Just over a year after creating Timberbeast Productions, Autumn Smith is preparing for a busy end to 2022 as the Gravenhurst-based theatre company continues to grow.
Smith is the Artistic and Executive Director and says they will be performing three plays before the end of a year, with a fourth scheduled for early 2023. “It’s a busy time for us here,” she says. “We’re really excited a bring a new style of theatre to Muskoka by sharing the Muskoka narrative with a wider audience.”
The plays are a mix of original performances like Souls of the Shield and “Muskokanized” versions of classic tales like A Christmas Carol and Twelfth Night.
“It’s a piece that delves into our spectral halves,” explains Smith about Souls of the Shield. “It exhumes ghosts and their backstories and it dives a little into true crime in the area.”
The play will feature eight pieces done between two venues in Gravenhurst and the Muskoka Foundry in Bracebridge.
Twelfth Night is done at the Gravenhurst Wharf. “It’s a spectacular setting,” Smith says. “The sun setting over the steamships is breathtaking and I thought what a wonderful place to take in a live performance.”
The play is set in Gravenhurst in 1919. “It’s post World War 1, people are grieving, people are lost, people are rebuilding their lives after The Great War,” she says. “It’s all about mistaken identity, grief, and that act of healing and finding love in very difficult times.”
Tickets are ‘pay what you can’ with a suggested donation of $20. “We want to share this with as many people as possible,” Smith says.
“It’s a great opportunity to get to know the area in a really intimate way,” Smith says, adding the community has stories dating back “hundreds” of years. “It’s amazing what the shield and the water hold in its memory. I’m excited about unearthing all those possibilities.”
Smith says the company’s growth only one year after being established is “terrifying and exciting.”
“It’s worth risking big,” she says. “This community has so much memory held in its land and it’s such an honour to live here and to work here and to create something new here.”
As a growing company, Smith says they’re always looking for new hands to help, whether as actors or behind-the-scenes crew. “There is something for everyone,” she says. That includes joining their board of directors, providing housing for actors, or helping at the box office on play nights.
Smith says she wants to expand on the original plays they offer. “If you have a story about this place that you think would be a great play, please share it with us,” she says.