Courtenay’s Sid Williams Theatre Society kicks off its Blue Circle Series with “something for everyone”

Next in line for the series is a performance by rock band Whitehorse.

There’s an old movie theatre in Winnipeg, the Park Theatre, that Deborah Renz used to frequent as a kid. Now it’s become one of the busiest live performance venues in the city, and Renz feels a little cheated since she can’t experience it herself. But the theatre extraordinaire, who has a creative writing degree from York university and a masters in arts administration from SFU, has been seeing plenty of action as the general manager of the Sid Williams Theatre Society since Y2K. 

The Courtenay-based performance arts centre actually used to be a movie theatre when it was built in 1935. Now it’s a community organization of 500 members, 16 full-time staff and 100 volunteers. It usually hosts around 50,000 people a year, but saw two years of complete disruption due to COVID. This past Saturday, the theatre society kicked off its Blue Circle Series with a presentation of LOON (a wordless love story with masks, costumes and sound effects) by Victoria-based physical theatre company, Wonderheads.

“We have a really strong mandate to present a diverse range of entertainment,” says Renz. “I think this is probably one of our most eclectic and diverse seasons in many years.”  

The Blue Circle Series is Sid Williams’s headline entertainment series. While it hosts commercial events by companies like Live Nation as well as community organizations, it also has its own programming, including the Centre Stage series, the Sid Docs and Sid Family Films series, and, of course, the Blue Circle Series.  

“We have a very careful selection process for choosing acts to go in that,” Renz insists. “We launched Blue Circle about 10 years ago, consisting of, on average, 16 to 24 performances a year. We added more youth and family entertainment, and we [now] have a much more multicultural flavor to the series as well.” 

Rock band Whitehorse is performing next in the series, on October 9th, with an all-ages show(even though its main audience is usually people in their 20s). After that, the facility is hosting Vancouver Island’s award-winning Ballet Victoria on October 25th. But Renz’s personal favourite is actually taking place on November 26.  

“It’s a production called ‘Ridge,’” she says of Canadian spoken word artist, musician and novelist Brendan McLeod’s upcoming show. “This is a combination theatre piece, spoken word performance and musical performance. It’s his own personal exploration of the experience of World War I and a lot of it is excerpts from people’s personal diaries, letters home and things like that. A really moving production.”