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Process Theatre opens in Colborne

By JEFF GARD, Northumberland Today

JEFF GARD/Northumberland Today
Michael Gellman and Deborah Smith are looking forward to opening the doors of the new Process Theatre in downtown Colborne.

JEFF GARD/Northumberland Today Michael Gellman and Deborah Smith are looking forward to opening the doors of the new Process Theatre in downtown Colborne.


No matter where it takes them – London (England), New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or even now to the small village of Colborne, Ontario – there is one constant when it comes to theatre for Michael Gellman and Deborah Smith.

“It's our passion and it's our joy,” Gellman said. “We just like to keep doing the work and creating. We like to teach it, share it, pass it on. It's kind of a responsibility as we're getting older to pass it on.”

While the couple officially moved from Chicago to the Colborne area – in nearby Castleton – in May, they have owned the home for four years.

They bring a wealth of experience. Gellman has an extensive resume, including work with Second City as an actor and director dating back to 1973.

Smith earned a Masters degree in classical theatre from The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts in England along with Benedict Cumberbatch. She was the founder and first artistic director of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival in Prescott, Ontario which is now entering its 12th year. She joined Gellman in Chicago to live and work in theatre.

Call it semi-retirement perhaps (although they hope to never completely retire from theatre), Gellman and Smith are hoping to establish roots in this area. They are set to open the Process Theatre in downtown Colborne at 15 King St. East. While they searched for a storefront theatre location in nearby communities to Castleton, downtown Colborne proved to be the most appealing.

“The idea of doing something here is so nice,” Gellman said.

“We're going to keep it going as a creative hub,” noted Smith, adding that means everything from performances during their theatre season as well as classes, workshops and other performances.

Auditions for their Process Ensemble will be held Saturday, Aug. 22 for anyone age 14 and up. For more information, check out

“We want to see who's interested. We would like to see who in the area would like to do it and is available,” Gellman said. “We can match the plays we want to do with the talent available.”

They will announce their 2016 lineup during the grand opening of the Process Theatre on Oct. 23 from 7 to 10 p.m.

Plans are also in the works for a Christmas show, which they expect to become an annual tradition.

The theatre can seat about 100 but the plan is to offer a seating plan of 50 for most shows.

Gellman noted that Smith worked in several great storefront theatres in Chicago.

“The tradition for storefront space is 30 to 50 seats, small shows, intimate, just really good theatre – good stories dramatized well,” Gellman remarked. “We can do bigger productions and have more people in. We'll configure the theatre different for every play. We can have several different staging concepts. We would like to keep it more intimate. For us, it's just an exciting way to see theatre. It's a shared experience.”

Meanwhile, acting classes begin Sept. 9 with options for beginners and more experienced actors.

“We encourage anyone who has any desire or curiosity to be an actor or to learn about the craft of acting or to be around another group of actors because it's really fun,” Smith said. “Come and have fun and see what we're doing.”

“If you've been acting for awhile, we have a couple great classes and let's take wherever you're at and see where we can go and see how far you can get,” Gellman added. “Have you never acted before? We have a couple classes for that too.”

“It's the passion you need to bring to the table, that's all,” Smith said.

Other possibilities for the Process Theatre include hosting international retreats, one act plays and writing/storytelling festivals.