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   SPRING 2007



                                                         for all stages



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                                               STORY ON PAGE 8

                  What’s New at Theatre Alberta           3.
                             Tales from the Stacks        3.
                Calling the Next Sharon Pollock           5.
                                   Meet the Board         5.
                       Calgary’s PCC Conference           7.
              Medicine Hat Community Theatre              8.
                     RADA’s Performance Breath            11.

                       Wendy Lill on Dramatizing          12.
                            in a Time of Change

                                        Dry Martini       14.
                     News from Alberta’s Drama            15.

                                           The Buzz       15.
                                                                                                                             Theatre Alberta is the
                                                                                                            Provincial Arts Service Organization (PASO) for theatre
                                                                                                            in Alberta, dedicated to the growth and development
                                                                                                        of the Alberta theatre community and all its constituencies.
                                                                                                           Theatre Alberta News is a publication of Theatre Alberta
                                                                                                         issued four times a year. Contribution of notices, news and
                                                                                                          articles about theatre are welcome, as well as high quality

                                                                                                        (350 dpi or higher) photographs. Theatre Alberta News also
                                                                                                        accepts signed letters to the editor but reserves the right to
                                                                                                         refuse any material it considers inappropriate. The opinions
                                                                                                           and views expressed are those of the writers and do not
                                                                                                                   necessarily reflect those of Theatre Alberta.

                                                                                                                       Office and library hours

     I love it when things change.
                                                                                                                 Monday to Saturday, 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
                                                                                                                Office and Library closed April 6–9 (Easter),
     Fresh beginnings, new opportunities, a blank slate and endless possibilities that inspire.                      and May 19–21 (Victoria Day).
     Out with the old and in with the new. Embrace the unknown!                                               Submission deadlines and publication dates
                                                                                                                        April 27 for June 1, 2007
     At the same time I hate it when things change. Embrace the unknown?? Yuck. Better the                            July 20 for August 24, 2007
                                                                                                                  October 19 for November 23, 2007
     devil I know than the devil I don’t. Moving out of my comfort zone, extra demands and                         January 25 for February 29, 2008
     challenges that are added to my already busy schedule. Sometimes it means letting go of                                   Advertising rates
                                                                                                                  Full Page (9.5” high x 7” wide) $200.00
     things that have been good and not knowing exactly what will take their place. But as we all               Half Page (4.625” high x 7” wide) $120.00
     know, nothing stays the same—including the provincial government.                                          Quarter Page (2.25” high x 7” wide) $80.00
                                                                                                                       Please supply high-resolution files
     Alberta now has a new Premier, Ed Stelmach. The word “culture” has returned as the title of            (at least 350 dpi at actual size) in greyscale or black
                                                                                                            and white. Prices include GST. Ads are booked on a
     one of the 18 Ministries formed by Premier Stelmach—Alberta Tourism, Parks, Recreation               first-come, first-serve basis and space is limited. Book ad
                                                                                                         space at least one month prior to the submission deadline.
     and Culture—and this newly formed ministry has a new Minister, Hector Goudreau. While
     it’s definitely encouraging to see the word “culture” reinstated in a Ministry portfolio title,                Theatre Alberta Board of Directors
                                                                                                        If you have questions or concerns regarding Theatre Alberta,
     and while Minister Goudreau has already let the arts community know that we should                 you are welcome to contact Theatre Alberta Board members.
     expect an increase to the Alberta Foundation for the Arts budget, we shouldn’t expect a                                         Officers
     doubling of it. Is this to be our fresh beginning, our endless possibility?                               Tanya Ryga ~ Red Deer
                                                                                                                               VICE PRESIDENT
                                                                                                             Karen Towsley ~ Calgary
     It is truly important that we help Premier Stelmach and Minister Goudreau further develop                                    TREASURER
                                                                                                            Wendy Punter ~ Cochrane
     their knowledge of the provincial arts scene. Their increased understanding of the full spectrum
                                                                                                                                  S E C R E TA R Y
     of artistic work going on in this province is essential to keeping the arts healthy and vibrant.        David Owen ~ Edmonton

     I hope every arts group in Alberta, rural and urban, grass roots to professional, performing,                                Directors
                                                                                                            Jane Heather ~ Edmonton
     literary, and visual arts, is inundating both of these gentlemen with letters as well as               Andrea Martinuk ~ Edmonton
                                                                                                           Harold Truckle ~ Red Deer
     invitations to attend their events. Because only through getting to know the arts community,          Steve McHugh ~ Wetaskiwin
     by participating in it as artists or audience, do you begin to understand, appreciate, and value      Gail Hanrahan ~ Lethbridge
                                                                                                             Mary-Ellen Perley ~ Edmonton
     it. Write to them about the kind of artistic work you are involved in and how it affects your         Russell Thomas ~ Fort McMurray
     world and the world around you in terms of quality of life and fiscal impact.                               Johanne Deleeuw ~ Calgary
                                                                                                                          EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
     The winds of change have also blown through Theatre Alberta. It’s official—Sam Varteniuk                   Marie Gynane-Willis
     is now the ‘former’ Theatre Alberta Programmer. We miss his outstanding programming                                O F F I C E A D M I N I S T R AT O R
                                                                                                               Janice Hoover
     work, dry sense of humour, great tech skills, and last but not least, his handyman abilities.                      P R O G R A M C O O R D I N AT O R
                                                                                                           Keri Ekberg
     One of Sam’s significant contributions was his work on our website—he took it forward
     light years. He is now working at the Citadel on the Student’s Club and we wish him well.                 Jill Connell
                                                                                                                              A D M I N I S T R AT O R
                                                                                                                 Julie Sinclair
     I am delighted to welcome Jill Connell as our new Programmer. She is a playwright with
     a strong and diverse theatre background, who recently completed a Masters degree at the                  Solveig Anderson
                                                                                                              Brenda Sutherland
     University of New Brunswick. Jill is the new editor of the newsletter and will soon be
                                                                                                                      F I N A N C I A L A D M I N I S T R AT O R
     launching our e-newsletter.                                                                                                Zenovia Adams
                                                                                                        Change of address information and undeliverable copies to:
     Finally, don’t forget to celebrate World Theatre Day on March 27th Started by UNESCO                                 Theatre Alberta Society
                                                                                                                         3rd Floor Percy Page Centre
     in 1962, World Theatre Day is an opportunity for theatre people to celebrate the power of                   11759 Groat Road, Edmonton AB T5M 3K6
     theatre on a local level while knowing that we are part of a bigger global celebration. Tell                Phone: (780) 422-8162 Fax: (780) 422-2663
                                                                                                         Toll Free: 1-888-422-8160
     your audience, tell your actors, tell the general public, post a sign, insert the UNESCO                  
     message (easily found on the internet) into your program.


2.       spring 2007
EMERGE 2007                                                                        DRAMAWORKS & ARTSTREK Registration begins soon!
Calgary: Monday, April 16 at                                                        Dramaworks is a summer theatre workshop program for adults that
One Yellow Rabbit’s Big Secret Theatre                                              takes place at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton; it has been running
Edmonton: Monday, April 23 at the                                                   in the province since 1959. This year the program runs during the
Citadel Theatre                                                                      first two weekends in July—each weekend includes both beginner
Emerge is Theatre Alberta’s annual general                                           and advanced workshops for performers, directors, designers, tech-
audition event for graduates of post-secondary                                       nicians, playwrights, and more! Check with your local community
acting programs across the province. Participa-                                       theatre or employer about subsidizing your trip to Dramaworks
tion is by invitation only.                                                           this summer.
                                                                                       Workshop Weekends: July 5-8 & 12-15
Professionals—Please mark your calendars.
If you have not received an official invitation,
contact Keri for information at                                                    Artstrek is Alberta’s residential summer theatre program for teens                                             that takes place at Red Deer College. Over the course of the week
                                                                                   students will explore acting, voice, movement, sound/music, design,
                                                                                    and directing. This year’s curriculum will focus on Lee MacDougall’s
        CALL FOR ARTSTREK SUPERS!                                                   stage adaptation of Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell—a
                                                                                     classic Canadian story about growing up on the prairies.
     Calling all Artstrek alumni with leader-                                        Exploration I (ages 13-15): July 8-14
      ship skills and enthusiasm, and who                                             Exploration II (ages 16-18): July 15-22
         just can’t let a good thing go!
                                                                                         These programs fill up quickly—register early to avoid disappoint-
     Artstrek Supervisors are selected from                                              ment! See our combined Dramaworks/Artstrek brochure
         applicants who have previously              for details (if you didn’t receive a brochure, contact Theatre Alberta and we’ll send one your way).
    attended Artstrek, have been away from
                                                     For more information call 1-888-422-8160 or visit
     the program for at least one year, and
    who are 19 to 25 years of age. To apply,         SAFE STAGES
      send a theatre/employment resume,              Safe Stages, Theatre Alberta’s new occupational health and safety resource
       cover letter, and headshot/photo to           for theatre companies and workers/volunteers, is at the printers! Copies of or                Safe Stages will be distributed throughout the province in the spring. Visit
                 Theatre Alberta            for information about the official launch of the
           3rd Floor Percy Page Centre               resource or to request a copy.

               11759 Groat Road
                                                     ANNOUNCING TA eNEWS, Theatre Alberta’s New Electronic Newsletter
            Edmonton AB T5M 3K6.
                                                     Theatre Alberta has decided to gather its courage and join the movement of proliferating enewslet-
       Application deadline is April 13th.           ters. With standing columns such as Shows Opening This Week, Auditions, Jobs, News, and Advocacy
       For more information contact us at            Updates, TA eNews will provide subscribers with timely, province-wide theatre news on a bi-weekly                 basis. But fear not, this new-fangled electronic newsletter has no designs on replacing its long-lived
              or 1-888-422-8160.                     print predecessor (which you are currently reading). TA eNews has come into being as an effort
                                                     toward building a more informed and cohesive theatre community across Alberta. Watch for our
                                                     première issue in an inbox near you, or visit to subscribe.

FEATURED PLAY                                        FEATURED REFERENCE RESOURCE                          DONATIONS
Half Life by John Mighton (2005)                     Dramatists Sourcebook                                Thank you to Celia Penman and the Windmill
Two nursing home residents, both in their 80s,       23rd Edition (2004)                                  Theatre Players for their generous donation of
meet and fall in love, rekindling what might have    More than 950 opportunities for playwrights,         the CD and script for the musical Nine.
been a wartime romance. Had they previously          translators, composers, lyricists, and libret-
                                                                                                          SUGGEST A PLAY TITLE IN APRIL
met somewhere else under different circum-           tists, including script-submission procedures
stances? Why is their love so troubling for their    for 380 professional theatres, 137 prizes, and       Theatre Alberta’s library will be asking our
children? Indeed, the light at dusk is sometimes     scores of publishers, fellowships, residen-          members to suggest new scripts for library
warmer and more enveloping than that of the          cies, developmental programs, agents, service        acquisition sometime in April. Keep an eye on
midday sun. Characters navigate between being        organizations, state arts agencies, and reference    your email for further details.
and appearance, between cowardice and disso-         publications. The Dramatists Sourcebook is
luteness. The play is a poetic and moving medita-    thoroughly indexed and contains an invaluable
tion on identity, aging, and the nature of memory.   calendar of submission deadlines. Includes the
What shines through when memory fades away?          “Simple Working Guide for Playwrights” by
Winner of the 2005 Governor General’s Literary       Tony Kushner.
Award in Drama.

                                                                                                                                    theatre alberta news      3.
              Publications Mail Agreement Number 40051164
              Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to:
              Theatre Alberta 11759 Groat Road, 3rd Floor, Edmonton AB T5M 3K6

spring 2007

calling the next Sharon Pollock...
S    haron Pollock began to write plays in
1971, while pregnant with her sixth child.
                                                      even has the largest cash prize in Canada,
                                                      providing the Grand Prize winner with $3500
Lord knows how she found the time, but she            and the Discovery prize winner with $1500.
did. Her first play, A Compulsory Option, won                 Are you a student who has written a
the Alberta Playwriting Competition. Now              play? Do you know of a young talent that
I’m not suggesting that you have six kids,            needs to be uncovered? How about a young
but I do suggest that you enter the Alberta           person who simply needs to be encouraged
Playwriting Competition.                              to keep telling stories? Send this young
       Who knows, you might be the next
                                                      playwright our way!
Brad Fraser and win the competition five times.
                                                             APN introduced the Alberta Student
Or you might be like Stephen Massicotte
                                                      Playwriting Contest in the centennial year
and find the contest uncovers your very own
                                                      to find the next generation of voices. There
Mary’s Wedding. Or you might end up like
                                                      are cash prizes for the first, second, and third
Vern Thiessen and discover a year from now
that your very own Apple has been running for         place winners.
twelve months non-stop in Poland.
                                                      The Alberta Playwriting Contest deadline is March 31st
       These are but a few of the distinguished
                                                      annually; the Alberta Student Playwriting Contest dead-
alumni from the Alberta Playwriting                   line is May 31st annually. For further information and
Competition—the longest-running provincial            entry forms, visit or call
playwriting prize in Canada. The APC                  the Alberta Playwrights’ Network at 1-800-268-8564.

MEET THE BOARD                                     Russell Thomas, Board of Directors
                          Russell Thomas is the Manager of Recruitment & Communications at Keyano College in Fort McMurray. A fierce
                          advocate for the arts, Russell spent six years as publicist and marketing coordinator for Keyano Theatre and as an
                          arts columnist for the Fort McMurray Today. He has been the volunteer President of the Fort McMurray interPLAY
                          Festival for the past decade and was Director of Culture for the 2003 Alberta Seniors Games. Russell’s favourite
                          acting roles in recent years include Crazy Ole Maurice in Beauty and the Beast, Roat in Wait Until Dark, and Biff
                          in Death of a Salesman, all with Keyano Theatre. Originally from Kamsack, Saskatchewan, Russell lives in Fort
                          McMurray with his wife Heather and sons Dylan (7) and Ben (3).

What is your involvement in Theatre Alberta?          McMurray for the past ten years. It excites               development of the community, through its
I was elected to the Board in 2006 as a Director      me to create opportunities for artists to be              programming, the theatre artists it brings to
at Large representing northern Alberta.               seen and appreciated. Our community (Fort                 town, and the opportunities it provides students
                                                      McMurray) has received negative press across              and community members to perform in a first-
What do you consider to be the biggest                North America for being bereft of culture                 class venue.
challenge for theatres and theatre artists            (Chatelaine, Washington Post, et al.). When               If you could hang out with any theatrical
in Alberta?                                           we create opportunities for musicians, actors,            personality—living or dead— for one night,
It is the same old struggle of trying to get a        visual artists, and dancers to emerge from the            who would it be? What would you do?
conservative government to invest in the arts.        shadows, we are often overwhelmed with talent
                                                                                                                I’ll pretend to be a politician and answer
To be the most economically vibrant province          and creativity.                                           the question I wanted you to ask. I’ve been
in the country yet having the lowest per capita                                                                 fortunate to work with and learn from some
                                                      What role do you feel theatre plays in your
funding for the arts is disgusting. Thank God                                                                   tremendous Alberta theatre artists: Tom
the provincial government was able to find                                                                       Peacock, Paul Gélineau, Jonathon Christenson,
$200 million for horse racing, otherwise it           Keyano Theatre has been Fort McMurray’s                   Roger Schultz, Douglas Abel, Robert Shannon,
would be really embarrassing to be an Albertan!       community theatre for over 25 years. It enjoys            and James MacDonald, just to name a few. I am
                                                      a tremendous subscription base of 2,000                   in awe of their creative ability. To enjoy a cold
What inspires you in your own work?                   people and a reputation for producing quality             beer and rousing conversation with any of them
I’ve been involved with an arts festival in Fort      shows. It plays a tremendous role in the artistic         would be an honour.

                                                                                                                                         theatre alberta news       5.
     Here’s where we roll out the welcome    NEW MEMBERS                              RENEWING MEMBERS
     mat to all our new and renewed          Individuals         James McGowan         Individuals        Lindsey Kurpjuweit   Maria Smythe             H. A. Kostash School
                                             Emily Allison       Ryan McKinley         Ken Agrell-Smith   Dale Lee Kwong       Eugene Stickland         Hatterland Children’s
     members for the period from Oct 1,      Tanessa Andres      Stephanie Medford     Kristine Barnes    Brendan Lavery       Glenda Stirling            Theatre
     2006 through Dec 31, 2006. Don’t        Danielle Arseneau   Catherine Medynski    Patrice Barnes     Megan Lawrence       George Stone             Innisfail Town Theatre
                                             Tiffany Ayalik      Simon Mizera          Colleen Bishop     Ellen Leavitt        Allan Stoski             John Maland High
     see your name here? That’s probably     Dean Bareham        Jaclyn Nestman        Jacquelyn Bland-   Barbara Mah          Vicki Stroich              School
                                             David Boda          Charles Netto            Lawrence        Shannon Maliteare    Brenda Sutherland        Kaleidoscope Theatre
     because you joined the organization     Melissa Boisvert    Astrid O’Farrell      Anita Bonstrom     Stefanie Maltais-    Vern Thiessen              of Drumheller
     in one of the other nine months, or     Peter Boychuk       Erin Odell            Reneltta Bourque      Bayda             Theo Thirsk                Society
                                             Carla Brundage      Alan Parish           Sean Bowie         George Mann          Mike Thompson            King’s Players
     you bought a two-year membership        Ken Chapman         Dan Perry             Cara Brown         Greg Martin          Michelle Thorne          L’Unithéâtre
                                             Steven Charlton     Katarina Purich       Nan Bruntjen       Clem Martini         Sam Varteniuk            Leave It To Jane
     and aren’t due for renewal until next   Jill Connell        Eric Rose             Marty Chan         Conni Massing        Ivan Villafuerte           Theatre
     year. Just keep your eyes peeled and    Megan Craig         Michael Rose          Diane Conrad       Jenny McKillop       Chrissy Walli            Leduc Drama Society
                                             Wendy Doerkson      Amanda Rudanec        Bill Daugherty     Terry Middleton      Glenda Warkentin         Louis St Laurent
     you’ll surely see your name in an       Edmond Duggan       Samantha Rumball      Mark Doskoch       Adam Mitchell        Candace Widdifield          School
                                             Terry Ecklund       Lise Ruthardt         Lynn Eaton         Christy Morin        Rebecca Wohlgemuth       Medicine Hat Firehall
     upcoming issue!                         Anna Fodchuk        Barbara Schmid        Dolores Ewen       Gary Murray                                     Theatre
                                                                                                                               Sonia Zimmerman
                                             Brad Goddard        Lise Schultz          Kelly Frewin       Sandra Nicholls                               New Brigden Drama
                                             Jesse Gordon        Robert Smale          Travis Friesen     Wolfgang             Groups                     Club
     A warm and sincere thank-you            Christina Gover     Kaitlin Splane        Stacy Fysh            Noethlichs        Alberta High School      Northern Crossing
                                             Mary Graham         Anne Swist            Isabella Garvey    Lorenzo Pagnotta        Drama Festival          Music/Drama Society
     to the following for their generous                                                                                          Association
                                             Josh Hanson         John Teghtmeyer       Paul Gélineau      Carmen Paterson                               Prime Stock Theatre
     contributions to Theatre Alberta:       Melissa Heagy       Erika Walter          Marie Gervais      Rachel Peacock       Archbishop Jordan          Company
                                             Rosio Hechavarria   Michelle Warkentin    Charles Goulet     Chantal Perron          High School           Pumpjack Players/
     Alex Hawkins, Wendy Lill, Amanda        Franco Imbrogno     Phay Wills            Logan Greschner    Vanessa Porteous     Banff Centre               Whitecourt Drama
     Rudanec, Erika Walter, Rocky Moun-      Sammantha Isaman    Jessica Wood          Becky Halliday     L Marilyn Potts      Churchmice Players         Society
                                             Belinda Jackson     Sarah Wood            Crystal Hanson     Nancy Rakovszky      Concordia College        Red Willow Players
     tain College Theatre Arts Department,   Natasha Joachim     Jeff Woodward         Alex Hawkins       Dana Rayment         Eastglen High School     Rocky Mountain
                                             Kelsey Johnson                            Joan Hawkins       Alanna Rinkel        Empress Theatre            College
     and King’s University College.          Dennis Kaufmon      Groups                Derek Headrick     John Rusich             Society               The Rogue Players
                                             Carmell King        Calmar Drama Club     Jane Heather       Cari Russell         Epcor Centre for the     Slave Lake Musical
                                             Kelsey Krogman      Crystal Park School   Sheila Humphrey    Dawn Sadoway            Performing Arts         Theatre Association
                                             Arun Lakra          Lord Beaverbrook High John Hutchison     Jeannie Sarrazin     Foremost Theatrical      Stage Left Productions

     welcome back
                                             Bob Legare          Two Hills Performing  Julie Ishida       Matt Schaffer           Society               Storybook Theatre
                                             Louise Leroux         Arts Society        Ron Jenkins        Scott Schreiner      Free Will Players          Society
                                             Wendy Lill                                Marisa Jordan      Meredith Scott       Friends of the           Two Hills High School
                                             Ryan Mattila                              April Killins      Julie Serger            Majestic Theatre      University of Calgary
                                                                                       Shirley Konrad     Margaret Shone       Fut in the Hat Theatre   Vegreville Composite
                                                                                       Aaron Krogman      Julie Sinclair          Guild                   School

6.   spring 2007
                                                                                                                                                                     BY MARTIN MORROW.

                                                                                                                                                                                          TA MEMBER

                                                                                             CALGARY’S PCC CONFERENCE

        Some members call it a “nomadic              produced by One Yellow Rabbit with the                                                     indie rock band, The Rheostatics. At the
bazaar.” Others have dubbed it a “powwow.”           University of Calgary, Alberta College of Art                                              same time, the Rodeo also hosted The Shelter:
But however they choose to describe it,              and Design, and Calgary Arts Development                                                   Uqquaq, a work by Quebec’s Genevieve Pepin
Performance Creation Canada is, in the               Authority (among others), had a strong                                                     and Nunavut’s Laurentio Q. Arnatsiaq, which
words of co-founder Michael Green from               educational and community component, with                                                  melded dance, video, and art installation.
One Yellow Rabbit, “an idea whose time has           panels discussing civic and artistic communities                                                  More artistic collaborations of that
come for certain.”                                   and a meeting of performance educators.                                                    sort are starting to happen courtesy of PCC,
        Launched in 2004 at the Rabbit’s             Capturing PCC’s freewheeling spirit, U of C                                                says Green. “A lot of interesting work is being
High Performance Rodeo festival in Calgary,          drama professor Gerry Thurston, one of the                                                 created because people from across the country
the biannual PCC is the first cross-Canada            network’s co-founders, delivered his keynote                                               meet for the first time here and get inspired by
gathering dedicated to that growing                  address in the form of a visual collage.                                                   each other.” And, he adds, while the gatherings
phenomenon, the creator-performer, and                       The organizers also spiced up the
                                                                                                                                                  THE SHELTER: UQQUAQ WITH
focusing specifically on interdisciplinary work.      traditional conference format by integrating
                                                                                                                                                  GENEVIÈVE PEPIN AND LAURENTIO Q. ARNATSIAQ.
Since its kick-off, PCC has held conferences          performances into some panels, with
in St. John’s, Vancouver, Regina, Toronto,           entertaining and revealing results. One, called
and Whitehorse, and this winter returned to          Indigenous Perspectives, became a kind of talk
Alberta and the Rodeo for its seventh and most       show, in which host Marrie Mumford, former
ambitious event to date.                             artistic director of The Banff Centre’s Aboriginal
        Partly inspired by the Informal European     Arts Program, coaxed songs and stories from
Theatre Meeting (IETM), which Green has              performers Lori Blondeau of Saskatoon and
attended as curator of the Rodeo, PCC is a           Margo Kane of Vancouver, while Calgary visual/
loose network of artists, producers, presenters,     performance artist Terrance Houle showed us
educators, and others involved in “performance       how to make bannock and “Indian tacos.” In
creation”—defined simply by Green as “art             another, Q&A, Darren O’Donnell and Naomi
                                                     Campbell of Mammalian Diving Reflex trained
                                                                                                          PHOTOGRAPH BY OLIVIER SAMSON ARCAND

performed by the artists who created it.”
        That art could be the social-issue work      the spotlight on members of the audience, who
of Vancouver’s Headlines Theatre and the             were invited onstage as interview subjects and
“social acupuncture” experiments of Toronto’s        obligingly fielded questions ranging from the
Mammalian Diving Reflex, or the aerial                intimate to the silly in a demonstration of the
acrobatics of Edmonton’s Firefly Theatre and          kind of interactive theatre the company calls
the hip-hop tunes of Calgary’s Dragon Fli            social acupuncture.
Empire—to name just a few of the eclectic                    There was also an opportunity to grill the
participants in the seventh PCC conference,          arts funding agencies, in a noon-hour session
which drew close to 90 delegates and registrants     with representatives of Canadian Heritage,
from Calgary, Edmonton, and across Canada.           the Canada Council, Alberta Foundation
During the course of four days (January 4-7),        for the Arts, and Calgary Arts Development
they attended and/or participated in panels,         Authority. Green says a lack of understanding
performances, demonstrations, and information        of interdisciplinary performance at one of those                                           aren’t intended as a showcase, “it’s actually been
sessions, while spending their off-hours              agencies was among the reasons he started                                                  the case where many of my producing peers
schmoozing in the infectious party atmosphere        PCC. “I wanted it to be a mechanism whereby                                                have been picking up shows from these events.”
of the Rodeo.                                        everyone gets to know each other and the                                                           The next PCC powwow takes place in
        Inclusiveness is key with PCC, hence         discussion [of ] performance creation could then                                           Ottawa and Gatineau this summer. Green says
                                                     be lifted to a higher level,” he says.                                                     the organizers plan to further emphasize the
its broad and varied membership. “Our motto
                                                             Clearly, the funders understand it now.                                            informality of the network and may scrap the
is, ‘You’re a member if you say you are,’” says
                                                     They all provided grants to help cover the                                                 panels altogether. “Maybe they’ll replace them
Green. “Once you’ve attended one PCC, you’re
                                                     conference’s $60,000 budget.                                                               with something like Plato’s Symposium, where we’ll
on the mailing list and invited to participate in
                                                             Of course, the Rodeo itself is big on                                              all just sit around on a couch, get drunk and talk.”
the steering committee if you like. The whole
                                                     interdisciplinary projects. This PCC gathering                                                     To learn more about PCC, go to
idea is to be as open and transparent as possible.
                                                     coincided with the festival’s world premiere                                     
And that will hopefully lead to a generous
sharing of ideas and opportunities.”                 of Five Hole: Tales of Hockey Erotica, a theatre-
                                                                                                                                                Martin Morrow is an arts journalist, theatre critic,
        The content of each conference is            literary-music collaboration between One                                                   and the author of Wild Theatre: The History of One
determined by the hosts and this one, co-            Yellow Rabbit, author Dave Bidini and his                                                  Yellow Rabbit.

                                                                                                                                                                            theatre alberta news       7.

                                         Medicine Hat

     a theatre community about

                                                    1                                                2                                                            3

     Known as The Gas City, Medicine Hat has been in the unique situation of having                         a Hatter starts, they don’t stop until they’ve
     city-owned gas and electrical utilities since the early 1900s. This has resulted in a                  become a world-renowned puppeteer (Ronnie
                                                                                                            Burkett was one of the original people involved
     thriving economy and a long history of subsidized community theatre and cultural
                                                                                                            when Firehall Theatre began in 1976).
     facilities. And with support for the arts comes a flourishing of the arts…                                      Yet despite all this opportunity, the

     F   amously described by Rudyard Kipling as
     having “all hell for a basement,” Medicine Hat’s
                                                        go on!” Apparently an abundance of theatre
                                                        opportunities in a relatively small community
                                                                                                            founders of Fut in the Hat Theatre felt
                                                                                                            something was missing. Canadian drama had
                                                                                                            waxed and waned in Medicine Hat, but around
     vast reserves of natural gas certainly haven’t     can lead to some creative casting and daring        the year 2000 there was very little straight
     hurt its economy. But cash alone can’t produce     leaps of performance.                               drama going on in town. Having just retired
     a play or execute a convincing kick-line. So I            Lilas Litousky remembers seeing over         from teaching drama, Karen Cunningham was
     set out in search of people. The kind of people    100 children at past auditions for Hatterland       in withdrawal. So she called up a couple of her
     we’ve met before: a devoted, hard-working,         Children’s Theatre. When she was unsuccessful       old students, Julie Tracey and Jim Rissling, to
     theatre-loving kind of people.                     in getting a part, she doggedly went to             see if they would be interested in staging Norm
             Tom Rooke lived in a variety of            rehearsals with her older sister (who did get       Foster’s Office Hours.
     different places from Toronto to Winnipeg,          a part), and gradually memorized the play.                   “Medicine Hat loves its musicals—they
     but never got deeply involved in theatre until     Come show time one of the actors fell ill, and      will pack the place if you’re singing, and they
     arriving in Medicine Hat in 1990. Rooke is the     six year-old Lilas was the obvious choice for a     love comedies,” says Cunningham. “If you’re
     Director of Medicine Hat Musical Theatre’s         last-minute substitution.                           not doing those kinds of things, you’ll need a
     upcoming May production of Stephen                        Twenty-five years later, Lilas is President   smaller venue.”
     Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the           of Hatterland, has five company directing
                                                                                                                    Fut in the Hat chooses their shows out of a
     Way to the Forum—his third directing credit        credits, and teaches a music program for
                                                                                                            desire to do them, and thankfully, there’s a desire
     with MHMT.                                         toddlers through MH College. “Acting with
                                                                                                            on the audience’s part to see them. Fut in the Hat
            From costumers to hair designers,           Hatterland helped propel me to my career path
                                                                                                            can usually count on an 80% sell-out level, and
     direction to admin, backstage to onstage,          over 25 years later—all my theatre skills have
                                                                                                            seats really fill up when they get more risqué:
     everyone is a volunteer. Yet Rooke says he’s       become life skills,” says Litousky. “Hatterland
                                                                                                            “We sold out Vagina Monologues last August,
     never fearful of choosing a particular show, as    truly inspired me and still does!”
     there will always be new people coming out: “In                                                        and another one a couple summers ago—Norm
                                                               It’s true you have to watch your step
     Medicine Hat, one thing that always blows me       in Medicine Hat, lest theatre suck you in           Foster’s Self Help,” says Cunningham. “There’s
     away is the amount of talent that’s here.”         unawares. “Often people might not have even         this thing about a guy who died with an erection
            Yet despite some excellent turnouts,        thought of working in the theatre, but then         so it sold out, go figure.”
     several companies recounted the dilemma            someone says ‘You should do this, it’s a lot of             Seven years later Fut in the Hat has 14
     of performers being divided between shows.         fun,’ and pretty soon you’ve got the bug,”          shows under its belt, having just finished a run
     Rooke recalls being recruited into the male        says Rooke.                                         of Daniel MacIvor’s Marion Bridge in early
     dance chorus of MHMT’s 2005 production of                 For Derrick Ironside it started with         February.
     Chicago: “I’m over 60 years old and I do not       building sets. Then it was working backstage,               In Medicine Hat, theatre springs up
     dance. So we had this old white-haired guy         then stage management, then he “somehow             everywhere you go…literally. Companies
     shuffling around on stage, but the audience          wound up” up as Vice-President of Medicine          seem to have claimed every performance space
     didn’t seem to mind. The show must                 Hat Firehall Theatre. And sometimes once            possible, including the old city Fire Hall, Royal

8.   spring 2007
 3 MISERY BY FIREHALL THEATRE PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ESPLANADE                             Medicine Hat Musical Theatre (MHMT) was established in 1960
 4 CHICAGO BY MEDICINE HAT MUSICAL THEATRE                                             and has been producing annual musical theatre productions ever

to ignite
                                                                                     since. Hatterland Children’s Theatre started up in 1965 and has
                                                                                   involved children aged 6-17 in over 100 plays and musicals. Medicine
                                                                                 Hat Firehall Theatre Society joined the scene in 1976, starting out as
                                                                                Lunch Box Theatre and progressing to everything from full-length plays,
                                                                                interactive dinner theatre, pantomimes, and musicals. Fut in the Hat
                                                                               Theatre Guild sprung up in 2000, tackling two shows a year of primarily
                                                                                bold Canadian dramas.

                                                                                 In a city with just over 56,000 residents, Medicine Hat also boasts count-
                                                                                  less other opportunities to get involved in theatre, including Prism Players
                                                                                    Theatre Association, GasLight Theatre Guild, Theatrics, three theatre-
                                                                                      involved high schools, an annual ADFA One-Act Play Festival, and theatre
                                                                                         training through Medicine Hat College.


 Canadian Legion, Golf and Country Club,              of head-butting before it came to be. We’re a         and they did an amazing job.”
 church basements, and public library.                hockey town and people here love their sports.”               But theatre moves quickly in Medicine
        Two venues stand out as being core                    Luckily, Esplanade Artistic Director Paul     Hat, and the Esplanade will soon lose its
 theatre spaces over the years: the Medicine          Heywood managed to program a delightfully             cachet as the town’s newest theatre facility. A
 Hat Cultural Centre with its intimate 106-seat       varied première season: from a double-bill            joint venture between MHMT and Firehall
 Black Box Theatre, and the 500-seat Medicine         of Canadian comedians Cory Mack and                   Theatre, a brand-spanking new 10,000 foot
 Hat College Theatre.                                 Mike MacDonald to the Shanghai Circus to              facility is due to open later this year, providing
        However, these spaces aren’t always ideal:    Canadian rock and roll legend Randy Bachman,          rehearsal space, workshop space, storage space,
 major productions at the MH College Theatre          different interest groups were gradually lured         office space, and party space for community
 don’t have access to a fly gallery or backstage       through the Esplanade doors.                          theatre groups.
 space, and would often require building a                    “At first people were very apprehensive                Firehall and MHMT have cooperated
 larger stage. Some companies have spent days         about the building—there was the stereotype
                                                                                                            on storage and equipment use for many years:
 reshaping the lecture-style theatre into a venue     that it would be just ballet and symphonies,”
                                                                                                            “It’s a progression that’s a long time coming,”
 that meets their needs.                              says Heywood. “Now they’re responding in
                                                                                                            says Ironside. In the spirit of cooperation,
        On October 22, 2005 all this changed, as      droves, coming out to all different sorts of
                                                                                                            Firehall and MHMT jointly produced Little
 the Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre opened          productions.”
                                                                                                            Shop of Horrors last fall at the Esplanade, the
 its doors and introduced two new theatre                     With 62,000 theatre-goers in a single year
                                                                                                            proceeds of which will go towards equipping
 spaces: a 700-seat Main Stage, and a 150-seat        and over 55 sold out performances, Heywood’s
                                                                                                            their new workshop.
 Studio Theatre, giving Medicine Hat theatre          main concern is finding enough qualified
                                                                                                                    Meanwhile, Fut in the Hat has no
 groups access to a 50-foot proscenium stage, full    technicians to staff these blockbuster events.
                                                                                                            plans to abandon their intimate Black Box
 fly tower, orchestra pit, floor traps, state-of-the-           This infusion of touring groups certainly
                                                                                                            Theatre for the Esplanade. Fut in the Hat
 art sound and lighting booth, and box office.          hasn’t detracted from community productions:
                                                                                                            instead applied for and received a $27,000
        The Medicine Hat theatre community            “Since the introduction of the Esplanade, our
                                                                                                            Community Facility Enhancement Program
 was by and large strongly supportive of the          theatre lifestyle has exploded. Our cultural centre
 idea to build the Esplanade—there was no             is booked more than ever now,” says Litousky.         grant to refurbish the Black Box Theatre—an
 equivalent performance space in town that                    In fact, community theatre groups             amount that was matched by both the City
 could accommodate larger touring groups              often draw the most considerable Esplanade            and the College, adding another $60,000 to
 and highly technical shows. This world-class         crowds: MHMT’s production of Chicago (Nov.            the pot. The final improvements (including
 theatre meant big-name performers were now           2005) sold out eight performances, while their        new seating, lighting, and a paint job) were
 touring Medicine Hat, creating a veritable (yet      production of Little Shop of Horrors (Oct. 2006)      completed this past summer.
 metaphorical) cultural explosion.                    with Firehall Theatre sold out five.                           From the young to the seasonably
        Despite the possibilities this facility               A cast of 43 Hatterland performers            matured, Medicine Hat’s theatre community
 presents, not everyone was delighted at the          managed to fill over half the Esplanade seats          represents many things: a network of friends,
 prospect of spending 27 million city dollars         in three consecutive performances of Mother           a stepping-stone to professional opportunities,
 (in addition to $42 million in federal and           Goose, Inc. (Dec. 2005). “The kids had a blast,”      thrilling ways of creating and expressing stories…
 provincial grants) on a space for the arts.          says Litousky, who directed the show. “Because                “We’re all amateurs here,” says Rooke,
 Litousky remembers the Esplanade being a             it’s a bigger theatre, some people were a little      “and we do it for what amateur means—for the
 big issue in the community: “There was a lot         hesitant that kids could fill such a big stage,        love of the sport, the game, the theatre.”

                                                                                                                                     theatre alberta news        9.
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10.   spring 2007
                                                                                                                                 BY JANE M AC FARLANE.

an essential exploration of
                                                                                                                                 TA MEMBER

body, voice, and word                                                       RADA’s performance breath conference

A       s careers in the theatre carry on, from

                                                                                                                                                                   PHOTOGRAPH BY STEPHANIE JOHNSON
time to time one is compelled to take stock.
Is there anything new out there in terms
of approaches to actor training, specifically
in terms of voice and speech? Where then,
to further explore this concept and share
in technique? This past fall, my colleague
David Ley mentioned a conference at
RADA Enterprises (the outreach arm of the
famed Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in
London) on Performance Breath. The added
advantage of speakers like Cicely Berry,
Kristin Linklater, Patsy Rodenburg, and the
teaching faculty at RADA made this the ideal
opportunity at the appropriate juncture.
         Although Ms. Berry was ill and unable
her absence. My own training is based on             ON MITCHELL VERIGIN.

Linklater’s seminal work Freeing the Natural
Voice, which she has recently revised and            received from this session was confirmation         that the tradition of conservatory training in
expanded upon. Her work felt familiar,               that it is what it is and I understand it fully.   this country is as vital, contemporary, and
essential, and contemporary. As a start to           The respiratory surgeon who spoke about            thorough as some of the esteemed programs
the conference, it was a basic refresher and         the lungs—how they function and disorders,         around the world. I discovered that what I
confirmation of the work that brought me to           especially caused by smoking—was engaging          bring to my classroom is absolutely on par
this place.                                          and had the best arguments against smoking         with the work at RADA and the Central
         Following the opening remarks from          I have heard. The reactions the body has to        School of Speech & Drama and that my
the principal of RADA, Nicholas Barter, there        toxins and its instinct to save itself from the    colleagues both at Mount Royal College and
were two keynote addresses in the Vanbrugh           inhaled smoke causes it to essentially shut        across the province attend to their discipline
Theatre, where RADA students have their              down the mechanism needed to produce               with a rigour that matches the theatre capitals
public performances. The first was Catherine          sound. This is a very simplified distillation of    of world.
Fitzmaurice who is a voice coach and trainer of      his argument and, thankfully more and more,               Towards the end of the conference in a
her own method of Reflexive and Structured            he is preaching to the converted.
                                                                                                        Discursive Workshop with Kristin Linklater
Breathing. I have taken workshops with her                  Another speech was given by American
                                                                                                        and two RADA instructors, Ms. Linklater
in the past and, while in theory (as presented       voice teacher Rocco Dal Vera, whose research
                                                                                                        asked if there was a sense of legacy amongst
in her keynote address) I find it to be a solid       on breathing and emotion was very engaging
                                                                                                        the voice teachers in room. I certainly felt a
philosophy, in practice I question its application   and provoking. Dal Vera demonstrated that
                                                                                                        connection to her work and a belief that—as
to the actor’s process. After the conference, I am   by breaking down the physical responses
still left with the same questions.                                                                     a practice that leads to connection with text
                                                     our bodies have to emotion and how those
         I did come across something new in                                                             and the expression of ideas—it is valid and
                                                     responses influence breathing patterns, we
the second keynote on the Accent Method,             can provoke subconscious reactions in our          essential to actor training. In the final panel
by Dinah Harris and Sara Harris. The Accent          audiences. This is a very simple explanation of    with Kristin Linklater, Patsy Rodenburg, and
Method is mainly applied by speech language          a scientific approach to looking at emotional       David Carey (the Head of Voice at RADA),
therapists and singing teachers, and uses the        states as being represented by respiration         the sense of familiarity and connection to
same diaphragmatic/abdominal breathing               patterns, postural attitude, facial expression,    their own experiences as trainers solidified
to engage sound freely as is used for actor          speech rate, voice quality, etc. In other words,   my own convictions regarding what lies
training. As it uses a more scientific approach       body language.                                     ahead. Sometimes, one just needs to trust
to vocal practice and physiology/pathology, it              My initial desire to attend the             what one knows!
is a path I want to research further in order to     conference was to gain new knowledge, to
enhance the ideas of embodied breath/sound.          have that “ah hah!” moment where I would           Jane MacFarlane teaches voice and speech in the Depart-
                                                                                                        ment of Theatre at Mount Royal College. She attended the
         The actual science of breathing had its     find a new path to go down as both a teacher        Performance Breath Conference at the Royal Academy of
highs and lows at the meeting: the anatomy           and as an artist/practitioner. This was not        Dramatic Arts in London, England from January 4-5.
and physiology is finite, therefore all I             at all what I found. I did discover, however,

                                                                                                                                     theatre alberta news                                            11.
      technology and the human condition
      dramatizing in a time of change
                            Theatre Alberta was honoured and delighted to host Wendy Lill as the keynote speaker
                            at PlayWorks Ink 2006 in Calgary. The following is an abridged version of her keynote
                            address, delivered on November 3, 2006.

      N       othing baffles me more than the
      description of DNA and the double helix.
                                                          research and reproductive technology are only
                                                          the most high-profile issues. We now have
                                                                                                                The research is astonishingly expensive, yet
                                                                                                                biotechnology is the fastest growing sector in
      John Mighton would probably just say I had          the technology to develop artificial wombs to          the country. What gets funded and researched
      bad teachers. Whatever. DNA hadn’t been             separate women from reproduction, to implant          is determined to a great extent by what will
      discovered yet when I was in high school.           chips onto retinas to give us more than 20/20         have the greatest payoff in the end, and who
      And at some point you’ve got to get over            vision, and to create nanodialysis units so small     can afford the benefits of that particular drug
      the shortcomings in your education and just         they can be implanted in the body.                    or enhancement.
      get on with it, because as David Suzuki and                 This is the environment in which
      Peter Knudtsson point out in their book             we are now living and it is wonderful and               One final point of Baylis’ stuck with me.
      Genethics—90% of all scientists who have ever       miraculous.                                              Scientists and biotech boosters like to
      lived are still alive, publishing and discovering           But it raises important ethical questions.    dismiss concerns raised about their work as
      today. None of this stuff is going to slow down      What does it mean to be human in light of                 simply science fiction or crazy talk.
      anytime soon!                                       all of these enhancements and replacements?
                                                                                                                   But according to Baylis there is really
              How do we write plays that will be          Would these things make me an exquisite
      relevant? The idea of “having done your             piece of humanity or a freak? What does                 nothing we could imagine that is wilder
      research” is in itself somewhat of a folly. By      it mean for persons with disabilities to               than what is happening or being contem-
      the time you’ve written a line of dialogue,         participate in a world where the quest for                     plated even as we sit here.
      something has probably changed. How do we           excellence and perfection has become almost a
      shed light on the world we’re living in when the    religion? Where do they fit in as “The Norm”                   I went to a conference of scientists at
      ground under our feet is constantly changing?       keeps moving farther out of reach?                    the University of Arizona in Phoenix where
              In 1997, I became the Member of                     To sort out all these troubling issues that   the topic being discussed was cross-species
      Parliament for my community of Dartmouth,           had started to work their way into my brain,          research. I was introduced as a playwright and
      Nova Scotia. During my years as an MP, I was        I went to see a bioethicist. I found Francoise        parliamentarian from Canada—couldn’t have
      the NDP critic for the Arts and for persons         Baylis (Canada Research Chair in Bioethics            been a much rarer bird than that.
      with disabilities.                                  and Philosophy at Dalhousie University) in a                  I soon found out the debate is no
                                                                                                                longer about whether or not to do cross-
              In 2004, Parliament passed an Act           tiny office in an old brick building on campus.
                                                                                                                species research, but whether there should be
      overseeing Human Reproductive Tech-                 A tiny office full of big ideas.
                                                                                                                any limits. The debate seems to focus on the
      nologies. The Act was put in place to safeguard             Baylis had been on the ethical oversight
                                                                                                                brain and the gonads as the only problematic
      those who use assisted human reproduction           body that guided the federal government in
                                                                                                                areas—everything else is open season.
      and those who are born of these technologies.       the creation of their Human Reproductive
                                                                                                                        At this conference I met Stuart
      In this country we now prohibit creating a          Technology Act. Here are some of the
                                                                                                                Newman—a soft-spoken man in his early-
      human clone, genetically altering the germline,     observations Francoise made on the passing
                                                                                                                sixties and definitely the skunk at the garden
      maintaining an embryo outside of the woman’s        show: This latest technological revolution we         party with this group. Newman is a biologist
      body beyond 14 days, creating human embryos         are involved in—the genetic revolution—is             from New York whose highly publicized
      solely for research purposes, and creating          directed towards the human body. We are now           efforts to gain a patent on a half-human,
      animal-human hybrids for reproductive               able to extract pieces of human DNA and               half-animal creation—a chimera—has caused
      purposes. The act had been ten years in the         reproduce it, alter it, and transfer it to another    a great stir.
      making because the issues are so controversial.     human or to an animal. The technologies                       Newman had no intention of actually
              Despite the view that Question Period       involving human reproduction are already              creating such a creature, but instead wanted
      is like the school yard at the local Junior High,   bringing about a profound cultural change.            to raise the issue of human-animal chimeras
      I do believe that the House of Commons is                   There is a concept that still gets trotted    and other types of biologically manipulated
      the biggest stage in the country and a forum        out, that science is value neutral and therefore      humans. He believes that we need binding
      for its most important ideas.                       cannot be wrong or right. However, Francoise          restrictions in place to stop us from crossing
              The clash of religious, scientific, and      Baylis made the point that there is a lot of          troubling lines of species integrity. How
      political beliefs on issues such as stem cell       “world view” built into stem cell research.           will we as the human community handle

12.   spring 2007
                                                    CHIMERA BY WENDY LILL, DIRECTED BY MARY VINGOE.
                                                    JOHN DOLAN, JOAN GREGSON, PHILIPPA DOMVILLE,
                                                    GEOFFREY POUNSETT, DAVID JANSEN, DAVID FOX.
         TA MEMBER


                                                                                                                                    PHOTOGRAPHS BY BY JOHN CURRID

the arrival of fabricated humans and near-        cut right through to the imagination and               positions. It’s about media circuses, political
humans, organisms that previously existed         engage it.                                             spin doctors, stem cell research, survival of
only in the realm of speculative fiction?                 Theatre is a place where you can think          the fittest, gardening, runaway technologies,
       With commercial interests continually      about life—Life with a capital L. It’s a dark          and people full of regrets. I hope it all holds
touting the benefits of such breakthroughs,        place and it’s a safe place; it’s a time to let your   together but I guess we’ll see soon enough.
the production of quasi-humans for research       imagination move, exercise, take risks, take                  I have just spent two weeks in Toronto
or therapy isn’t far behind. Stewart Newman’s     flight; it’s an arena to catch the spirit of the        workshopping Chimera—two weeks with six
case has since been thrown out of court, but      time, to help shape it.                                actors and a director thrashing out the shape
not before causing a stir, and not before firing          In January 2007, my new play Chimera            of the world. As the playwright, I love the
a shot across the bow of the biotech and legal    will be premiering at the Tarragon Theatre in          idea that you just set the table, put the frame
community in the U.S.                             Toronto. It is the product of my discussions           around the discussion and then watch the
       So what does this all have to do with      with scientists and ethicists and seven years in       ideas start to fly from different perspectives.
theatre?                                          political life.                                        I have always found that life is far less scary
       Theatre has always been about exploring           The story is about a journalist who fuels       when you have company on the journey.
the universals, the eternal verities of the       a debate about cross-species research to find
                                                                                                                  Whether it’s global warming,
human condition: birth, death, love, frailty,     a cure for a disability and ends up having to
hate, family, loyalty, good and evil.             confront his own dark past with his disabled                 biotechnology, child abuse, or love,
       What a piece of work is man, how           brother. The issue of cross-species research,             theatre provides company and courage.
noble in reason… What would Shakespeare           the creation of novel beings—this spectre                   It has a role to play in making sense
write if he were alive today? Or Bertolt          particularly chills me, likely because I have               of things. It sparks the imagination
Brecht? We have a huge challenge ahead of         witnessed the poor treatment of many so-
                                                                                                                      and sets the discourse.
us to dramatize the world we’re living in. Part   called marginal people in our midst already.
of the challenge in theatre is to try to combat          Chimera looks at the idea of protecting                 So let’s start now. As the bioethicist says,
the ennui, the indifference, the information       the vulnerable and how everyone purports to            let’s start the crazy talk, and see if we can make
exhaustion, the sense of powerlessness, and       be doing just that from diametrically opposed          some great plays out of it.

      Can                     ���������
     puppets              ����������                                            Through hands-on workshops,
     change                           ��������                                  lectures, a puppet parade and a
       the                       � ��                                           panel discussion, world renowned
      world ?               �����������
                                         ��                                     experts show how YOU can use
                                                                                puppets to instigate social change.

                                              Presented by                              May 25-27, 2007
                                                                                 Rozsa Centre, University of Calgary

                                                                                                                                   theatre alberta news         13.
                                                                                                                                           BY CLEM MARTINI.

                                                                                                                                                           TA MEMBER

                                                   shedding a little light
      I  f on occasion—say after reading a
      particularly gloomy newspaper headline, or
                                                            Resident Playwright spends half his/her time
                                                            writing and half his/her time engaged in
                                                                                                                the membrane that divides the two.
                                                                                                                        Residencies at universities are of
      after receiving the depressingly familiar results     dramaturgical work with local playwrights,          enormous benefit to everyone precisely because
      of a provincial election—the world seems a            students, and professional theatres. This           they expose the particular strengths that
      grim and tawdry place, it may be useful to            position is a very welcome addition to the          the academic and professional communities
      consider the few shafts of light that penetrate       cultural landscape. It benefits not only the         possess, and the places where their talents
      the deep darkness, call attention to them, and        theatre community in Edmonton, but the              converge. One of the elements that a residency
      celebrate.                                            cultural communities of Alberta and Canada          at a university is best positioned to provide a
             Case in point. For many years I’ve             as well.                                            playwright is that rarest commodity—time.
      railed that playwrights are unfairly excluded                 I say that this residency holds benefits     Time to reflect and explore characters and
      from many of the writer-in-residence posts            for Albertans and Canadians, but I am aware         narrative and structure without an imposing
      established at post-secondary institutions            that there are some misguided few who               deadline. Residencies generate valuable insights
      across the country. For the bizarrest and most        cannot see how what happens in an academic          into the creative process for students hungry
      obscure of reasons, poets, novelists, journalists,    institution can have application or impact          for fresh opinions and ideas from outside the
      creative non-fictionalists, chapbook generators,       upon the broader theatre community. This            institution, but equally the playwright-in-
      and scribblers from every diverse and obscure         narrow point of view sees theatre as it is taught   residence is often available to deliver critique
      kind of literary genre other than playwriting         in post-secondary institutions and theatre as       and advice to writers who have not registered in
      have found themselves invited to apply for            it is practiced in professional theatres as two     classes and are struggling on their own without
      these positions. Playwriting, like Cinderella in      entirely distinct species separated by a wide       the benefit of mentorship.
      her plain cinder-besmirched frock, has found          chasm. On the one side are wizened, world                   The Lee Residency isn’t brand new
      herself excluded from the ball. This reflects the      weary theatre professionals smoking cigarettes      by any means (it has already engaged one
      curiously wrong-headed notion held in at least        and staring cynically across the divide. On the     Playwright-In-Residence, the celebrated
      some academic circles, that playwriting isn’t         other side are the bookish theatre academics in     playwright and novelist Don Hannah), but
      a genuine form of creative writing, but rather        the caps and gowns, barely giving the divide        one can see that the innovative structure that
      something more like a collectively agreed             a second glance, immersed as they are in their      this residency has chosen to employ represents
      upon notion that actors and directors accept,         studies.                                            a template that other universities might well
      augment, and then burnish.                                    It’s a false paradigm, of course. The two   consider scrutinizing. It is especially well
             Well, at least one academic institution        arenas are simply the yin and yang of the same      endowed, providing a healthier stipend than
      is presently doing its bit to remedy this             process. One only has to count the immense          many other residencies currently do. It also
      unfortunate situation. I refer to the Lee             number of young people that pass through            offers a commission to the playwright to
      Playwright-in-Residence position, housed              the halls of post-secondary institutions            generate a new work, and then further offers a
      at the University of Alberta. This residency          and then move on to form professional               stage for the production of that commission.
      is made possible by a generous endowment              theatre companies, or design or act or direct       Considered together, this package represents a
      created by the Clifford E. Lee Foundation.             for theatre companies in this province to           very clever, thoughtful, artful arrangement.
      It occurs on an annual basis and the selected         understand just how permeable and delicate is               In a wealthy province that often feels
                                                                                                                curiously reserved about its support of the fine
                                                                                                                arts, the level of commitment and enthusiasm
                                                                                                                evidenced by this institutional gesture is most
                IN MEMORIAM                                                                                     welcome. One can only hope that this kind of
                                                                                                                spirit is catching.
                James Mavor Moore 1919 – 2006
                Mavor Moore will be remembered for his life-long dedication to the arts in Canada,              An award-winning playwright, screenwriter, and novelist,
                as a playwright, actor, director, producer, composer, administrator, and educator. He           Clem Martini is a three time winner of the Alberta Writer’s
                                                                                                                Guild Drama Prize (Nobody of Consequence, Illegal
                died in Victoria on December 8, 2006 at the age of 87.
                                                                                                                Entry, and A Three Martini Lunch), a Governor Gen-
                Mavor Moore was a prolific writer, having authored over 100 plays, documentaries,                eral Drama Nominee for his anthology A Three Martini
                and musicals for stage, radio, and television. He also founded a wide variety of Canadian       Lunch, and is the current president of the Playwrights
                                                                                                                Guild of Canada. His trilogy of novels, The Crow Chroni-
                institutions, including the Canadian Theatre Centre and the Guild of Canadian
                                                                                                                cles, has been distributed world wide, and translated into
                Playwrights, the Charlottetown Festival, and Toronto’s St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.        Dutch, German, Swedish, and Japanese. An Associate
                Mavor Moore was named to the Order of Canada in 1973 and in 1999 was awarded a                  Professor of Drama at the University of Calgary, Clem lives
                Governor General’s Award for lifetime achievement in the performing arts.                       in Calgary with his wife and two daughters.

14.   spring 2007
ALBERTA’S DRAMA                                   THE BUZZ
FESTIVALS                                         news and notes from around the province
ALBERTA HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA FESTIVAL                EDMONTON ANNOUNCED CULTURAL CAPITAL                   Swim Alone, The Soldier Dreams, You Are Here,
ASSOCIATION                                                                                             and In on It, as well as the last official da da
                                                  The City of Edmonton has been awarded the
Excitement is high as high school teachers and    2007 Cultural Capitals of Canada award in the         kamera original production, A Beautiful View.
students across Alberta are busy rehearsing       over 125,000 population category—a testa-
                                                                                                        AATE CONFERENCE COMES TO CANADA
their one act plays for presentation at AHSDFA    ment not only to the hard work of the applica-
                                                  tion team (led by the Edmonton Arts Council),         The American Alliance for Theatre and Educa-
zone festivals throughout the province.
                                                  but also to the creativity and determination of       tion’s 2007 conference is entitled Sea to Sky:
The 2007 provincial festival takes place May      Edmonton’s artists and arts organizations.            Swimming Upstream—Spawning New Horizons.
10-12 at the Red Deer College Arts Centre—                                                              Headed to Canada for the first time, the confer-
                                                  Cultural Capitals of Canada is a federal award
a long-time supporter and venue for AHSDFA.                                                             ence takes place July 31-August 5 in Vancouver.
                                                  program designed to promote arts and culture
It is a festival unique to Alberta, where high    in Canadian municipalities. This means not only       For more information or to register, visit
school students are recognized and celebrated     recognition and prestige, but also a consider-
for their excellence and achievement in the       able amount of cash: the Feds will contribute a
performing arts.                                  maximum of $2 million to the City of Edmon-           TEACHING AWARDS FOR TWO EDMONTON
                                                  ton, while the City itself plans to kick in another   MEMBERS
We welcome members of the general public to
                                                  $1 million.                                           On December 5, 2006, Prime Minister Harper
attend the event and watch the amazing young                                                            announced the 2006 Prime Minister’s Awards
                                                  These funds will go toward new programs
talent in our province.                                                                                 for Teaching Excellence. Among the recognized
                                                  associated with Edmonton’s year of Building
For more information visit                        Connections, including Edmonton Explorations          were two Edmonton arts educators (not to
                                                  Grants, Edmonton Community Arts Projects,             mention Theatre Alberta members!). or contact
AHSDFA President Trina Penner at                  and Edmonton Arts Awareness and Marketing.            Mary-Ellen Perley-Waugh received a Certifi- or (403) 347-1171.            For such a big excitement there are still very few    cate of Excellence for her work with grade
                                                  details… For the latest Cultural Capital news,        10-12 students at McNally High School, where
                                                  keep an eye on                she teaches English language arts, world
ALBERTA DRAMA FESTIVAL ASSOCIATION                                                                      literature, and creative writing. This prestigious
                                                  THEATRE 100                                           national award carries a cash prize of $5000,
The ADFA 2007 One Act Play Festival is up and
                                                                                                        to be issued to Mary-Ellen’s school.
running, as performers take the stage in nine                 A centennial project undertaken by
                                                              the Alberta Playwrights’ Network,         Linette Smith received the regional Certificate
regional festivals across the province.
                                                              Theatre 100: Celebrating 100 Theatre      of Achievement for her work with grade 10-12
The 2007 Provincial One Act Festival takes                                                              students at Eastglen High School in drama,
                                                               Practitioners Over 100 Years has
place in High River on May 11-12. This event is                finally hit the stands. This compre-      performing arts, and dance, earning her school
a non-competitive celebration of drama and an                   hensive book celebrates the contri-     a cash prize of $1000.
opportunity for members of community theatre                    butions of 100 Albertans who have
groups to meet, exchange ideas, and grow                        made significant theatre achieve-        CADA SUCCESS!
creatively.                                                     ments over the past century. A          The Calgary Arts Development Authority
                                                  dazzling record of our province’s theatre history,    (CADA) was successful in its proposal to reform
Both participants and the public are invited to                                                         the city’s arts granting system to the tune of
                                                  this book will be an invaluable tool in preserving
take part in this dynamic festival.               Alberta’s legacy for future generations.              a $502,500 increase (approximately 20%),
For more information visit or                                                               recently approved by City Council. This was
                                                  Theatre 100 can be purchased by contacting APN
contact ADFA President Steve McHugh at                                                                  a much-needed infusion, with municipal arts
                                                                                                        funding in Calgary lower than in any other or (780) 634-1898.            or by visiting McNally-Robinson Booksellers in
                                                                                                        major Canadian city. The funds will begin to
                                                  Calgary or the University of Alberta Bookstore
                                                                                                        address the critical shortfalls CADA identified in
                                                  in Edmonton.
                                                                                                        their 2006 studies, and will provide an impor-
                                                                                                        tant funding increase for Calgary’s artists and
                                                  GG FOR MACIVOR
                                                                                                        arts organizations.
                                                        Despite some stiff competition from
                                                        Morwyn Brebner, Lisa Codrington,                LLOYDMINSTER: ART WITHOUT BORDERS
                                                        Jason Sherman, and Drew Hayden Taylor,
                                                                                                        Every two years the Lieutenant Governor of
                                                         the 2006 Governor General’s Literary
                                                                                                        Alberta Arts Awards (three prizes of $30,000) are
                                                         Award in Drama went to Daniel MacIvor
                                                                                                        awarded to individual Albertans who have made
                                                          for his collection of five plays entitled I
                                                                                                        outstanding achievements in and contributions
                                                          Still Love You.
                                                                                                        to the arts. Although the 2007 nomination dead-
                                                             Published by Playwrights Canada Press,     line has already passed, it’s not too late to attend
                                                        I Still Love You marks the twentieth an-        the Gala event in Lloydminster and take part in
                                                  niversary of MacIvor’s Toronto theatre company        their two-day “Art Without Borders” festival.
                                                  (in partnership with producer Sherrie Johnson)        The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards
                                                  da da kamera. The collection includes four of         will be presented on May 26, 2007 in Lloydmin-
                                                  MacIvor’s previously published plays: Never           ster:

                                                                                                                          theatre alberta news          15.
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