Without Losing Yourself – The 9 Principles of a Balanced and Happy Relationship

Michael Gurian (2015)

Love Rules: How to Find a Real Relationship in a Digital World

 Joanna Coles (2018)

 Mila Has Two Beds

Judith Koppens (2020)

The Ethical Leader: Why Doing the Right Thing Can Be the Key to Competitive Advantage

Morgen Witzel (2018)

The Leader’s Guide to Unconscious Bias: How to Reframe Bias, Cultivate Connection, and Create High-Performing Team

Pamela Fuller, et. al (2020)

The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples and What They Reveal About Creating a New Normal in Your Relationship

Pamela Fuller, et. al (2020)

Our thanks to

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Spotlight on Supporters: Diane Scott

The Show Must Go On. Diane Scott chose to include that line under her name on a Belfry theatre seat plate recently, alongside another seat dedicated to the memory of her late partner Shelley Deglan. Shelley was a fearless and passionate jeweller, craftsperson and gardener (to name a few of her talents) but it was Diane who first introduced her to the theatre.

Frequent business trips from the Lower Mainland when Diane was Island District Manager for London Drugs led to the couple settling here in 2015. Naturally, with their preference for intimate theatre spaces, visits to Belfry shows soon followed. Having attended shows in Vancouver, New York, Chicago, and Sydney, they noticed right away how unique, professional and very Canadian the Belfry programming was, rather than simply “catering to popular demand.” The Mom’s the Word series (“I loved how engaged the audience was”) and Bears are some of the memorable productions Diane recalls attending. She also fondly recalls the experience of attending a matinee together several years ago when former Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon made one of her exciting entrances to a Belfry show with her bagpiper procession.

With a love of old buildings and a keen awareness of the need for arts funding, they first started their charitable giving to the theatre motivated by the Belfry Capital Campaign. They soon after joined the Director’s Circle, the Belfry’s major donor group.

The Show Must Go On sentiment is both a nod to the pandemic reality for theatre creators, as well as Diane’s journey of living after the loss of a partner of four decades. The Belfry seat dedication, as well as naming a bench on the Songhees walkway, is Diane’s way of continuing to honour Shelley’s legacy in the places she most loved. Diane has also created a fund in Shelley’s name at the BC Cancer Foundation.

Diane is now planning to update her will to add the Belfry to the charities that had been chosen before their move to Victoria: “Shelley first taught me to start supporting the arts by always making sure to buy something at an art show to support the artist, even if it’s just a $10 card. I want to continue to support the Belfry as it is just a gem in this community, the calibre of the theatre first class, and I’m very conscious of the fact that throughout the ages we have always needed patrons of the arts on every level.”

For more information on ways to support the Belfry including naming a seat or including the Belfry in your will, contact: development@belfry.bc.ca

Susan Stevenson, Director of Development  250-385-6835 ext. 229

Kate Barry, Development Coordinator 250-385-6835 ext. 240

https://www.belfry.bc.ca/name-a-seat

https://www.belfry.bc.ca/legacy-giving/

https://www.willpower.ca/charities/belfry-theatre-society/

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Spotlight on Supporters – Sandra Stott

Photo - Sandra Stott with her mother Daisy Foster at the Belfry. Photo by Roland Dawkins
Photo – Sandra Stott with her mother Daisy Foster at the Belfry. Photo by Roland Dawkins

Sandra grew up in Toronto and studied in Montreal. One of her professors at McGill University was author Hugh MacLennan who nourished her love of literature, storytelling, and drama. After graduation, Sandra taught English in Kenya for two years.

While married with a young child and working contract jobs, Sandra found volunteering as an usher at the Belfry (circa 1980) was her ticket to enjoying a wide variety of live theatre. She laughingly recalls that the volunteer seating in those pre-renovation days generally had “the visual obstacle of a pillar in the way.” After landing a full-time government job and with a growing family, Sandra became a Belfry subscriber. Later, switching careers to become an Investment Advisor, she shared her love of the theatre by buying tickets for 30 women clients of all ages to fill the balcony for a performance of the original Mom’s the Word production.

Sandra was inspired to become an annual donor because she feels she receives so much from the Belfry. Some of her favourite Belfry memories over the years include attending: Maggie and Pierre, The Dining Room, Two Pianos Four Hands, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. She now cares for her 97-year-old mother who still accompanies her to some shows.

Inclusivity is important to Sandra, and she finds that the Belfry is inclusive in its programming as well as in terms of respect for human beings in general: “That is something I can feel from chatting with staff and board members.”

Last year, in response to the pandemic, Sandra increased her annual donation.

“I felt it was important to keep live actors living. Arts, music, and those kinds of things are often the first to go. The New Incubator Project is important for younger artists; I appreciate taking care of our youth. I appreciate how the Belfry has been part of the community and provides such a variety of offerings from Black History Month events to live dance parties for families with children, and I’m thrilled with the upcoming SPARK films.”

For further information about making a donation to the Belfry, please contact Susan Stevenson, Director of Development at susan.stevenson@belfry.bc.ca or 250-385-6835 ext. 229