Elizabeth Murphy raced to Point Pleasant Park just after midnight 1,678 days ago to see her beloved Shakespeare by the Sea headquarters engulfed in flames.
“The firemen were up on the roof with an axe about to hack through the roof. I went running up. One of the firemen got me and said, ‘I’m sorry ma’am. The building belongs to us just now. You’ll have to wait,'” the managing director of the Nova Scotia theatre company said Friday.
And now, 4½ years later, the repair work is complete. On Jan. 2, the new roof and siding were finally installed on the Halifax headquarters.
Murphy said a jogger spotted someone throwing lit matches into the garbage container behind the building shortly before the 2014 fire.
“It was just a natural barbecue, because there were holes in the side of it,” she said. “We thought we were going to be in danger of not doing the season.”
But they soldiered on through the 2014 season, slowly working through insurance claims and ensuring the necessary repairs were progressing. The province and the Halifax Regional Municipality put in some money to get it done.
The theatre company opened the renovated indoor theatre with a temporary roof last year. Most shows play outside in the park’s Cambridge Battery, but they use the building as office space and for performances during poor weather.
“They insulated the ceiling, took out the old struts, put new siding around the whole building. And here we are,” Murphy said.
Next week, they’ll launch a new program in the space called the Studio at Shakespeare by the Sea. It will bring young people into Shakespeare’s world.
“They’re classes in dance, and improvisation and Shakespeare,” Murphy said. “We’re very excited about it. It’s just wonderful and it’s going to be a really big outreach to the community. We’re going to push for the diversity that’s required and needed in our society.”
They won’t rest on their laurels. Murphy said they hope to one day launch a capital campaign to raise money for a purpose-built facility for Shakespeare by the Sea.