Build­ing a mar­riage and a busi­ness to­gether

Coal Mine Theatre’s Diana Bent­ley and Ted Dyk­stra on a love story all their own

North York Post - - Currents -

Diana Bent­ley and Ted Dyk­stra are the duo be­hind the Coal Mine Theatre. This month, Bent­ley will be pro­duc­ing The Won­der Pageant, an im­prov hol­i­day show from Dec. 2 to 23, while Dyk­stra is di­rect­ing

The Father, a play about the re­al­i­ties of liv­ing with Alzheimer’s. The pair met at the theatre, of course. Dyk­stra was di­rect­ing a show that had just opened, and Bent­ley was act­ing in a show that was run­ning next door. Here, Bent­ley dishes on their love story’s be­gin­nings.

The first date

Our first date was at the AGO. We were both very ner­vous and pre­tended to be in­ter­ested in art. We walked to din­ner at Cze­hoski’s on Queen West af­ter. Some­where on the way from the gallery to din­ner Ted dropped one of his gloves. It was win­ter and rush hour and the streets were jam packed with peo­ple. Ted was up­set (I would learn later that Ted has a knack for los­ing things) be­cause he had bought them in New­found­land, and they were sheep­skin. I as­sured Ted that if we re­traced our steps we would find them. He thought I was in­sane and said that would never hap­pen. Sure enough, in the mid­dle of Chi­na­town I found the glove. At that mo­ment some­thing clicked and we both shared a Jerry Maguire “You com­plete me” mo­ment.

The courtship

When I met Ted I didn’t know he played pi­ano or had a show called 2

Pi­anos 4 Hands or any­thing like that. I just knew that he was a di­rec­tor in the theatre. So, need­less to say, the first time Ted got up to play pi­ano at a sa­lon, I was ab­so­lutely stunned. I’ll never for­get it as long as I live. He played “Great Balls of Fire” and “Ben­nie and the Jets,” and when he sat back down at the ta­ble, I couldn’t speak.

The pro­posal

We were in New York City for a few days. It was late fall, and we had just fin­ished up at MOMA, and we strolled into Cen­tral Park. Ted got down on one knee and pro­posed, and I ugly cried. No, re­ally ugly cried. I also let out this sound that was a com­bi­na­tion of a goose and a foghorn. I was so re­lieved, ex­cited, thrilled, ner­vous and in love. We got mar­ried at our theatre, the Coal Mine in Jan­uary of 2017. Our friends and Coal Mine fam­ily helped us con­vert the theatre into our dream wed­ding venue, and it was just that: a dream wed­ding. Get­ting mar­ried in the theatre that we had built to­gether felt like the per­fect ex­pres­sion of who we are.

The hon­ey­moon

The next morn­ing we took off to Madeira and rode around on a scooter for a week up in the hills.

The kids

I feel very blessed to be the step­mother to Rosie, 15 and Theo, 17. Step-par­ent­ing is si­mul­ta­ne­ously the hard­est and most re­ward­ing thing I have done in my life. Ev­ery day is a new chal­lenge to be a bet­ter ver­sion of my­self. We are also the proud par­ents of Henry who is just two months old. He ar­rived on Sept. 23 and is de­light­ing and en­ter­tain­ing the four of us end­lessly.

Bal­anc­ing work and mar­riage

Ted and I love col­lab­o­rat­ing and share the same pas­sion: theatre. When we met, I was pro­duc­ing site-spe­cific in­de­pen­dent theatre and Ted was — well he was Ted! When we launched the Coal Mine in the fall of 2014 with The

Motherf**ker with the Hat, we had no idea that the theatre would grow into what it has to­day. The Coal Mine chal­lenges us, but more so it brings us joy, laugh­ter, artistry and depth. Be­cause of it we are sur­rounded by the most open­hearted and beau­ti­ful ar­ray of peo­ple that we are now lucky enough to call our fam­ily. We both have many days where we just dwell on how in­cred­i­ble that is, and that keeps us grounded, con­nected and hum­ble.

Life af­ter re­tire­ment

Re­tire­ment? What’s that?! We try to stay in the mo­ment and al­low our­selves to be shown what’s next. We both be­lieve in “let­ting our lives live us” and not the other way around. It’s a tough prac­tice some­times, but we both are get­ting bet­ter at trust­ing it. Plus it means we’re con­tin­u­ally sur­prised by what’s in front of us, and that keeps life fun!

“Ted and I love col­lab­o­rat­ing and share the same pas­sion: theatre.”

Ted Dyk­stra and Diana Bent­ley on their wed­ding day at Coal Mine Theatre

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