For this month, the Winnipeg River Arts Council features the Pinawa Players. The well-known local theatre group had its roots in Deep River, Ontario, a town established in the 1940s for employees of Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL).
In the early 1960s, AECL expanded its operations to Manitoba, and created the town of Pinawa. Most of the employees came from Ontario, with many of them already active in the “Deep River Players.”
In 1964, this nucleus of thespians formed the fledgling “Pinawa Players.” They helped guide the construction of the Pinawa Community Centre Auditorium, and its stage, which benefited not only the Players, but also many other community groups.
In April of 1964, they presented their first production, “Variety – The Spice of Life,” in the Pinawa Elementary School gymnasium, featuring a one-act play “Mother’s Day,” and showcasing local musical and dance groups. In the autumn of 1965, they hosted the first Players’ production the new Auditorium.
For John Tait, the present chair, the 1979 musical, “Annie Get Your Gun,” sticks out in his memory. He says, “With a cast of over 100 community members, it was a memorable extravaganza, involving the whole town – adults and children from community groups, choirs, musicians, and even acrobats!”
For 51 years, the Pinawa Players have presented over 100 plays including comedies, dramas, musicals, dinner theatre, and children’s shows. They usually stage two productions per year for enthusiastic Pinawa and surrounding-area audiences. This year, they continue their tradition with the dinner theatre, “Dixie Swim Club,” being held during November 18-22.
The Players continue to support community building. In 1982, they helped found the Association of Community Theatres (A.C.T.), which connects Manitoba’s amateur theatre groups and sponsors an annual drama festival. They’ve hosted four festival weekends, most recently in 2013.
Also, they participate in Pinawa Birthday Weekend Parade, host the annual Christmas Carol Sing at the Shopping Mall, and have joined Winnipeg River Arts Council.
The Players welcome anyone interested, whether it be acting or helping backstage. John Tait says, “There’s no lack of jobs and fun when a performance is being prepared!”
~ Information and photos submitted by chairman John Tait