A brief history of the Williams Lake Studio Theatre
The Williams Lake theatre scene had been pretty much a hit-and-miss affair until one of Canada’s most noted playwrights – Gwen Pharis Ringwood—moved to Williams Lake in 1953.
It wasn’t long after her arrival in Williams Lake that the embers of theatre roared to life. Through writers groups and workshops, Ringwood cultivated a theatre company that vibrated with energy and often marched to the words of Ringwood’s latest writings. It was in these years that Williams Lake Studio Theatre was forged and in full measure of will, her inspiration carried on. To honor Gwen Pharis Ringwood, Studio Theatre entered the play Still Stands The House in the provincial festival in 1996. That production celebrated 40 years of theatre tradition that began in 1955.
The growth of theatre in Williams Lake continued through the intervening years and Ringwood was someone who pushed for the Players to become involved in the provincial community theatre festival process, which the company did in 1959. It has been involved ever since. In 1973, Theatre B.C. presented its highest honor - the Eric Hamber Award, to Ringwood at a presentation at Government House in Victoria. Presenting the award, for distinguished service to the development of theatre, was then Lt.-Gov. Henry Bell-Irving.
In 1986 the Studio Theatre at Cariboo College opened the season with Arsenic and Old Lace and was officially opened by then Lt. –Governor Bob Rogeres. Wrote Clive Stango, a long-time Players member and newspaper editor: “It is the first true home for a club that has been seeking one for over 30 years.” The new home was short-lived, as the college grew the need for space terminated the lease.
With no immediate home, school District 27 stepped in and offered the company space at Glendale Elementary School, thus The Studio Theatre at Glendale Elementary was born. That relationship has continued in to our 50th season and we are very grateful to the school district for their continued support of our quaint 98 seat theatre. Perhaps one day we will be able to sustain a larger self-contained theatre with rehearsal hall, library, office, music room and much more. The dream is still alive and one day may happen but until it does we are grateful for the Glendale Theatre space and also would like to thank the Williams Lake community for their unwavering support for over 50 years.
In 2001 the City of Williams Lake opened the Gwen Pharis Ringwood stage, an open-air, covered performance space in Boitanio Park.
(Exerpts from an article written in 2005 to commemorate our 50th season!)