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Iain Moggach

“If the last few years have taught me anything, me writing these things down and putting them out into the universe is half of the battle. And whether it is me or a successor at the helm, it will happen.”

Khaleel Gandhi

Joe Szekeres

To Barrie, Ontario: you are one lucky city to have Iain Moggach promoting your theatrical artistic community.

The youthful-looking Theatre by the Bay’s (TBTB) Artistic Director is one to watch. What’s foremost for him is his commitment to ensure Barrie’s artistic endeavours, especially in the theatre, remain noteworthy. For example, (and according to his website), much of his work with Theatre by the Bay has been on education and training for emerging artists. Since 2020, he has been the lead instructor of the Emerging Director Project, created the Barrie Theatre Lab to support new play development, and he also launched the Simcoe County Theatre Festival to provide a platform for local emerging artists. I was fortunate to have attended the latter a few years ago.

Just recently, in 2023, Iain was formally signed to The Talent House, a leading agency in the entertainment industry for over 35 years.

This young artist is going places. I firmly believe that.

I’ve continued checking in on artists I profiled three years ago when our world changed. The link to my first conversation with Iain is at the bottom of this profile.

He and I once again conducted our conversation via email.

As a professional artist, he feels very satisfied that things have never been better. He has had the chance to work with incredible artists and directed shows of which he is incredibly proud: ‘The Ghost Watchers,’ ‘A Scandal for All Seasons’ and ‘Icemen.’ While the pandemic has made it harder to get their work out of Barrie, a goal in the plan, the company has been able to do so.

There was a production of ‘Mno Bimaadiziwin’ about Indigenous experiences in Orillia at the Orillia Opera House in 2021 (the first indoor theatre production for many of our audience members since the pandemic had started). I did get the chance to see it, and it was worth the trip to Orillia. In partnership with Theatre Collingwood, TBTB brought both of its 2022 full productions to Collingwood and presented Mary of Shanty Bay at the church that the real Mary O’Brien and her family built.

Iain can’t speak about his 2024 show yet; however, I am watching for it and will share the title when it becomes available. Iain is also ‘through the woods’ on a book he is adapting and will be able to announce within the next year if everything goes according to plan.

Like all of us, though, the last three years have taken its toll even on our hopeful, enterprising young people who have much to give back to the community. I am concerned for these young people as they are the ones who are going to lead us forward into the future. On one side of things, Iain has had a lot of sleepless nights and periods of overwhelming anxiety, despair, and frustration. On the other hand, there is incredible joy, relief, and success, especially in reading about his accomplishments.

Moggach recognizes that such considerable fluctuations in emotions as regularly as the last three years have taken their toll on him. He feels like a very different person than he was three years ago. While an eternal optimist, that optimism has been wrung quite dry.

He chooses to keep going.

That’s admirable, young man, but please never forget that you and your family come first. The Barrie community (and me) want you to enjoy life and the fruits of your labour with your family and community in that respective order.

Moggach hasn’t lost his quick wit during these last three years. He shared he had an acting teacher at George Brown who would use making theatre in Barrie as the punchline of a bad joke. He quoted verbatim what the instructor used to say in class: “You can be a great actor, or you can go and do work in Barrie.”

Where is this instructor’s professionalism? Ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Moggach has something else planned.

Instead, his goal is to swap that asinine perspective and have the broader theatre community be excited (and perhaps a bit jealous) about what is going on in Barrie and be amazed by the quality and quantity of work and calibre of artists coming out of the community. Iain also hopes that the artists who live in the community feel like they always have a place in TBTB. It is also hoped that TBTB can provide as many ladders as possible to ensure a place for them at each step of the local theatre community’s journey.

What are some areas of growth Moggach still sees for Theatre by The Bay?

He recognizes that the most urgent task is to capitalize better on community goodwill and turn it into dollars in its bank account. TBTB also needs to break into the OAC and CCA operating streams – which has never happened before in the company’s 20+ year history. On the artistic side, the theatre has identified gaps in the local community that need to be addressed to keep hiring local artists as high as it would like. Moggach suspects these two things could go hand in hand and lead to the Theatre by the Bay, which he sees clearly in his mind.

There is also the hope of bringing TBTB’s work out more broadly. For example, I was highly impressed with ‘Icemen’ in the fall of 2023 and thought how important it would be to bring that production to community centres or stages in smaller regional towns. Moggach mentioned Alliston, for example, and that would be great; however, since I live in the Durham Region, might he consider bringing productions down further south? The same holds true for two other productions I saw that were indeed memorable: ‘Mary of Shanty Bay’ and ‘Bobbie’, which came to my mind. Iain also spoke about possibly bringing these three shows across Canada in the future.

He’s just that kind of earnest artistic leader who would and could make this happen.

I’ve asked some artists I’ve profiled where they see themselves again in the next five years. Some have chosen not to gaze into that crystal ball as they see no benefit, while others have pondered the future.

Moggach was clear on his five-year plan for TBTB and wanted to share the results.

Actually, 2024 will mark the end of the plan that started in the fall of 2019. Despite the pandemic, TBTB has been able to achieve many of the goals that it had set out. TBTB is now twice the size that it was in 2019. It launched much-needed community development projects like the Simcoe County Theatre Festival and the local Indie Producer Co-op. The company dramatically increased the diversity of its storytellers and artists.

A few things couldn’t be achieved, but the company is fine with those being in the next plan. One day, TBTB should own its own space for workshops and classes, auditions, and rehearsals, for instance, but 2024 is probably not the right time for that.

He elaborated further:

“There are more pressing priorities than that right now. Looking back, I knew developing the first Five Year Plan would be useful, but I think it spoke things into being - as if by writing our goals down, we made them real.”

The growth of TBTB has been remarkable for Moggach. For him, an example that comes to his mind is the Indie Producer Co-op. This program has always been a gem in TBTB’s crown, but it has really come into its own in the last few years. In 2022, thanks to the donation of a local foundation, the Co-op expanded to include a local component to help develop the producers of the future in Simcoe County – a much-needed expansion and support for the ecosystem. And then, in 2023, it was expanded again to become a national program.

TBTB had participants from across the country who lived and worked in Barrie for several weeks. They met the community, saw the value and quality of the work first-hand, and are now using their skills to support their communities. It is an incredible achievement and a unique way for TBTB to support theatre across the country.

Once again, he clarified his thoughts:

“As I think about it, what the expansion of the Co-op exemplifies is how TBTB is growing. On one side, we are bringing our work ‘out’ and getting people from across the country to take notice, while on the other side, we are addressing issues in our local ecosystem to support its growth!”

Go to the theatre’s website: and check out more of what has been going on in Barrie. There’s exciting stuff.

And make sure you say hello to Iain (and even say that Joe sent you).

This polite, industrious and personable fellow will put you at ease very quickly as he shares his thoughts about the future of theatre in Barrie.

And it’s looking good as far as I’m concerned.

Link to Iain’s first profile:

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