Interactive Science and Theatre Day Camps in the Village of Rosseau

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Last summer The Rosseau Culture and Arts Project (RCAP) started  The  Academy of Arts and Practical Science. We presented a series of interactive workshops with Professor What’z It! It was so successful that since learning is very much part of the RCAP format, as part of our Destination Rosseau 2014 programme, we are holding 2 one-week day camps here in the Village of Rosseau at the New Playhouse in the Agricultural Hall. A Science Camp from July 14-18 and a Theatre Camp August 11-15. Both sessions are designed for all levels and are lead  by experienced professional teachers.

For the Science Camp, I have recruited two of the most energetic young Ontario teachers and I will admit a bit of nepotism in my hiring of them. Katelyn, my niece, and her husband Aaron, are not only Ontario teachers but bring with them dedication, enthusiasm and life experience that is hard to match. For the past two years they have been teaching in Abu Dhabi, previous to that they taught in Warsaw and Korea. And even though they have travelled the world, two summers ago they returned to Canada and got married here in Rosseau. On top of being  popular teachers with the kids, they have a crazy side and  were campers in their younger years. This is an important feature of the academy in that we are more camp than school! In other words, the fun side of learning.

OIMG_0442ur first science camp is designed to be slightly eclectic, and will appeal to kids from age 9 – 14.  Each day is a brief look at one particular branch of science such as paleontology, mechanics, physics, environmental studies  and astronomy. It will include hands-on experiments (safety always coming first) and an examination of cool but important things like solar energy and endangered species. Things will go pop, zoom and splash. And most important, everything we look at is no further than our own backyards ’cause science is everywhere…especially at the cottage.

maskIn August we offer Theatre Camp run by Mary-Francis Goodwin who has years of experience as a theatre arts teacher and director.  She will be accompanied by her daughter Laurie-Ann, an experienced artist in theatre, film and music. We decided that for our first year to present a week that would be perfect for kids ages 10 -14 from all experience levels; a week long camp working with Neutral Mask. For those who need some encouragement to those for whom performing is second nature, this is a camp that focuses on movement and music. Part mime, part dance and tons of fun. The week finishes with a performance for parents and the public.

Camps will run from 9:00 – 3:30, Monday through Friday.  For more information visit

Vince Grittani (executive director Rosseau Culture And Arts Project) 


The Muskoka Independent Film Festival…The Village of Rosseau, a Perfect Setting!

ImageThis summer the tiny Village of Rosseau plays host to The Muskoka Independent Film Festival (MIFF). It is the final event to mark the end of a larger, 2-month, Destination Rosseau, a festival of live theatre, art, music and film.

Personally, I have been wanting to produce a film festival here in the area for years. Although there are a few events that call themselves film festivals in the region, I wanted MIFF to be more than just a series of screenings in one large venue. Plus, I did not want to bring in a prepackaged series either. I see MIFF as being “an event” on its own.

In the early days of the Toronto Film Festival, way before it went all Hollywood, each year I would receive a VIP pass that allowed me into everything. Those were the days when one did not have to pre-register to see a film. You just ran around from venue to venue with the catalogue tucked under your arm and got in line! (Although with the VIP pass you got to go to the front of the line. 🙂 ) . After or before a screening, you and fellow cinefiles would gather in coffee shops or bars, discuss the films you saw and listened for reviews of great flicks that had a second screening. There were parties and yes there were stars, but it was a more subtle display of fan adoration and no red carpet. There were also panel discussions where filmmakers would disclose the stories behind the makings of their projects. This is my vision for MIFF.

This year as my associates, members of the Rosseau Culture and Arts Project and fellow village residents, embark upon the launch of Destination Rosseau 2014, I was lucky enough to meet this wonderful woman Catherine Mondragon. Originally Catherine was going to assist me with grant writing, but I quickly realized that it was a waste of her talents. Catherine was a filmmaker and as I discovered, a film lecturer. And Bbesides film, Catherine has been a student of urban studies, a wonderful asset for my overall vision in this tiny hamlet of Rosseau as an arts destination. So I assigned her the position of coordinator of MIFF.

The great thing about Catherine is that she is from a generation a few below my own and so her contacts and view of the film world are different from my own. As a result, our programme for the first MIFF is forming into a “sweet celebration of the silver screen”.  Although at this point we are not ready to announce the final lineup, I can tell you that everything is going as planned.

The first Muskoka Independent Film Festival will take place from August 28 through 30th in three venues here in the Village of Rosseau. The Village of Rosseau is a quaint hub at the top of Lake Rosseau, part of the famous Muskoka Lakes system.  From Rosseau one has a choice of direct access to Huntsville, Bracebridge, Port Carling and Parry Sound. If there’s one word I hear over and over that describes the Village is “quaint”.  It boasts fine restaurants , a gourmet general store, LCBO, coffee shops, nursing station, churches, gift stores, art galleries and a few B&Bs. Just south of us one finds the JW Marriott Resort “The Rosseau” and Clevelands House with more restaurants and other facilities.  To the east there’s the famous Windermere House and to the west, the newly reopened Grand Tappattoo resort.

Our village is known as the place where it is not uncommon to find movie and sports stars, famous musicians or captains of industry casually having dinner, strolling through our Friday Farmer’s Market or haggling over the price at our Sunday antique market. All of this is located within a two block radius. Our venues, the new Rosseau Playhouse in the Agricultural Hall, The Memorial Hall and Frost Hall, part of the Anglican church, are within a two to three minute stroll of each other, as are the coffee shops and restaurants, the perfect location for pre and post viewing discussions.

Although we are not tapping into the local celebrities we have confirmed a few who are coming on board to kickstart MIFF. As informal discussions are very much part of our festival format, who better to lead them than my friend Dini Petty, who for years interviewed in depth, artists, “A” list movie stars and even over zealous cottage TV hosts like myself.  Catherine has and continues to bring on board a great variety of filmmakers and there’s more to come. We are accepting submissions up to the end of June. For details visit  or email Catherine Mondragon at .

Day and festival passes are available now online at or after May 16th at the Destination Rosseau Box Office in the TWG Gallery in Rosseau. As our venues are “intimate,  passes are limited…and there will be parties.

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Bunny Returns to the Muskoka Stage! Not the Easter One, The Witty One.

ImageIt’s been eight years since Bunny has been seen up on the stage here in Muskoka. Last year she did make it to the Muskoka Lakes Association’s 2013 yearbook in an exclusive interview. And soon she’ll be seen up on the silver screen where she’ll be immortalized forever in “The Grass Widow of Muskoka”.

Since she first came to the public’s attention back in 2001 to celebrate the 100 years of the Gravenhurst Opera House, Bunny has been presented by a variety of ladies throughout the province. Some have tried to steal her but failed to capture her inner soul ending up with a caricature that lacked elegance and spirit. People have compared her to the likes of Brooke Astor  and even to the recently deceased Bunny Mellon. Yet no one comes close to her wit, her insight and her inner beauty. 

This summer actress Patricia Vanstone, who some may recall from “Road to Avonlea”, was recently on stage touring opposite Norm Foster in his play “On A First Name Basis”, and who directed the original production of “Quiet! I’m Talking”,  plays an updated and revised version of Bunny Benvington-Smythe as part of “Destination Rosseau 2014” theatrical presentations. For a limited run, July 29 to August 9, Trish shall take  audiences on a journey of Bunny’s life, much of which was spent at her Muskoka retreat, Finnigan’s Point.  WIth tales of the the rich and famous, comments on the world today and shared secrets of a personal life that most can only dream of, Bunny welcomes audience members to the launch of her book “Quiet! I’m Talking”. 

Known for her wit and humour, some of this great lady’s observations of the world are best demonstrated in her many notable quotes…

“The information highway stops at the city limits. Up here at the lake all one needs to know is what’s for dinner and is there enough booze.”

“With wealth comes great responsibility. The problem with the nouveau riche is they think blue chip stocks come with a jalapeno dip!!  

This year, for  matinee performances,  Bunny invites the public to afternoon High Tea following the show at the TWG Gallery. This is a perfect excuse to get the gang together, put on your fancy hat, observe fine art and enjoy tea and fine pastries. RSVP in advance for show and high tea,  of course. 

“Quiet! I’m Talking” at the New Rosseau Playhouse in the Agricultural Hall, Village of Rosseau, Hwy 632 & Ash St.

Tuesday, July 29 to Friday, August 1 and Tuesday, August 5th to Saturday, August 9th  8:00PM $30.00

Matinee Performances Wednesday, July 30 & August 6th $30.00  with High Tea $35.00


or through the Box Office in the TWG GALLERY, 8 Hwy 632, Rosseau, ON P0C 1J0  705-224-3542

Groups over 20 call the box office.





“The Audit”, my new comedy premiering this summer, NOT the deed!


Getting audited is no fun. Believe me, I’ve been through it. However, it did inspire me to write my new comedy, appropriately called “The Audit”. I started writing it in 2010 in response to my own experience. In fact, my original intention was revenge. I was going to expose Revenue Canada for the dirty rotten bastards they are…But the truth is everyone was really, really sweet. So helpful and quick to give advice. However, in the end it didn’t stop them from them claiming I owed money. I appealed and threw myself at the mercy of the court. Okay, there was not court. More like the mercy of the Canada Post. Correspondence was always by phone or written snail mail. Something to do with privacy issues…(I guess Heartbleed proved them correct.) 

But I digress….Oh yes, my play. So finally I finished the play and in the end the characters took me on a journey in a whole different direction. Yes, the audit procedure is still there, but only  as a vehicle.  The true story is about how a divorced dentist quit his thriving practice to become a stand-up comic. I’ve always found comedians a strange bunch. No fourth wall to hide behind. You believe what they say is actually their own words, thoughts and experience, not some character they are playing. They have terrible sex, the kids hate them and the ex-wife is a bitch. 

I study comics. I watch their body movements. I can always tell when they are talking about a subject that is not true. Those who make me laugh, really laugh are the ones telling the truth…or at least it’s based on the truth.  Most often the darker the humour the closer to the truth they speak. 

Creating the main character Ray Halliday in “The Audit” wasn’t easy. When you first see him his jokes are topical and usual, but as we the audience learn more about his dark side, so too does his humour reflect it.  He begins to ridicule his own problems. If someone else did the same jokes it would be considered bad taste. It’s the old rule that you have to be one to ridicule one, otherwise you are  racist, sexist, homophobic etc. 

The most difficult thing about writing “The Audit”, or any work that involves humour as a topic, is trying to stay funny.  I think of movies where actors play comedians. Most of the time it doesn’t work. I find even now, when watching old Seinfeld episodes, the stand up club bits are often lame. The laughter is canned and humour isn’t spontaneous. 


So in the end I decided to approach the whole subject as a playwright, not someone writing for a standup comic. Of course, I have inserted certain devices that I know will get laughs.  The most prominent is Zeus the wise cracking dog. Yes, we have seen it done before but I wrote this dog from the point of view of my own, Iago.This summer’s production comes out of a workshop I did in Espanola this past March under the direction of an old friend Sharon Sproule. The actors, Jason Marrow, Michael Boivin and Theresa Laurenti although they all have other careers (one even works for Revenue Canada) did such a splendid job I asked them to come and perform this summer as part of Destination Rosseau. The show runs July 8 to 19, Tuesday thru Saturday at 8:00 PM with a Wed Matinee at 2:00 PM. Tickets are available online at , at our box office in the TWG Gallery or by phone after May 1 at 705-224-3542.   

Me during the workshop….



A Quaint Village Comes Alive…Exciting “Destination Rosseau 2014”

It’s been a long time in the making. Since moving from a lakeside cottage to an old farmhouse in the middle of this Front poster LOW RESquaint village, I have had this vision. I could see the Village of Rosseau was ideal for becoming an arts destination. It’s located where “Parry Sound meets Muskoka”.  This picturesque hamlet is a true hub.  Go west you find Parry Sound. East, Bracebridge. North, Huntsville. And south, Port Carling.  It’s two and a half hours north of downtown Toronto, and two hours south of Sudbury.  Within the village there are two fantastic B&B’s and  Crossroads, a very popular casual fine-dining restaurant. Within a twenty minute scenic drive there’s a variety of accommodations. Fifteen minutes south there’s The JW Marriott and Clevelands House. Take a slight detour between here and Bracebridge you’ll find Windermere House. This year we welcome the reopening of The Grand Tappatto Resort. All of these are perfect choices for both overnight stays and offer memorable dining experiences.

So the stage is set and now the Rosseau Culture and Arts Project (RCAP) is ready to deliver with Destination Rosseau 2014, an exciting festival of art, live theatre, music, film and more.

To begin, we are bringing back the award-winning  Muskoka Theatre Project’s with two great productions, here in the very village where it began twelve years ago.   The first is the premiere of a new comedy “The Audit”,  July 8 – 19,  that tells the story of  Ray, a divorced dentist who sells his practice to become a standup comic, only to have Revenue Canada audit him resulting with life altering consequences. Throw in his wise cracking dog Zeus, and it becomes a light comedy about a dark matter.   Then from July 29 – Aug 9, MTP is excited to bring back a new production of our original, award-winning “Quiet! I’m Talking”,  featuring Muskoka’s beloved Bunny Bevington-Smythe, who was featured in the 2013 Muskoka Lakes Associations yearbook. With updated material, played by Patricia Vanstone (Road to Avonlea) , Bunny is hilarious, poignant, witty and a bit naughty all rolled up in one. Soon to be a feature film “The Grass Widow of Muskoka”, don’t miss cocktails with Bunny.

Following our successful science workshops from last summer with Professor Whatz It, this year Destination Rosseau is presenting a whole week-long Science Camp for kids 8-14 from July 14 – 18. Full of hands-on experiments and demonstrations, participants explore the world of astronomy, geology, mechanics, chemistry, archaeology  and tons more.  And for those right-brained kids we are holding two Theatre Arts Camps for ages 9-14. Stage 1 “Be Scene” explores movement through the art of Neutral Mask. This is for kids of all levels, both those extroverts who are always up on stage performing  and those who might need a bit of confidence building. Stage 2 “Be Heard”, explores the voice as your instrument and then using it with movement.  Our instructors are all  professionals with years of experience.

Also for the kid in us all we are throwing a party on Saturday, July 26 called “Kinderfest”. It’s a whole day of workshops, performances, music, human gyroscopes, even 30 foot inflated animals that you can walk right inside. And then there’s the real animals like reptiles and snakes!

On Saturday, Aug 2 during the day it’s “Paint the Town Rosseau – 2″ . Artists are invited to come and capture a day in the life of our village. Then at night, in the playhouse it’s “Comedy Night in Rosseau”.  Direct from the “Just For Laughs Festival” , Derek Seguin headlines with fellow comedians DeAnne Smith and Matt Wright.

In the TWG Gallery, throughout the entire summer Destination Rosseau features “Brave Art”, three show of new art by Grace Short, Carolyn Megill, Stefan Galvanek  and Barb TenEycke .

On Aug 15 – 17 , Destination Rosseau sponsors “Voices in the Village”, three concerts; opera, Broadway and an afternoon of Jazz.

Finally, from August 28 through 30th ,  or our final event of Destination Rosseau 2014 it’s “The Muskoka Independent Film Festival”.  Join us and celebrity host, Canada’s own Dini Petty, for everything films, complete with galas, live interviews and lots of discussions.

We have something happening all summer long here in Rosseau. So buy a ticket, book a room and make you dinner reservations.  And don’t put it off too long.  Our venues are intimate and capacity is limited.  For more information or to purchase tickets visit


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