Shedding light on theatre

May I make the following hopefully illuminating comments with regard to Alanna Matthew’s letter of March 30. Many of the seats from the former Pen High auditorium have indeed been installed in Oliver’s Venables Theatre. The seats as well as the lighting equipment, the property of School District 67, were sent to Oliver to be part of the upgrade of the school auditorium rather than being scrapped or sent out of the district.

As they didn’t pertain to the new locale, the “plastic” dedication plaques which had been glued onto the wooden seatbacks were removed. In the process of removal, many of the adhesives with the lettering of the seat “adopter” would have been mutilated.

However, a complete list of the names of the adoptees (individuals, organizations and companies), have been recorded. It has been the intention of the Penticton and District Performing Arts Facilities Society to have a commemoration plaque made including the total list of names of the adoptees. This would be installed in a communal area of the proposed South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre, in remembrance of their participation. Note, the monies received from donors were only partial-payment for the refurbishing of the seats and in no way covered the complete cost.

With regard to the suggested use of the 50-plus-year-old seats and the Pen High lighting equipment for the Shatford Auditorium, it has been the wise decision of the custodians of the Shatford to keep this facility as a recital hall for which it is ideally suited, with its fine natural acoustics and elegant setting.

With individual chair seating (that can be ganged in rows) it can readily be adapted to audiences of all sizes from 50 up to 300, or can be used in a dinner-theatre configuration or even left open for dancing or small exhibitions. This versatility would not be possible with fixed seating. With existing footlights and stanchions the minimal required lighting can readily be placed.

We can add the Okanagan Symphony and its Penticton devotees to the casualty list with of the lack of a performance site. The Cleland’s 432-seat capacity makes it financially tight, let alone the loss of this theatre for a complete season. Yes, we do need a real “performing arts centre” in Penticton and yes, we’ll have to fund-raise and strongly keep pushing for such a home for the performing arts.

Don Forsyth

Penticton