david atkins

Nominated By and Written By: Callandra Dendias

My nomination for a TWISI People’s Choice Award in the category Community Theatre Director is David Atkins.  My work on KWMP’s production of Hairspray last fall was incredibly special. Initially I was unsure if participating in a ‘community theatre’ show was something I wanted to do.  With the encouragement of a dear friend, Lance Green (with whom I worked on Mamma Mia during the final portion of the Toronto run) and the show’s choreographer Janet Kubik (another wonderful friend from shows past), I decided to head out to Kitchener, sing for the creative team and see where it would lead.

I was cast as Tracy Turnblad and had absolutely no idea what to expect.  What I took away from working with David was nothing short of life changing.  His approach with the entire company far exceeded an ‘amateur theatre’ stereotype.  He was constantly striving to make sure our production evolved naturally, truthfully, and that the important message of the piece was not lost. As someone who has worked with incredible, professional directors in the past, what David provided me with, in terms of guidance, direction and leadership was absolutely on a professional level.  

His humour during rehearsals kept the stressful times lighthearted.  He has the ability to tell when an actor feels something is not working and is too nervous to speak up. David will keep working until everyone is happy with what’s happening on stage. He also took the time to make sure I arrived home safely after each of my 1.5 hour commutes.

David deserves recognition for his direction on this piece because of the personal growth he fostered from the cast. There is absolutely no question in my mind that because of David’s directorial approach, the actors felt safe to try new ideas. Coming in as a performer “with professional experience” I felt a great deal of pressure to prove myself.  Whether or not David was aware of my own insecurities I am not sure, but he brought me out of my shell.  In rehearsals past, I’d often be too timid to take a chance, or too self conscious to try something new.  Rehearsing for Hairspray was new for me because I felt very free to play with new ideas. I am incredibly grateful because I know it helped me grow and in the future I will be less intimidated to take chances.

When a show closes, there are usually tears and this time was no exception.  For me, I felt like I was saying goodbye to a family – a family I had not been looking for or expecting, but grew to love. The sense of family David fostered in the rehearsal hall, and even once we got to The Centre in the Square, was real. We all felt it and I know that is, in huge part, because of his direction.  Thank you, David.

The TWISI People’s Choice Awards are an opportunity to celebrate deserving members of the Canadian Theatre Community (artists of the performing arts in the broadest terms- theatre, comedy, music & dance), technicians and crew members, educators, and administrators in the professional and community theatre in Canada).  If you would like to nominate someone for a TWISI People’s Choice Award please write a blog or make a video to celebrate and introduce the person and of your choice and email it to 

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