From Cradle to Stage 2019
May 13 to 18
10322 – 83 Ave.
Tickets: $18 to $20. Call 780-420-1757 or online at www.tixonthesquare.ca
When a dedicated dozen of British ex-patriot actors kick-started Walterdale Theatre six decades ago, they never imagined it would come to play such a vital role in the community.
Leafing through its catalogue, the community theatre company has presented comedies, farces, dramas, tragedies and mysteries exploring period pieces from Greek and Roman plays to current day sentiments.
Similar to the Edmonton Fringe Festival, many of the shows were great. Some were mediocre and a few, unfortunately, were duds. However regional audiences never had to go far to enjoy inexpensive live entertainment.
And actors, directors, designers and builders discovered an avenue to hone their talents and skills. Today the bar has risen considerably and first-timers work alongside professionals and semi-professionals.
To celebrate this momentous occasion, the 2019 From Cradle to Stage offers a retrospective of never before told stories and narratives of people who gave of their time and resources to transform a firehall into a theatre.
“It’s a gathering of stories and memories onstage and behind the scenes, primarily monologues,” said dramaturg Kristen Finlay.
“It’s a way to celebrate and catalogue what’s happened. They are recollections of team members and how they feel about the place and why they chose to work here.”
Director Anika Plitt and Finlay put out a call for anyone associated with Walterdale to submit recollections. Ten stories were submitted and all were incorporated as a 45-minute play-within-a-play.
Actor/director Katie Elliott from St. Albert Theatre Troupe is working her second production with Walterdale. Last season, she was part of the cast of The Women, a story format about the interchanging lives of women.
In From Cradle to Stage, Elliott’s role is as show director. The set is an open stage in the middle of a tech rehearsal.
“As we run the tech rehearsal, the audience is invited in. You see what happens as we tell the different stories,” says Elliott.
Adding an extra layer of gritty theatrical reality are the contributions of a make-believe stage manager played by Jordan Campion, the production’s real life stage manager.
As the character Margaret, Elliott embodies one of Kristen Finlay’s stories. But unlike the fictional characters the Paul Kane High alumna has personified in the past, Margaret is based on a living woman.
“It’s a bit tricky. I represent someone others may know. You want to represent them in a truthful and honest way.”
Perhaps Walterdale’s greatest achievement is breaking down barriers through its six decades.
As Finlay adds, “This show is for anybody who enjoys theatre. It will give you perspective. It’s part of a world you can connect to and it will give you insights into that world.
“It’s also an invitation for people to come down, take part and volunteer. There’s a long history of people, but there’s always new people with fresh ideas and that’s what we need.”