No more toil and trouble for the Shakespearians


There was another twist in the drama played between a backyard theater troupe in Old Ottawa South and the city’s bylaws department.On Monday, status agents issued a written notice to the Company of Adventurers ordering it to cease its current production of William Shakespeare. The comedy of mistakes, ready to run for the next three weekends, by Friday.

Regulations officers initially shut down the play last week after receiving complaints from neighbors, but the city later granted a reprieve, telling young theaters they could put on shows on Sunday and Monday for an intimate audience of friends. and family, provided that they obeyed the noise rules.

In a move championed by the mayor, the city also offered the troupe the use of nearby Windsor Park to perform the play in front of a larger audience.

But Paul Keen, who has co-run The Company of Adventurers with his wife Cynthia Sugars for the past decade and in the Glen Avenue yard, said the park was not a suitable venue because it didn’t have a stage, storage or appropriate space for costume changes.

Young “broken” actors

Then, on Monday, Keen was informed in writing to “immediately stop using [his] property for live theatrical performances “because it constitutes an” unauthorized use of the property in accordance with the zoning by-law “.

“It’s really starting to feel Shakespearean, and you just think it can’t be much more complicated and with more twists and turns, and then they throw a little more at you every day,” Keen said, adding that the young actors were more than disappointed.

“They were shocked when they heard the news,” Keen said. “We just gave them something really meaningful to pour their energy into… and suddenly say, ‘You can’t do it.'”

Stalls and balconies are illegal, according to city

A statement issued by the city on behalf of Roger Chapman, Director of Ottawa By-Laws Services, said the final decision came after a by-laws officer visited the house on Monday, where it was observed that ” stands and a balcony for an audience had also been built. , further demonstrating that it was a theatrical event intended for a general audience. ”

The status office also said it was not the first time it had been asked to pull the curtain.

In 2019, after responding to noise complaints, officers asked the company to find a new location.

The last act?

An online petition launched on Tuesday, urging the city to back down and allow the backyard performances to continue, had collected 800 signatures by early afternoon.

A number of lawyers have also contacted Keen and Sugars to offer to defend their case. The company said it is currently following Emilie Taman’s pro bono advice on how to proceed.

Keen is still hopeful that a compromise with the town can be reached and said he has been overwhelmed by the messages of support he has received from the townspeople.

“It’s like a good play: you don’t know the end. “


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