For the past four years, every quarter, I get together with the Theatre Alberta board of directors and we talk about projects, issues and ideas around the world of theatre in the province. Yesterday Claude and I drove all the way from cloudy Fort McMurray to sunny Calgary to attend what will be my final set of discussions, my two two-year terms are coming to an end in July.
The Theatre Alberta board is made up of a broad cross-section of theatre practitioners from Grande Prairie and Fort McMurray in the north to High River and Lethbridge in the south. There are teachers, at both the secondary and post-secondary levels, producers, directors, artistic directors, actors, stage managers and marketing heads, all of whom add depth and meaning to the tenor of the conversations.
Theatre Alberta is a Provincial Arts Service Organizations (PASO), base-funded through the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. It has been around a long time, and in more recent times under the day-to-day leadership of Marie Gynane-Willis, has enjoyed an unparalleled period of stability and managed growth and development. So, what does Theatre Alberta do? Good question.
As a PASO, it throws a lasso around the theatre communities of Alberta--educational, community and professional--and brings them together in a variety of ways.
Serving all those constituencies, Theatre Alberta owns and maintains the largest collection of plays in the province. As a member you can order a selection (or two or three) online and it will be mailed to you free of charge. No matter what constituency you are playing around in, this is a service that is invaluable when you're looking for that perfect next project.
Theatre Alberta brings theatre students together with the professional community through Emerge, a mass audition call in both Edmonton and Calgary. Many of the artistic directors, from theatres large and small, gather together to see the best of the best coming out of the colleges and universities.
Through their 50 year old Dramaworks and Artstrek programs, Theatre Alberta has been one of the key providers of summer learning experiences for residents of our province for decades. If you were to take a straw poll of theatre people in Alberta or across the country who originated here, you'd be shocked to see how many people have been through these programs. Celebrations are being planned for this summer, organized by Paul Morgan Donald and a committee of the board.
This organization also executes some tremendous outreach programs and initiatives like Workshops by Request, where theatre artists travel to far flung areas of the province to assist theatre group in the development of their craft. Safe Stages was a two-year project that resulted in a comprehensive safety manual, specifically designed for the theatre world, that was distributed to theatre groups and organizations large and small.
Theatre Alberta has grown to become the confluence of theatrical rivers of practice, the mechanism by which you find out what's happening in the largest of houses to the smallest of community theatres, from the world of the equity actor to the world of high school drama. Publishing a monthly e-newsletter (Theatre Buzz) and a quarterly magazine (All Stages), Theatre Alberta keeps these physically disparate, universally engaged, interests connected.
This organization is heading into challenging, yet interesting, waters. With provincial funding cuts expected, along with new leadership from incoming Executive Director Keri Ekberg, this is going to be a dynamic time for the board and staff. But, there is strength in numbers and infinite potential in good intentions.
To find out more visit the Theatre Alberta website at http://www.theatrealberta.com/, or call toll-free at 1-888-422-8160. If you love being involved in theatre, no matter where you are in Alberta, this is an organization that you MUST join!
April 24, 2010 - 192 pounds, 28.2% body fat
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