Durham Shoestring Performers
In 2019, 46 Years of Accessible Theatre
Oshawa’s younger community theatre was founded in 1974 by Jeannine Butler, whose objectives are followed by her successors today – to present challenging and entertaining plays with an emphasis on innovative acting, writing, directing and design and to produce these plays keeping costs low so that live theatre can be accessible to all members of the community.
DSP programs many shows not often seen in community theatre and has produced several new full-length works by local writers. Canadian plays have been prominently featured over the years. Current artistic director Carolyn Wilson, who took the reins in 1990, selects each season’s slate from among directors who put forward a show they love. Wilson’s goal is to balance available roles across gender, age and experience lines in keeping with DSP’s accessibility mandate, ensuring that backstage workers find their niche as well.
All auditions are public and there are no monologues required to participate in the company. Adults and teenagers wanting to perform or to work backstage are always welcome. There’s no membership fee to get involved in DSP, just a desire to create a few theatrical waves and the time to make it happen.
DSP has performed all seasons from the Arts Resource Centre behind Oshawa City Hall. Because of the intimacy of the 105 seat “fishbowl”, this venue affords a powerful theatrical experience for audiences; no seat is more than 6 metres from the stage. DSP chooses plays that suit this close contact well. A heavy emphasis is placed on programming Canadian material. In recent seasons works by George F. Walker, Timothy Findley, Maureen Hunter, Anne Chislett, Michel Tremblay, Daniel MacIvor, Michael Redhill, and many others, have graced the stage.
As well, DSP brings to Oshawa provocative plays from the American and British theatre. Past seasons saw Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine, a hilarious but pointed look at a century of sexual politics, Falsettos by William Finn and James Lapine, a musical about love in the age of A.I.D.S. and The Kiss of the Spider Woman, book by Terrance McNally, music by John Kander, lyrics by Fred Ebb.
Perhaps most exciting, DSP has produced premiere performances of work by local playwrights, including Brad Carson’s The Undiscovered Country, The House on Geoffrey Street by John Green, Diamond Vision by Llewellyn Jones, Waltzing with Lunacy by Ken Bond and Doug Craven’s Wooden Milk.
Not your usually expected community theatre fare, but an affordable pleasure for the adventurous theatre-goer. A full listing of past productions can be seen on the Archives page.
DSP’s next season is announced annually in mid-summer, in the local media, via printed flyer, social media and in this space.
Scripts can be borrowed for advance reading of the plays, and people interested in backstage, design or production work are also welcome to attend any audition – no performance necessary, but to let us know you’d like to be involved.