Some people work hard for many years building knowledge and developing skills so they can work their way up through the corporate world or through entrepreneurship to become wealthy – or at least comfortable. Other people are artists. They, too, have worked for many years to build knowledge and develop skills. But they’re driven by something other than a desire for wealth, an alternative desire that keeps them mired in poverty, always on the verge of ruin. They’re driven to create. Some artists creep even closer to the edge of the abyss and settle there by forming theatre companies. What’s wrong with these people? What drives them to such self-destructive and irrational habits?

This summer regional independent theatre company Post Productions – in collaboration with dozens of actors, filmmakers, and other artists from across Windsor-Essex – is filming a new web series that answers these questions. This eight-episode series, (up)Staged, tells the tale of a struggling independent regional theatre company coincidently called Post Productions that operates a small black box venue called The Shadowbox Theatre in Windsor, Ontario. Yes, the company is real and the theatre is real and the city is real and all the stories and characters in the series are drawn from real experiences – but all of this reality is being fictionalized so Post Productions can tell the most entertaining stories possible while avoiding litigation. Artistic Director Fay Lynn and Managing Director Michael K. Potter play fictionalized versions of themselves in the series, as does costumer Karen Kilbride. These people are mad, no doubt, as all artists must be, yet they’re also sane enough to know that the real experiences of theatre artists are best told through the exaggeration and absurdity of comedy.


The series begins after Post Productions, struggling to stay afloat in the post-Covid world of hyperinflation and audiences who’ve spent three years getting used to staying inside instead of going out to have a good time, invites a documentary crew to film them and the artists they work with as they attempt to stage a brand-new production: the long awaited and quietly unauthorized sequel to the modern classic play Equus. They don’t really want to do this. Lynn and Potter aren’t at all comfortable being filmed as they go about their day-to-day business. Lynn, especially, tends to freeze up whenever she realizes a camera is pointed at her. Potter doesn’t know when cameras are pointed at him because he’s blind, but he hates the idea. Nevertheless, the economy has rendered them desperate. The film crew has promised that their docuseries will bring a lot of exposure and awareness to the company, which as all artists know is just as good as money.

The day the film crew arrives at The Shadowbox Theatre Post Productions has just finished a play and is getting ready for the next one. The set of the previous production is still up. Nobody seems to be in a rush to tear it down except Lynn, even though they’re supposed to hold auditions for the new play tomorrow. The Post team – which also includes Outreach Director Gordie and set designer Bruce – is eagerly awaiting the arrival of a big-name Toronto director they’ve splurged on for this production, Nicole Jonasson, and the playwright they commissioned to write the script for this ostentatious sequel, Wright Lloyd-Jones. Turns out Jonasson is stuck in Toronto but Lloyd-Jones eventually arrives for the production meeting. This man is legendary, the Canadian equivalent of America’s David Mamet and England’s Harold Pinter. He’s reclusive and shy. Few people have interacted with him for more than a few seconds despite the fact that more than 300 of his scripts have been produced over the years. He’s the sort of hero people talk about in hushed, respectful whispers, more mythical than real.

Yet, when Wright Lloyd-Jones (played by Joey Ouellette) finally arrives for the meeting it’s immediately clear that he’s not the man the Post team thought he would be. There is something clearly wrong with him. He struggles to communicate in normal human language. He hasn’t finished the script for the sequel, which is called Twoquus, about a young girl who works at an aviary and develops a psychosexual and religious fixation on a toucan. He has only brought with him a handful of pages in no particular order and a crayon drawing of a bird cage. Auditions, remember, are tomorrow. And the play has to be produced and on stage for audiences in less than three months. This is only the first day and everything is already going disastrously wrong.

This is where (up)Staged begins. Over the course of the series’ eight episodes, the audience gets to see how the team responds to this crisis – and the unrelenting series of crises that follows. They’re treated to the bizarre array of characters that show up to audition for Twoquus and the narcissistic and highly critical director who may need to be fired immediately. All the curtains that hide what normally happens in the world of regional independent theatre, where magic must be created out of scraps of leftovers and a whole lot of nothing, will be pulled back to reveal all the nitty gritty details. Thrill as beleaguered and anxious people try to coordinate actors who are overwhelmed by their own personal problems and who continually destroy their costumes, props, and set pieces! Delight as two theatre companies face off over possession of an abandoned couch! Squeal as the enthusiastic young Outreach Director tries to sell ads that no one wants! Titter as the Managing Director tries vainly to get other theatre companies to cooperate with him! Palpitate as the Artistic Director persistently attempts to convince someone, anyone, to help her with the cavalcade of tasks that need to be completed! Shudder as the production copes with setback after setback until opening night is upon our dog-tired coterie of artists, whether or not they’re ready for it!

(up)Staged was co-created and written in the summer of 2021 by Lynn, Potter, and Purple Theatre Company’s Artistic Director Joey Ouellette (with assistance on some episodes from Nikolas Prsa) as a way of showcasing to the world what Windsor-Essex has to offer. We live in a region blessed and bursting with talent across the entire spectrum of arts. Yet not only does the world not know about our region’s artistic power, many people in Windsor-Essex don’t know about it either. Many different factors contribute to this terrible situation, including the poor and inaccurate opinion people in Windsor-Essex seem to have about themselves and their corner of the world. One problem that Post Productions and several other companies are attempting to solve is that, in theatre and filmmaking at least, we have a community but not yet an actual industry. The talent is here, everywhere we look. Artists in our region continue to create theatre productions and films, yet they do so usually for free, as if their labour is worthless. Even recognizing that what artists do is labour doesn’t occur to many people in Windsor-Essex, including artists. Yet it is. Art is work. Relying on artists to continue working for nothing so we can enjoy the results of their labours has created some poor habits in our region – and has driven many artists to leave Windsor-Essex in search of better opportunities elsewhere. The situation isn’t a given and it isn’t inevitable and it isn’t natural. It’s something we’ve allowed to happen and continue to allow.

But there’s tremendous potential in Windsor-Essex for a thriving arts industry that encompasses theatre, film, and everything else if we all work together to make it a reality. Stratford didn’t start out as the Stratford we know today. Neither did Broadway. Neither did Hollywood. These places became centers of arts-based economies in large part because governments at every level, economic leaders, philanthropists, and most importantly everyday citizens decided the arts were worth their investment. Windsor could become an artistic hub, a region exploding with arts-driven economic activity, a region that not only gives artists a reason to live and pay taxes here but draws in artists and investors from the rest of the country and the world. It also could easily become a destination spot for arts tourism with coordination, cooperation, and investment. Our region already draws some tourists to its theatre productions and to history-based theatre efforts like The Rum Runners Tour. But what we’re seeing is the tiny tip of a very large iceberg.

So, one of the purposes of (up)Staged, aside from providing eight episodes of hilarious entertainment, is to give the citizens of Windsor-Essex a large-scale artistic project they can invest in with confidence, while also pulling in investment from other regions, provinces, and countries. There are dozens of local artists involved in this project who need to be paid for their work. They will be paid through a combination of sponsorships, grants, and crowdfunding. Yep. You read that right. Crowdfunding. This is the 21st century after all. Crowdfunding is the driving force behind many projects these days, so (up)Staged will commence a Kickstarter campaign on 1 May 2024. You’ll be invited to contribute to this campaign to show your support for this project, to ensure artists get paid for their work, to help create a great series that will show Windsor off to the world, and to bring in global revenue that can then be used to invest in other artistic projects in our region to kickstart the development of an actual arts industry in Windsor-Essex. (up)Staged is intended to be the first step, not the last, in a process of investment in multiple projects and continued investment over many years. Every dollar that we, the citizens of Windsor-Essex, contribute to the Kickstarter campaign will bring in several dollars from other parts of the world.

With your help, we can make this happen! There’s already a who’s who of local talent involved in (up)Staged – including a production team that features Ken Amlin, Mitchell Branget, Walter Riggi, Dan and April Savoie, Shane Trowbridge, and more. Rebecca S. Mickle has been hired to coordinate the Kickstarter and sponsorship campaigns and to run the social media accounts that we’ll use to keep you informed about the project as it develops and continually encourage you to support the campaign. Finally, 39 roles are in the process of being cast. The first round of auditions brought in submissions from more than one hundred local actors. Throughout April, we’ll be digging through all of these submissions and scheduling callbacks to finalize our cast. We already know that we have our work cut out for us. There are so many incredible actors in this region that it’s going to be a difficult, nail-biting, task to decide who’s going to play each of the ridiculously fun roles written into the series.

Stay up to date on the development of (up)Staged by following our social media accounts and encouraging your friends and family to do the same! You can find all of our social media accounts and our website at our link tree:


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