The show continues at the Coal Mine Theater despite the fire


East Toronto’s beloved theater, the Coal Mine, was badly damaged by a fire earlier this week.

Located at 1454 Danforth Avenue, the Coal Mine is an intimate performance venue known for its programming of cutting-edge, high-stakes works. Owned by co-artistic directors Diana Bentley and Ted Dykstra, the space has hosted dozens of Toronto theater artists. The fire broke out early Friday morning.

“The timing is terrible,” Bentley said in an interview. The company recently announced its eighth season, which premieres Sept. 25 with Jani Lauzon’s “Prophecy Fog.”

Bentley said the fire was ruled an accident caused by a shorted fuse. No one was injured, but the entrance hall and the front facade of the building were badly damaged.

Bentley and Dykstra remain as positive as possible. The company is no stranger to sudden theater issues: A show from the very first season of Coal Mine was moved due to mold shortly before its premiere and an alternative pop-up space was found at the era.

“The show must go on,” Bentley said. “The most important thing for us is that people continue to buy tickets. It is our life force. Please continue to purchase tickets. It is so appreciated.

Bentley pointed to the irony of the situation: Coal Mine’s most recent play, “Detroit,” ended in a breathtaking fire, even though the company could never have imagined how closely life would mimic the art.

Bentley and Dykstra are considering options for “Prophecy Fog,” which will depend on decisions made by the theater’s insurance company in the coming weeks.

“But sometimes magic can come out of destruction,” Bentley said. “Extraordinary things can come out of times like this.”

A CanadaHelps web page was created for the company and garnered considerable support from the Toronto theater community.

Ticket holders and subscribers will be contacted as soon as possible if there are any changes to Coal Mine’s scheduled performances.

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