Southam Club embraces Ottawa’s vibrancy

Caroline
Caroline Phillips
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Published on February 10, 2017

From left, Ottawa criminal defence lawyer Ian Carter with his wife, Dr. Chrissie Yao, with Duff Conacher, director of GoodOrg.ca Consulting, and Yasmin Shaker, deputy director at the Trade Law Bureau, seen backstage at the National Arts Centre on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, for a special night of dining and theatre for members and guests of the Southam Club. 

Published on February 10, 2017

From left, Jason Dubois, festival manager for Canada Scene, with Clayton Baraniuk, producing coordinator for NAC English theatre, and Chris Dearlove, general manager of Canada Scene, at a backstage dinner for members and guests of the Southam Club, held at the National Arts Centre on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, prior to that evening's production of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams.

Published on February 10, 2017

 Liberal MP Seamus O'Regan and Canadian director Jillian Keiley, artistic director of English theatre at the National Arts Centre, shared a discussion about their home province of Newfoundland and Labrador during a backstage dinner for members of the NAC's Southam Club, held prior to that evening's production of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams.

Published on February 10, 2017

From left, Suneeta Millington, deputy director at Global Affairs Canada, with Newfoundland native Patricia Beh at the National Arts Centre on Tuesday, February 7, 2017, for a backstage dinner held for members and guests of the Southam Club, held prior to that evening's theatrical production of The Colony of Unrequited Dreams.

Published on February 10, 2017

Frédérique Tsai-Klassen, director of communications for Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and the co-owner of Das Lokal Ottawa Kitchen and Bar, with her husband, Vincent Klassen, senior director of international relations for Natural Resources Canada, at an evening of dining and threatre at the National Arts Centre, held Tuesday, February 7, 2017, for members and guests of the NAC's Southam Club. 

Published on February 10, 2017

From left, Southam Club chair Diane Obam Dallaire with Canadian director Jillian Keiley, artistic director of English theatre at the National Arts Centre, and Newfoundland MP Seamus O'Regan (St. John's South-Mount Pearl), at a backstage dinner held Tuesday, February 7, 2017 for members and guests of the Southam Club. (Caroline Phillips / Ottawa Business Journal)

It wasn’t a typical night out to the theatre for some 50 or so young professionals who attended the National Arts Centre on Tuesday to see The Colony of Unrequited Dreams.

Rather, members and guests of the NAC’s Southam Club were first served a traditional but fancier version of a Newfoundland “Jiggs” dinner held backstage. As well, they got to meet the play’s director, Jillian Keiley, who’s also the artistic director of English theatre at the NAC.

Ms. Keiley had an interesting discussion about Newfoundland with Liberal MP Seamus O’Regan (St. John’s South-Mount Pearl), whom she’s known since they were kids growing up in their home province, affectionately known as The Rock.

They provided attendees with some context for the play, which is about Newfoundland’s entry into Confederation in 1949.

“When Newfoundland joined Canada my father wore a black armband to school,” Mr. O’Regan told the room. “He would have been six years old. Our family was not happy, mainly because the taxes were going up.”

They also talked about Newfoundland and Labrador’s cultural evolution, from being the butt of “Newfie” jokes to being able to shine on the national stage.

“We all sort of went through that period where we were embarrassed about it, and then we got fierce, really fierce,” said Ms. Keiley, the 2014 winner of the prestigious Siminovitch Prize in Theatre.

Southam Club was formed nearly six years ago to welcome and build support with a younger generation of people for the NAC. It offers a series of unique events and experiences, from going backstage after a show to meet its performing artists, to participating in a cooking class in the NAC kitchen, to listening to NAC Orchestra music director Alexander Shelley opine on the future of classical music. The group currently has about 100 members.

Southam Club chair Diane Obam Dallaire says members get a chance to get together after work to enjoy a relaxing glass of wine and meet new people while enjoying a mutual interest in the performing arts. It’s also about embracing the vibrancy of the city, she added.

Don’t worry if you can’t tell your Schumann from your Schubert – Southam Club is not meant to be pretentious or condescending.

“You’re here because you enjoy art but not to have intellectual discussions about it,” said Obam Dallaire, a public servant.

The annual fee to join the Southam Club is $150. That includes a $50 donation to the NAC Foundation. For more information, check out southamclub.ca.

Organizations: Southam Club, NAC, English theatre NAC Orchestra NAC Foundation

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Ottawa, Canada

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