Act Two of the Shakespeare drama over a student play in an Old Ottawa South backyard is expected to play out today.
The Company of Adventurers co-founder Paul Keen tells CTV Morning Live that he’s been told Ottawa Bylaw officers will be visiting his home to inspect the makeshift stage set up in his backyard.
The Ottawa youth theatre troupe has been fighting to continue performing Shakespeare’s “The Comedy of Errors” in the backyard at Keen’s home after Bylaw officers initially shut down the play last week due to a zoning issue.
The troupe was allowed to perform the play on Sunday for family members, but when and where the next act happens is up in the air.
The drama over the summer production started last Thursday, when Ottawa Bylaw says it responded to a complaint in regards to a theatre company that was being operated out of a residential backyard in Old Ottawa South in contravention of the Zoning Bylaw. An Bylaw officer issued a verbal warning that the play is not permitted on residential property.
The Company of Adventurers planned to take donations for the Ottawa Food Bank during the performance, and all performers would have worn a mask.
Mayor Jim Watson said staff offered the use of Windsor Park free of charge for the performances, but Keen said the logistics of moving the play somewhere else wouldn’t work because of the set.
Keen told CTV Morning Live on Monday that the challenges of Windsor Park include no stage and change rooms for costume changes. Keen says they had offers to use other places in Ottawa for the play, but timing didn’t work out.
In a statement Friday afternoon, Ottawa Bylaw said this weekend’s performance for family members would be allowed to take place in the backyard
Now, Keen says Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman wants to see the stage.
“Chapman reacted to our explanation that we cannot just up and shift to Windsor Park because we have a stage set by demanding to know if we have a building permit,” said Keen in an email on Sunday to CTV Morning Live.
“We’re concerned that this had nothing at all to do with the original complaint, so Bylaw is just looking for ways to escalate this.”
Speaking on CTV Morning Live Monday morning, Keen expressed frustration with the process for putting on a summer play in his backyard with students.
“When we explained to (city staff) because we have a set we couldn’t easily move to Windsor Park, they said ‘do you have a building permit for that set? We better come and inspect that.’ So, one more thing,” said Keen.
“It’s nuts, it’s just nuts.”
Keen explains his stage is “basically a few two-by-fours and some vinyl from Home Depot.”
CTV News Ottawa has reached out to Ottawa Bylaw and Regulatory Services for comment.