Hamilton is a city of community theatres. From the lower city to the mountain, from east to west end, community theatres are a prominent part of the city’s cultural fabric. Theatre Ancaster was just welcomed into the Ancaster Memorial Arts Centre; its new home. The Players’ Guild boasts that it is North America’s oldest continuing community theatre.
And recently, Emerson Arts added its name to those serving Hamilton audiences.
Co-Artistic Director and Co-Founders of Emerson Art, Emily Bolyea is no stranger to the city’s many community theatres. Bolyea’s credentials include serving as a board member for musical theatre company Hamilton Theatre Inc. (HTI), as well as participating in productions for HTI and Theatre Ancaster.
In 2020, Bolyea teamed up with a graduate of Toronto’s Randolph College for the Performing Arts, Mason Micevski, and Emerson Arts was born.
“Two best friends who love theatre and each other so much, we did whatever we could to be able to do more theatre together.” the duo explains.
In addition to Bolyea and Micevski, the Emerson Arts team is rounded out by Bolyea’s daughters, Page and Ava, who serve as the theatre company’s ‘social media gurus.’ However, Page and Ava are also no strangers to performance, having previously performed with Bolyea in HTI’s Broadway Dreamers show, which brought parents and their children together onstage.
Emerson’s first production was an outdoor, Halloween-themed performance at Dundurn Castle in October 2020. The company put out a call for submissions, wrote some of their own, and had a completed show assembled within a week. Finding success in their first production, the duo repeated the formula in 2021, this time heading east to host the performance at Felker’s Falls in Stoney Creek.
“We sold out every performance and enjoyed every single minute of it.” Micevski and Bolyea note.
As the pandemic continued, Emerson Arts found many of their plans cancelled. The company was dealt a further blow when the Staircase Theatre announced its closure following their 2021 Christmas performance. Needing a new venue to call home, Emerson Arts looked to another performing space that was deeply rooted in community and family; The Pearl Company.
With restrictions now lifted and a venue secured, Emerson Arts is preparing for its first production of 2022; an original production entitled Mom’s Moving, which found its inspiration within Bolyea’s family. Surrounded by farmers’ fields, a birchbox meadow and moving boxes, Micevski wrote the play from start to finish in a single day.
“When Emily’s mother decided to sell her home, Mason went to the home up north to stay for a week, secluded and alone. In that week, he wrote three full length plays and a musical.” Micevski and Bolyea explained. “Mom’s Moving is inspired by Emily’s mom’s story- but not based on it.”
To cast the show, Micevski and Bolyea looked to their community theatre roots. In addition to Bolyea, the production features Hamilton Theatre Inc. veterans Mike Jenson and Chantal Furtado and Theatre Ancaster performer Jan Delsey.
With the themes of family, saying goodbye to a long-term home and moving on, Mom’s Moving will likely strike a too-resonant chord with those preparing for the closing of another Hamilton arts venue.
The production will be one of the last performances at The Pearl Company. Sold in 2020 to buyers planning to convert the building into affordable housing, approvals were granted by the City of Hamilton in late June. Work will begin on the conversion of the building within the next few weeks.
Who: Emerson Arts
What: Mom’s Moving
Where: The Pearl Company (16 Stephen Street)
When: July 7- 9 at 8pm; July 9 & 10 at 2pm
Tickets: $25 at https://www.ticketscene.ca/list.php?q=pearl+company