UP The Play That Goes Wrong1

The Play That Goes Wrong from University Players.

“The arts are an essential element of education, just like reading, writing, and arithmetic.” – William Bennett, former US Secretary of Education

In a shocking and deeply disappointing turn of events, two pillars of Windsor-Essex’s vibrant theatre community have announced their closure. The University of Windsor’s callous decision to shut down the University Players after 65 years of nurturing young talent, coupled with the unexpected closure of Migration Hall in Kingsville after three decades of entertaining residents, has sent shockwaves through the local arts scene. These actions are a testament to the shortsightedness and cultural apathy of those in positions of power.


The University Players has been a launching pad for countless aspiring actors, directors, and theatre professionals. Notable alumni include Tony Award-winning actor Scott Wentworth, Stratford Festival regular Stephen Ouimette, and acclaimed playwright and director Tara Beagan. These individuals, among many others, have made significant contributions to the arts, both in Canada and internationally, thanks to the foundation laid by their time with the University Players.

It is appalling to see bureaucrats and decision-makers at the University of Windsor and Migration Hall prioritize short-term financial concerns over the long-term cultural health of the community. Their actions demonstrate a blatant disregard for the immense value that theatre brings to the lives of individuals and the collective well-being of the region. This lack of appreciation for the arts from all levels of authority, including governments and institutional heads, is deplorable and threatens to drive creators and artists away from the area, leaving the city a mere shell of its former self.

The sudden nature of these closures is particularly distressing, leaving students, artists, and patrons scrambling to adapt. The University of Windsor’s decision to shut down the University Players without adequate consultation or consideration for the impact on students’ education is a betrayal of trust and a disservice to the next generation of theatre professionals.

While it is true that other venues and theatre companies in the area, such as The Shadowbox Theatre, Sho Art Studios, Chrysler Theatre, Capitol Theatre, The Bank Theatre, Kordazone Theatre, and to a lesser extent, school halls and Olde Walkerville Theatre, continue to operate and contribute to the local arts scene, the loss of the University Players and Migration Hall leaves a significant void that will be difficult to fill. These remaining institutions, along with companies like Windsor Light Music Theatre, ACT, Post Productions, Korda Artistic Productions, Cardinal Music Productions and others, are showing no signs of slowing down and continue to provide high-quality productions that engage and inspire audiences.

However, the closure of the University Players and Migration Hall will limit opportunities for aspiring artists to hone their craft, reduce the diversity of cultural offerings available to residents, and diminish the region’s ability to attract and retain creative talent.

This devastating blow comes at a time when Windsor already ranks among the lowest in Canada for per-capita arts funding. Artists in the community have long struggled to sustain their creative practices due to insufficient municipal support. The closure of these two theatre entities will only exacerbate the challenges faced by the arts community, making it even more difficult for artists to thrive in an already unsustainable environment.

It is crucial that the community rallies together to demand accountability from those responsible for these shortsighted decisions. We must hold our elected officials, university administrators, and community leaders to a higher standard when it comes to supporting and nurturing the arts. It is time for them to recognize the vital role that theatre and the arts play in the social, cultural, and economic well-being of our city.

The loss of the University Players and Migration Hall is a devastating blow to the Windsor-Essex theatre scene, but it is not an insurmountable one. With the support of the community, the passion of local artists, and the determination to preserve and promote the arts, Windsor-Essex can rise above this challenge and continue to be a beacon of creativity and cultural excellence. However, it will require a concerted effort from all stakeholders to ensure that the legacy of these institutions is not forgotten and that the region’s theatre scene emerges stronger and more resilient than ever before.

“Art is not a mirror held up to reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” – Bertolt Brecht

It is time for the people of Windsor to wield that hammer and shape a reality in which the arts are valued, supported, and celebrated as an integral part of our community’s identity. We must not allow bureaucratic shortsightedness and cultural apathy to extinguish the creative spirit that has long been a source of pride and inspiration for our city. The future of the Windsor-Essex theatre scene hangs in the balance, and it is up to us to ensure that it thrives for generations to come.


Feel Free to Leave a Comment