The ECHO Players mural will depict just a hint of the breadth of the productions that they do, says artist David Goatley.
Goatley, a portrait artist, was brought on by ECHO Players to paint a 16-by-56 foot mural on the side of the Village Theatre.
Goatley said what attracted him to the project was the aspect of community theatre.
“I like community theatre because it’s so much part of the fabric of a community. Everybody’s involved and everybody knows the people involved so it’s a social thing as well as an arts thing,” Goatley said.
The subject matter was appealing, Goatley said, because he thought it would be nice to feature all local people.
These are all people that have been in past productions; they’ll all be recognizable portraits. So they’ll all be able to say, ‘Oh, that’s me,’” Goatley said. “I think people will have fun picking out their friends in it.”
The idea of the mural was to show a mix of everything ECHO Players has done over the years.
“From drama to comedy to tragedy to farce, musicals and a great sort of colourful montage in the centre and then to show the wings on the side — what happens backstage,” said Goatley, who is from Shawnigan Lake. “There would be different sized figures so that your eye would flow through it. It wouldn’t just be static.”
Goatley said it took a bit of time to lay out the mural.
“I had a rough idea of what I might do, and I was trying to explain it to people and they weren’t really understanding it all that well, so I drew something out of my head to convey the concept,” he said. “They liked the concept so much that I then had to find real people to match what I’d made up out of my head.”
From there, Goatley said he sat and looked at hundreds and hundreds of images from ECHO Players’ archives until he started to find pictures that fit what he had made up in his mind.
However, his two central figures were missing. Goatley said he worked with local photographer Don Emerson to photograph Dox Quixote and Sancho Panzo from Man of La Mancha which ECHO Players had produced before.
“Then I had my central motif.”
Goatley said he wanted the mural to be entertaining to look at.
“That means using very exaggerated expressions and poses because very often when you look at the still photograph of a play, what’s funny about the play is the dialogue. If you take away the dialogue, it’s just people standing there,” he said.
“What you see here is a five-foot version of something that’s going to be 56-feet long,” Goatley said of the smaller-scale rendering. “And if you want to see what that looks like, come out to French Creek Elementary School and be as intimidated by it as I was. It’s enormous.”
For the next two months, Goatley said people can stop by the gym at the former French Creek Elementary in Coombs to see him in action.
“Once the paint starts going on it will be something to look at,” Goatley said, adding that will be sometime around the third week of September.
Goatley will be painting the mural on a false wall of plywood. It will then be unveiled on July 1, 2017 in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday.
At a Town of Qualicum Beach council meeting on Sept. 12, ECHO Players past-president Mike Andrews presented the mural to council, and Andrews talked a bit about the ECHO Players Arts Fund to help raise money for the mural.
“In order to put this mural up, the first thing we have to do is completely renovate the roof. That expense is considerable,” Andrews said, adding that they’re looking to raise $50,000 — $20,000 of which was raised during a previous fundraiser.
To find out more about the fund, visit www.echoplayers.ca.