Centre Stage

The appeal of taking part in community theatre.




My name is Doris Wagner and I was born in Innsbruck, Austria. I grew up with parents who loved the music of our country. The radio was always on—my mother, who herself was a performer in traditional shows, taught me how to yodel and sing many traditional songs. When I was 14, I had the opportunity to be part of a troupe that performed traditional Tyrolean folk dances and music every evening for tourists from all over the world. It felt like a natural progression to perform on a larger stage and, at 14, I thought I had made it. The number of people I met and the places I went—France, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, Egypt, and Canada to name a few. Through this connection, I came to Vancouver for EXPO86, the 1986 World’s Fair located at False Creek, where I was hired to dance at the Munich Festhaus. This is where I met my husband and the rest, as they say, is history.

In 2002, we arrived in Campbell River—it was a bit of a shock, and I did not know anyone. I came across an ad in the local newspaper looking for local actors for a play. “Well, why not?” I asked myself. My first foray into the performing arts began in 2005 with Rivercity Players in a comedy called Self Help. I was cast in a lead role (although how that happened is still a mystery to me). I was impressed with the level of professionalism, the process of getting the play on stage, set building, wardrobe, props etc.—and all volunteer-driven!

Over the past 20 years, I’ve been involved in several plays. My favourite was in 2016: a co-production with Shoreline Musical Theater Society called Nunsense; playing Mother Superior was an absolute highlight. I was also in The Diary of Anne Frank, Here on the Flight Path (our entry in the North Zone Theatre Festival where I received the Best Supporting Actress award), You Can’t Take It With You! and several others. I have also been happy to be part of Shoreline MT since 2006: Sweet Charity, Come Fly with Us, The Sound of Music (Baroness Elsa), Hello Dolly! (Irene Molloy), Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins), and, most recently, Crazy Marie (The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella).

SC Vol8 Who Gallery

I never know anything about the story when auditioning. I develop my character through rehearsals with my counterparts, the director’s vision, and really learning the whole script. It is important to know your fellow actors’ motivation—getting to know why they are saying or doing what they are saying and doing. Any role requiring me to have an accent other than my own is challenging, but, fortunately, that has been minimal. Getting into character usually involves a read-through with the cast, and then I try to come up with words to describe how my character would react or feel when saying words in a scene. The director has their vision and it is up to the actor to portray this and combine it with their actions or reactions. As community theatre volunteers, we do not have months and months available to prepare—our commitment takes place over evenings and weekends for a period of maybe two months.

Being part of a volunteer-run group of like-minded community members is satisfying. Raising the funds to put on a show is hard work—most don’t know the cost involved. However, people are extremely generous with their time and support. You make new friends and reconnect with old ones. I also love to see it all come together—from the first shaky rehearsals to the “Week at the Tidemark” with lights and sound added, and then the actual performances.

I love theatre. It gives me the ability to be someone completely different and entertain others so they can forget everything else and enjoy some make-believe!