The Sanderson Centre – temporarily closed, but not forgotten


Chris Funk, The Wonderist, displayed a mixture of magic and mentalism at his most recent showing at the Sanderson Centre for the performing arts. The show engaged the audience, at 50 percent capacity, bringing them on stage to assist with pieces and asking them to collect objects and write things down. The reasonably sized audience left happy, while the crew loved the show and found it to be an innovative experience. 


The majority of shows running at the Sanderson Centre are available at a discounted rate of $20 to university students through the Ugo program, which was first established by the River Runs performing arts centre in Guelph. This is similar to the eyeGo program targeted to high school students. It’s another province wide initiative that proves imitation is the sprouting of many wonderful ideas to make the arts more accessible. 


According to new provincial guidelines, all theatres will be closed until Jan. 26, though it should be noted that the Sanderson Centre was already running at 50 percent capacity upon this closure and so awaits its hopeful return to re-opening. 


The theatre is available to re-open following provincial and local health guidelines, though it is unsure what that will look like until the new mandates are announced. Shows that were directly affected due to approaching dates and large audiences have been postponed until later in the spring. In accordance with dates and artist availability, a mutually workable schedule has been created so that postponed and shifted shows have been made to run next season in the fall. 


Theatre manager Glenn Brown shared excitement for when programming is set to be back in the theatre. Brown is happy with the season planned, which is said to be “a great program for when it can happen”. 


The Mush Hole, is one such event planned for March 30. It will tell the community’s dark history of being the first residential school at what was the Mohawk Institute (1828-1970), now a museum marking that history in the form of the Woodland Cultural Centre. 


It is a theatrical dance performance, which as Sanderson Centre’s website states, tells viewers about how  “the church and state attempted to forcefully assimilate children from Six Nations and surrounding First Nations into Euro-Christian society and sever the continuity of culture from parent to child.” 


The website shared that the show features traumatic memories of two generations of survivors, with an all Indigenous cast, that is said to “catapult audiences into the brick and mortar of the school” while giving breadth to their testimony. 


“It is a story about hope and finding light in dark places,” stated Sanderson Centre’s website. 


Brown listed some of the “comedy (acts) needed in these times,” of Gerry Dee, Brent Butt and Paul Reiser, have been pushed into the fall. 


In the last few years, commencement ceremonies have been completed virtually, with this year’s spring planned commencement-graduation ceremony being postponed. The Sanderson Centre has enjoyed being the home to these rites of passages, in addition to orientation week. 


“[The Sanderson Centre] looks forward to the day we can welcome students back in, to share in those celebrations.” said Brown.

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