The Pit, King’s College’s much-loved black box theatre, has received a gift of $500,000 from the Harrison McCain Foundation. Thanks to this gift, the Pit has been transformed by new lighting, seating, storage, sound facilities, and an overall refurbishment. The Pit is home to the King’s Theatrical Society, one of the oldest college theatrical societies in North America,
“Extra-curricular life at King’s College is an integral part of the student experience. The refurbishment of the Pit will enhance this experience in two ways – through the continued production and performance of classic and original works, and by sharing these works and this wonderful resource with the wider Halifax community,” says Ann McCain Evans, Chairperson of the Harrison McCain Foundation.
“For years, some of our students have enjoyed the support of the Harrison McCain Foundation’s scholarship program, for which we are deeply appreciative,” says President George Cooper. “We can now thank the foundation for this boost to our students’ rich extra-curricular life, of which the student-run theatrical society is a big part. Students who come to King’s – even those with no background in theatre – find themselves painting sets, designing posters, writing original works, acting, singing, and trying their hand at directing. ”
Many King’s alumni who got their start in the Pit are now working as professional actors, writers and directors in theatres across Canada and beyond. Actor Ian Deakin (’70) has performed at Neptune, Stratford, and on Broadway. Dora-winning actor John Cleland (’94) worked at Chestnut Tree Theatre in Halifax before heading to the theatres of Toronto and spending many seasons with the Shaw Festival.
Mitchell Cushman (’08) and Simon Bloom (’10), both theatre and English graduates, went on to the University of Alberta to pursue MFA degrees in its prestigious directing program, before founding Outside the March Theatre Company in Toronto.
Griffin McInnes (’11) took his contemporary studies and theatre degree from King’s to Paris, where he is now working for the French sociologist Bruno Latour and studying for a master of science at the School of Experimentation in Arts and Politics. In 2013 McInnes received the prize for best unproduced play in the Atlantic Writing Competition. His play, “Science Inaction: a love story”, premiered at King’s.
Local theatres and groups, including Neptune Theatre, Zuppa Theatre Co, DaPoPo, Bus Stop Theatre, 2b theatre company, and Picnicface, also benefit from members who honed their skills in the Pit.
“We are immensely grateful to the Harrison McCain Foundation for this wonderful gift,” says Dale Godsoe, Chairperson of the King’s Board of Governors, “which has vastly improved conditions in the Pit and made it come alive once more.”
The Pit will have its gala re-opening on 28 March 2014 with a performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. You can book your tickets at: http://ktstwelfth.eventbrite.ca. The link will become live at 9.00 AM Sunday, 23 March 2014.
The Harrison McCain Foundation was established in 1997 by Harrison McCain, C.C., O.N.B., one of the founders of McCain Foods Limited. The foundation champions a wide variety of causes in Atlantic Canada, including the Harrison McCain Scholarships/Bursaries at Atlantic Canadian universities, as well as community organizations, the arts, culture, health and sciences.
The King’s Theatrical Society is one of the oldest theatrical societies in North America and the largest per capita campus society of its kind in North America. Completely student-run, it puts on commercial plays, musicals, original student-written work, and experimental pieces. The Pit, located in the basement of the King’s College Chapel, is its primary venue.