Stage Door News

Millbrook: 4th Line Theatre opens its 2023 season with The Tilco Strike

Monday, May 8, 2023

4th Line Theatre is excited to open its 2023 Summer Season with the highly-anticipated world premiere of D’Arcy Jenish’s The Tilco Strike. The Tilco Strike recounts the year-long fight between 35 poorly paid women, and their bosses at Tilco Plastics in Peterborough, Ontario. The strike began in December 1965 over a $25 bonus and escalated into an epic battle between organized labour and strike-breaking employers.

Tilco Plastics was a small injection molding company, located at the corner of Park Street and Parkhill Road in the north end of Peterborough. The company was known primarily for its combs and other hair care products such as women’s barrettes. Tilco Plastics also produced custom products, such as the plastic cases for alarm clocks manufactured at Westclox in Peterborough.

“I am excited we finally get to share The Tilco Strike with our audiences,” says 4th Line Theatre’s Managing Artistic Director Kim Blackwell. “This play is pure 4th Line - taking audiences inside a little known piece of regional history.”

Unionization became popular in the 1960s, encouraging workers’ rights, freedoms, and protection. The Tilco Plastics plant was purchased from an American company in 1962 and found its grounding through “unskilled” female labour. At the time of the strike, more than half of the workforce was female. The Tilco women were inspired to lean on a Union for support after seeing other unionized environments receive increased wages and job security. In 1965, the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA) approached the Tilco women to propose the formation of a union.

Well known Canadian theatre artist Cynthia Ashperger is back for her second consecutive year as director at 4th Line Theatre and will direct the production, which has been in development for over five years. The Tilco Strike will feature several actors making their 4th Line debuts including: Austin Anonsen, Katherine Cappellacci, Sierra Gibb-Khan, Jason Gray, Nathan Simpson and Ellyse Wolter. Rebecca Birrell and Laurin Isiekwena will make their main stage debuts after participating in the theatre’s Young Company over the past two seasons.

Returning to the 4th Line stage in The Tilco Strike are Matt Gilbert, Justin Hiscox, Mark Hiscox, M. John Kennedy, Sarah McNeilly, Kelsey Powell and Hilary Wear.

Community volunteer actors include Cailleach Beaton, Skye Beaton, Gillian Coons, Michael Field, Darius Maliha-Evans, Carmel Warman and Lindsay Wilson.

The creative team includes Fight Director Edward Belanger, Costume Designer Korin Cormier, Musical Director and Composer Justin Hiscox, Set, Props and Sound Designer Esther Vincent and Assistant Director Marla Brennan.

The stage management team includes Rachel LaChanse and Kelsey Powell.

The Tilco Strike

Written by D’Arcy Jenish

Directed by Cynthia Ashperger

Musical Direction and Original Compositions by Justin Hiscox

Costume Design by Korin Cormier

Set Design by Esther Vincent

Fight Direction by Edward Belanger

June 29 – July 22

Previews: June 27, 28

Season Opening Night: Thursday, June 29

Tuesday to Saturday at 6 pm

The production of The Tilco Strike is sponsored by The Gainey Foundation and The Pyle Group Wealth Management – CIBC Wood Gundy.

Tickets, gift certificates and picnics for 4th Line Theatre productions can be purchased by phone at 705-932-4445 or toll-free at 800-814-0055, online at, or at 4th Line Theatre’s Box Office at 9 Tupper Street, Millbrook. Box office hours are 9 AM – 5 PM, Mondays through Fridays.

Photo: Crow Hill - The Telephone Play. © 2018 Wayne Eardley.