By Emily Stonehouse
Make way for young adults in the community – they’re about to take centre stage. Ctrl-ART-Del is a new theatre company that’s sprung up in the Haliburton Highlands, with individuals between the ages of eighteen to forty at the forefront.
The company was spearheaded by Tim Nicholson and Amy Leis; two people who are no strangers to the stage themselves, but saw a gap in community theatre, not only in the highlands, but everywhere. “There is nothing specifically geared towards young people in theatre arts,” said Nicholson, “and that’s a niche that needs to be filled.”
Nicholson recalled that he first developed the concept last summer, when he retired from his career in cabinet making. He said as he hung up his woodworking tools for the last time, he realized he had no one to pass the thirty years of knowledge on to. The thought of this lifetime of skills being lost made him stop to think. “That chapter closed,” he said, “but theatre, theatre I realized I could still take the time to pass on.”
Nicholson got his start on the stage during the early days of the Highlands Summer Festival (HSF), before he was hired as a guest artist at Canadore College. From there, he performed professionally across various parts of North Bay and Toronto, before growing “tired of living out of a suitcase” and returned to live and work in the Haliburton Highlands, with continued roles in HSF.
Leis had acted in the region for 10 years with HSF, during which time she was attending George Brown College to receive professional theatre training. She settled in Minden permanently during the pandemic. “I went to school in Toronto because I sort of had to, there’s no way to study theatre in a smaller town,” she said, “but this is my community here, and I want to build something here so we can stay where we love.”
The concept for Ctrl-ART-Del is a refresh or restart for something new. Nicholson and Leis believe that this new company will offer an outlet for young professionals to take the reins for theatre in the area. They hope to invite young people of all skill-sets, levels, and interests to partake, with Nicholson and Leis providing participants with their own knowledge and experiences to assist in their theatrical journey and development.
The first show that they are presenting is titled Cherubs, which is excitedly making its Canadian debut on Haliburton soil. The play is described as a “black comedy,” which Nichsolson and Leis believe will attract younger audience members. “It’s very Tarantino meets Beetlejuice, very dark, very funny,” said Leis. The play has four young adults as the main actors, with Nicholson as the director.
While Nicholson has stepped into the directorial role for this performance, he said he will measure success by how soon he can walk away. “I want to be able to pass the information I have onto this group, and then I want them to run with it,” he said. His vision is to have Ctrl-ART-Del continue to grow with young, eager actors, so that there is a place where they can feel supported, seen, and welcomed in the community.
“We have received great feedback on launching the company so far,” said Leis. She believes that this is something that has been missing from the community for a long time, and the development of this opportunity for young professionals will be pivotal in attracting folks to the region.
Cherubs will be in 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 www.ctrlartdel.ca or visit their socials.