The King’s Town Players talk to the journal about their newest production
and welcoming all types into their theatrical sandbox.

October 29, 2010 - Volume 138, Issue 17
by Jaclyn Gruenberger, Contributer

The King’s Town Players, a new company in the Kingston community theatre scene, want you to delve into your inner zombie.

The Night of the Living Dead, a stage adaptation of the 1968 cult horror film, is the second production of the group’s inaugural season. It features dancing zombies, multimedia presentations and 25 feet of real pig intestines.

"We thought, that’s crazy enough to work," Clay Garrett said, one of the four founders of King’s Town Players.

This sort of adventurous and creative thinking is the force behind the troupe. Founded last year by Myriam Beaulne, Kevin Fox, Clay Garrett and Krista Garrett, King’s Town Players is bringing quality volunteer theatre to Kingston. The Players are looking to create a group in which all members of the Kingston community can work together in a volunteer-focused environment.

"We want to create a volunteer organization that is very strong for its volunteers. We want to make sure we appreciate them," Clay said.

The Players are also focused on the diversity of their volunteers, and encourage participation from anyone from long-time Kingston residents to new Queen’s students.

"For Night of the Living Dead, we’ve got a great mix. We’ve got Queen’s students, St. Lawrence students, older people; there are theatre veterans and people who are new to the game," Krista said. "We want to have everyone play in our sandbox."

The King’s Town Players’ metaphorical sandbox changes location with each production, as the Players currently have no permanent theatre space. The company’s debut production, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), was performed in Convocation Hall on Queen’s campus.

"We really wanted to use our first two shows to make our connections to Queen’s campus, to encourage students to come out and audition for our shows," Clay said. "We wanted to give students the idea that there is something outside of campus."

Along with bridging the gap between Queen’s and Kingston community theatre, the Players are determined to establish Kingston as a theatre destination comparable to Toronto or Stratford. They’re eager to assert theatre-going as a popular form of entertainment in Kingston.

"Whether you’re in the audience, or onstage, or backstage for that matter, it’s something very different. A movie is always going to be the same, but when it comes to theatre, it’s alive," Clay said.

"You can dress up as a zombie or you can dress up for dinner, but people should want to go see theatre in Kingston," Krista said. "There’s a huge talent bank here that’s underutilized."

In order to dip into this talent bank, the Players have a full season of shows planned for the upcoming year. After a comedy and a horror-comedy, the company is broadening its repertoire with several dramas, including Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile and Judith Thompson’s Perfect Pie.

"We picked different types of things to attract different people," Clay said. "We wanted a balance - some serious, some funny. We picked things so everything started off fun and hilarious and ends with something deep and moving like Perfect Pie."

Whether they’re producing a wacky parody or a sombre character study, the Players cite their passion and excitement for the theatre as one of the core reasons for their success.

"It doesn’t matter if you’re doing a hardcore tragedy or the funniest show going - if people are having a blast, it shines through," Clay said.

The Players are steadily gaining support from the local Kingston community. Along with trading advertising space with other Kingston theatre companies like Blue Canoe, the Players have collaborated with local band REVMATIC, The Kingston School of Dance and the amazingly appropriate Zombie Defence League for Night of the Living Dead.

"We’ve got a lot of support from people," Clay said. "If we work together and encourage each other, what we’re doing is we’re building a market. We’re getting people used to having that avenue for that source of entertainment."

King’s Town Players encourages Queen’s students to both audition for and see their shows in the interest of fostering the Kingston theatre community.

"What we can do is teach new audience members to come and see what we’re doing," Clay said. "Hopefully if we’re doing a good job they’re going to come back."

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