Theatre (and More) in the Round(house)
“It should be remarkable” was how VP Strategy Shawn Adamsson phrased one of the points in his extensive wish list for the new home of Ellipsis Digital and Engine SevenFour. Shawn got his wish in spades with the London Roundhouse. We love our new space. And it’s no surprise that other people do as well.
We first opened our doors to visitors on April 23. About 800 people came. The Roundhouse reduced normally eloquent people to inarticulate interjections.
Months later, our IT specialist still sees this happen. Owing to our seating arrangements, Stuart Clark is the first person most visitors see when they enter the Roundhouse. Which means he’s also the first to see visitors’ faces. He says he can always tell who’s visiting for the first time. “Their eyes look up, their jaws drop, and there’s this expression of wonderment,” says Stu, who notes that this sometimes also happens on repeated visits.
The Roundhouse also fulfills another part of the wish list. Shawn and the rest of the leadership team wanted a home that we could share with our community. We define “community” in a whole lot of ways, though. Our geographic community. Our social community. Our professional community. Our educational community. Our arts community. Our heritage community.
Our first community event, on May 14th, was a celebration day for Women Together, where participants and coaches came and shared stories and vision boards. Rachel Berdan, our VP Sales, is Women Together’s acting board chair.
A month passed. In retrospect, a lovely, quiet month. Then came the week of June 14. It started out unremarkably: Sunday, no one here. Monday, business as usual. Then… Tuesday, we hosted the SoHo Community Association’s annual general meeting, which featured a Back to the River presentation from the London Community Foundation’s Martha Powell. Wednesday, local author Chris Loblaw launched his book The Patchwork Boy, portions of which take place in the Roundhouse.
Thursday, the Western Alumni association took over for a London alumni event. VP of Quality Assurance (and the quietest of our three co-founders) Josh Dow is a Western alumnus, along with a few other staff members—we didn’t all go to Trent University.
By Friday, our event team—Shawn, Stuart, and Jennifer Murray—were pretty tuckered out. So we let our friends at YOU run the barbeque, and we opened the event to everyone. And everyone showed up—people from all of our communities. According to Facebook, more than 100 people. We’d already enjoyed the YOU jams—Shawn recommends the Saskatoon Berry—and soups; their burgers and salads were equally delicious, and everyone enjoyed their lunches.
Then, because we can’t get enough of this stuff (read: “because we are cuckoo”), on June 25th we opened our doors for Throwback Thursday, and visitors were entertained and enlightened by Shawn, who shared stories of the Roundhouse’s history. (Mr. Adamsson alleges that at one point, talking to this many people at one time would have given him hives. No one enthralled by his narratives would believe that now.)
Four days later, on June 29th, We Are Cities brought a roundtable discussion into our Roundhouse. Amanda Stratton, who was part of the organizing team, explained that the roundtable brought together Londoners who are actively working to improve our community to create a shared vision of what we want London to become. “The ideas will inform an action plan that's being created by pulling together the results of roundtables across Canada, but we also tried to pinpoint some action items that we as a group could tackle locally right away."
Amanda added, "The Roundhouse is not just a beautiful and functional space; it's inspiring. For us, the fact that it exists because a group of people wanted to do something excellent in and for London fit well. But the same elements that I'm sure give it a wonderful energy as a workplace have the same effect for this type of collaborative, creative workshop."
And because we don’t know when to stop creating and collaborating, we sent out a message to all for July 3: Let’s Do That Again. YOU came back for another barbecue, with Westminster Park taking the role of our house band.
The requests to use our brick and beam beauty keep coming. If you’re reading this the week we post it—that being July 20—you’re in time to see the first production of Troubadour Theatre Collective, a reimagining of Romeo and Juliet. Francesca Ranalli, Troubadour Theatre Collective founder, and the director of this inaugural production, says that “the story is still relevant culturally, socially, politically,” and she wanted the audience to “relate wholly—this is not a period piece.” To that end, she was looking to create a site-specific production. Peter Janes, the producer, suggested the Roundhouse. Francesca says the space is “very urban, very contemporary,” and she took one look and said, “This is perfect.”
For the next few weeks, the Roundhouse will be (relatively) quiet, aside from the noise that the Ellipsis and Engine SevenFour teams generate. We will have one event: another big YOU BBQ on July 31—you are invited. (If you want to make sure you know about Roundhouse events like this, follow us on Facebook and our various Twitter feeds.)
The next big event is Friday, August 14th, when we’ll host a concert by Sarah Smith, who is donating her time and talent to raise funds for Everleigh Pierce and her family. Everleigh suffers from primary pulmonary hypertension, a rare condition that narrows the arteries in her lungs, limiting their ability to provide oxygen to her body. A heart and lung transplant is the only cure, but funds raised will help offset the expense of Everleigh’s medications and treatment. Tickets are available at the door, or in advance at Ticket Scene.
After that, who knows? We’ll be part of Doors Open London the last weekend in September, hosting the Musicians of Orchestra London and the Poets of London Poetry Slam. We’ve not done any weddings yet, although there have been inquiries. We’re certainly open to all reasonable requests; heck, we’d probably entertain some unreasonable ones as well…
If you’re interested in sharing our space, contact us at email@example.com. And if you want some of the work we’re really known for, which includes award-winning website development, graphic design and social media strategy, contact us.