Theatre group makes plans

Midway and Beyond Little Theatre is poised to launch their first season.

John Hibberson speaks to the inaugural meeting of the Midway and Beyond Little Theatre Group last week as they began work on their first live production due to hit the stage in late November.

You know a production company has found a hit when they have to put out more chairs before they raise the curtain on the first act. That’s what happened last Thursday, Oct. 9 at the community hall in Midway.

The story really began at the end of November 2013, when Midway and Beyond Little Theatre Group project coordinator John Hibberson went to village council to ask their permission to use the hall for live community theatre. His plans were ambitious: lighting, sound, a new curtain, even a larger stage were needed.

Council gave Hibberson the nod and less than 11 months later new lighting hangs from the ceiling, speakers for a state of the art sound system hang on the walls, a new curtain hangs some six metres in front of the existing stage and a new portable stage system sits on it’s trolley at the back of the hall.

Hibberson acknowledged all this was possible only through the generous support of the Phoenix Foundation of the B o u n d a r y Communities, Heritage Credit Union, Midway Legacy Fund, the Regional District Kootenay Boundary and Vaagen Fibre Canada.

Hibberson’s energy and passion for the project also prompted long-time friend and member of the University of Victoria Board of Governors Anthony Gage to personally donate $10,000 to the project. All told, Hibb (as he was known to students and staff at BCSS where he taught drama for many years) was able to bring in some $21,000 to get the ball rolling.

All of this was done under the umbrella of the Midway Community Association. So last week Cat Kappes and other members of the community association put out 20 chairs for the inaugural meeting.

Then they worried. What if no one came?

But their worries were groundless— because by the time 7 p.m. rolled around and Hibberson took his place at the front of the group, more chairs had to be set out.

Those who came out ranged in age from elementary school students to seniors. They listened as Hibb explained that even before he’d gone to village council last November he’d come to the community association to ask their blessing for his dream of community theatre. He’d received a good reception, though they did have one requirement: in return for taking the theatre group under their wing he would have to become an active member of the association.

Hibb shared his vision of community theatre with the highest possible production values; and he insisted that the company include talent (both onstage and behind the scenes) from throughout the West Boundary. “The name of the group has to be the Midway and Beyond Little Theatre Group,” he said.

His vision includes teaching behind the scenes theatre skills as well; such as how to use and maintain the equipment.

The meeting then got down to planning for their first production. The curtain is scheduled to go up on All That Glisters—a type of radio play to be performed live on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 28 and 29—a year to the day that Hibberson took his idea to council. (Ed. note: Last week the Times reported the date of the production a week earlier; but that has been changed.)

All That Glistens concerns the 1896 robbery of the Camp McKinney gold bars. It tells the tale of the robbery and its aftermath, the murder of Matthew Roderick, the robber, by mine superintendent Joe Keane.

A second, more ambitious production planned for next spring is in the early planning stages as well.

For more information email John Hibberson: johnnyhib1@yahoo.ca.