Finding the missing link in London’s theatre community
London Community News
By Sean Meyer/London Community News/Twitter: Newswriter22
Rick Kish wants to celebrate London theatre and provide local actors with a link between the strong amateur community and the top end professionals on stage at the Grand.
To forge that link, Kish — the former artistic director at Port Stanley Festival Theatre and the Bluewater Summer Playhouse — decided the time was right to start his own company. For Kish, who achieved his masters of music theatre at Western University, that timing was assisted by none other than television megastar Oprah Winfrey.
“I was thinking I will start applying for some artistic director jobs, but then I thought, why should I leave?” said Kish, who added it was while watching an Oprah interview with the head of the House of Gucci that his inspiration was found. “He said until he decided he didn’t want to work for someone else, he wasn’t successful. When he decided to go with his own ideas, he found success. So I thought maybe now was the time to start something in London.”
Kish said it was October or November 2011 that he began formulating his plans for A Missing Link Theatre Company. The idea then Kish said, as it is now, was to create that “missing link” between London’s “really strong amateur theatre community” and the professional opportunities at the Grand Theatre.
So 18 months ago, when Kish formed A Missing Link Theatre Company he took on the role of founding artistic director. Actually, Kish said the title could be artistic producer, as he is busy doing “all the jobs required to put on a show.”
That first show will come with a run of A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline, from Oct. 30 to Nov. 11, at the Grand’s McManus Theatre. Kish will be directing Barbara-Lyn Redpath, as Patsy Cline, and Dwayne Adams, as Little Big Man.
Kish said he decided on A Closer Walk because of the “intense amount of respect” he has for his two actors. In addition, Kish praises the efforts of the shows six mentorship students who he worked with at the Grand’s High School Project.
Kish said his actors, volunteers such as Carolyn Cameron and Dorothy Downs, indeed everyone involved in this inaugural production have given him all the inspiration he needs to pull this company together.
“At the end of the day, they have taken a risk and there might not be any money. But as professionals, they are taking the risk with me, and that is the greatest gift,” Kish said. “To find a group willing to take that risk with me, it overwhelms me. I have such respect for these people.”
The respect and compassion Kish said he feels for everyone involved in A Missing Link has proven to be both a positive and a hindrance. After all, not everyone feels as passionate about his objectives as Kish does.
“There were times I would be making phone calls and you think everyone is just going to buy in, but not everyone does. It is a matter of getting past that and not taking things personally,” Kish said. “I am really pleased with the way things have come together. The people who are working with me in this company are equally invested; they are excited about it and working hard to make it happen.”
Kish said he has a five-year business plan that will hopefully bring A Missing Link to a break even point and eventually status as a non-profit operation. As he is admittedly “not a wealthy man,” Kish said it has been vital to find investors who believe in what he is doing.
With a background operating 150-seat and 106-seat venues, Kish said he is confident about being able to run what he hopes will soon become a mid-sized company, settling in at around 350 seats. Of course, he also has more long range plans for A Missing Link as well.
“In October 2112, they will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of A Missing Link Theatre Company,” Kish said. “I won’t be there, but I hope A Missing Link will stand the test of time and do really well in bringing good, strong, professional theatre to London.”
Another goal — somewhat more modest than a 100-year celebration — will see Kish bring back those individuals who felt they had to leave the Forest City to find success.
“I want to celebrate London. So what I want to do is bring back people who have left London and found success elsewhere,” Kish said. “I want to bring them back and celebrate their success here in their own hometown. That would be a great feeling.”
Tickets for A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline are $15 to $25 and are available by calling the Grand Theatre Box Office at 519-672-8800 or by going online at www.grandtheatre.com. For more information on A Missing Link Theatre Company, visit www.amissinglinktheatre.ca.
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