TLB’s artistic director says goodbye as she moves on to new artistic endeavours

By Taylor McClure – Special to Brome County News

Theatre appoints new interim artistic director

Ellen David has officially stepped down as the artistic director for Theatre Lac-Brome (TLB). David took on the role in 2019 and organized programs and events for the community during a challenging time with the Covid-19 pandemic. Following two years with the group, David has decided to move on to new artistic endeavors and shares some final thoughts on her time with TLB. Until TLB finds their new artistic director, they have appointed Anne Dubé to interim director to continue to provide entertainment to the community.

“My timing was impeccable, considering what was just around the corner when I started the post in November of 2019,” wrote David in a personal message to Brome County News. “Seriously though, it was wonderful coming back to Theatre Lac-Brome, having worked there over many years as an actor and director and host for anniversary events. It was like a real homecoming, but alas when the pandemic hit a few months later, it proved to be a challenge that no one could have anticipated.”

David lined up a varied programming in both French and English consisting of theatrical presentations, music, comedy, kids programming, special events and opened up the theatre’s lobby to local artists to serve as a gallery each month.

“It was very exciting and I remember looking at the full schedule that took up a whole wall in my office with each type of event represented by a different colour, and it became a kind of vivid rainbow of entertainment that I so looked forward to bringing to our public,” continued David. “But alas, we all know what happened, and as everything ground to a halt worldwide in 2020, it was just not meant to be. We did however manage to have a few safe, socially distanced performances that fall, including Angel Forrest who was so well received that I programmed her into the current season, as well as some other hold-over performers from previous seasons that will certainly spark joy in 2022.”

While 2021 proved to be another challenge, David wanted to give the community the entertainment and events they were looking for, including a Student Theatre Festival in June 2021 for students at Knowlton Academy and École Saint-Édouard, an opening summer fundraiser for TLB with a film presentation of The Chain, and TLB’s annual Gala.

“I am extremely proud of all the other varied and eclectic shows that we provided during my tenure that saw over 2,000 Anglophone and Francophone audience members at almost 30 events, including our Ciné-Club, our Chansons, Café, Croissants matinées, online presentations, and live theatre, such as the Four Anglos Surviving the Covid Apocalypse directed by yours truly. So, while the times indeed had given us a kind of apocalyptic moment, we persevered and did survive it,” added David.

One moment she described as “precious” during her time with TLB was the Heritage Project, funded by Heritage Canada Community Cultural Action Fund, to honour TLB’s 35-year history with community workshops in choir, painting and sculpture, photography and dramatic writing.

The community’s response to the newsletters she started putting together, which included profiles on local individuals and institutions and a section dedicated to those that have support TLB, and TLB’s presence at Brome Lake’s farmer’s market also left their mark.

“I decided to create a presence for the theatre at the week-end farmers market with a table where we could meet and greet the public and inform them in person of our happenings,” explained David. “Our membership and aid for the theatre grew, and we managed to survive and thrive in a very delicate time. When I began, the theatre was experiencing a very precarious moment financially, but with this kind of support, I was thrilled that we not only overcame it, but turned the situation around, so I feel very confident that I am leaving TLB in a state of health.”

Honoured to take the wheel during a new and challenging time for theatre, David is now looking forward to new artistic endeavors in film, directing, workshopping, new plays, and producing.

“I am especially thankful to the wonderful people I met, the performers we engaged, and to the community that supported the theatre with their resources be it financial, or with their time and dedication. Our amazing volunteers were so wonderful and special, and I treasure their friendship and commitment to the theatre. I will always be appreciative to have participated in the furthering of this institution by stepping into the shoes of my dear friends and predecessors at Theatre Lac-Brome, founder Emma Stevens and long-time AD Nicholas Pynes.”

“Ellen is talented and dedicated, she loved the theatre and loved the artists, and I think the whole Lac-Brome environment having played here before in the theatre,” said Jean-Claude Mahé, Chair of the Board. “We wish her well in her new endeavours.”

For the time being, TLB has found an interim artistic director in Anne Dubé and will see how things go until the appoint someone permanently.

“She is very experienced and has worked in three different theatres and venues in the past. She started a few weeks ago and she is already making her mark. We have Gowan here tomorrow night to a very full house and I think it speaks to her experience and her large network of being able to get a variety of artists to this theatre. We are enthused that she accepted,” added Mahé.

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