Two Houses Theatre
The Two Houses Theatre Company had a very simple beginning — a one-act play entitled “Bob’s Date” that Jana Henderson, a volunteer at Spencer House Seniors Centre on Halifax’s Morris Street, had offered to direct, making it the Centre’s very first dramatic offering. The Centre was already offering its members a variety of physical and social activities, but until the Fall of 2012, it had never attempted any kind of theatrical performance.
Ms Henderson gained a co-director when Mark DeWolf, a veteran of the Halifax theatre and radio drama scene, discovered Spencer House, and the play “Bob’s Date” — about a man’s conflicted thoughts about getting back into the “dating scene” — was performed as a dramatic reading, the actors delivering their lines while sitting in a row of chairs or performing simple actions. The positive reception the play received encouraged Spencer House to continue with this drama initiative, and Mark DeWolf became the Centre’s drama volunteer, a position which he has held ever since.
The first major production of the fledgling theatrical troupe was a full-length play, “A Good Church”, which had originally been a radio play, written by DeWolf and his CBC Radio partner, Ray Whitley. Because the script called for young actors as well as more senior ones, an invitation to Laing House, the Barrington Street centre for young people challenged by mental illness, yielded some very talented performers, and from this collaboration came the idea of naming the drama group the Two Houses Theatre Company, a name that also evokes the famous opening line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, “Two houses, both alike in dignity.” The next production also featured young people from Laing House, and subsequent productions have included students from the University of King’s College and Dalhousie.
Since 2012, the Two Houses Theatre Company has rehearsed and performed a variety of one-act and full-length plays, some of them — like “It’s a Grand Old World” and “Buddies"— full-fledged musicals. But until 2018, all of these performances were staged for dinner theatre audiences in the Spencer House dining room. It was not until February of 2018 that the drama group performed a one-act play, “Would You Believe It?” at a venue other than Spencer House, on a stage at Harris Hall, part of the Parkland on the Lakes Seniors Complex in Dartmouth. The play was also performed for other seniors at Halifax’s Melville Lodge and Joseph Howe Manor. Since then, a number of the Spencer House productions have been performed at a variety of venues in the HRM, including the Central Library. One production even “went on the road”, the cast and crew travelling to Debert to perform one of their plays in the conference centre there.
One member of the current lineup of Spencer House actors, Marilyn MacDonald, has been in just about every production the Two Houses company has put on. As soon as the Centre re-opens, we will continue rehearsing our latest play, entitled “Where’s Marjorie?”, and in that play, Marilyn plays the central character Marjorie.
These dramatic endeavours have been very helpful in raising the profile of Spencer House in the community, as several of the productions have received some publicity on CBC and CTV, as well as receiving extensive coverage in the Chronicle-Herald newspaper.
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Contact Director Mark DeWolf at