By Kyle Russell, Interim Executive Director
As the world celebrates theatre today, it’s a natural moment to share why I feel so proud to be a part of the magic of our art form at Alberta Theatre Projects.
Every day, our wonderful family of artists and staff amaze me in the creation of world-class contemporary theatre, even as we go through a global pandemic. While we haven’t been able to welcome audiences to our home in the Martha Cohen Theatre since March 11 of last year, our company has been busy focusing on our roots of new play development.
Today, our company is proud to have 12 new works in various stages of development, many of which are part of our Playwrights Unit. The Unit, a group of 8 playwrights at various stages of their career, have met regularly throughout the last year as they each create a new play and collaborate on ideas with each other while gaining the support of a major company like ours for dramaturgy, workshopping, and general mentorship. This program connects artists with each other as they create new works and is a shining example of how theatre can still be catalyzed during the pandemic thanks to the passion of artists who love bringing stories to life. I’m so excited to witness drafts of their new plays during Playwrights Projects 2021 every Friday night from April 16 to May 28, and you can join in on this unique experience of witnessing what could be the next major blockbuster in these scripts’ earliest public presentations.
While these professional artists develop new works, Alberta Theatre Projects has also welcomed those at the very beginning of their creative journey with our Student Writers Group. These talented high schoolers have also been meeting regularly over the last few months to develop their own work, which will be presented by a professional cast on May 15, and we can’t wait to witness the future of theatre from this next generation of emerging artists.
Yesterday’s announcement of Stealing Sam is one of the most exciting for our company this year. This production marks the first time since last March that a full production will be staged in the Martha Cohen Theatre. Stealing Sam will be broadcast to our audiences’ homes in about one month.
There is a lot of heart in Stealing Sam, both in the beautiful story it tells of a man who steals the ashes of his best friend for one last goodbye, to the production itself, which is in honor of our late Executive & Artistic Director, Darcy Evans. Darcy created this play alongside writer/performer Steven Gallagher, who is travelling to Calgary next week to begin rehearsals with Darcy’s partner Andrew Scanlon, the director of the piece. We’ve long thought of this play as a way for our community to come together to celebrate the magic of everything Alberta Theatre Projects has accomplished in recent years, and I personally hope you’ll join us in our first full production in over a year this April.
From a successful lineup of children’s day camps to the staged reading of The Wizard of Oz in December, there has been a lot for us to celebrate since we celebrated World Theatre Day at this time last year. There is still a world of theatre taking place at Alberta Theatre Projects, which is the perfect reason to celebrate World Theatre Day. Though we can’t meet in person, I’d like to personally thank you for being a part of our community and hope we can celebrate together in person soon.
Until then, I can’t wait for you to experience the magic of contemporary theatre in the months ahead.
Happy World Theatre Day 2021,
Interim Executive Director