Welcoming change

Local theatre company gearing up for whirlwind season

By Hanna Fridhed, Connect Contributor

Michelle Thorne and theatre artist Jennifer Townsend during a staged reading last season at SECPA. Photo by Hanna Fridhed, Connect Weekly

Michelle Thorne and theatre artist Jennifer Townsend during a staged reading last season at SECPA. Photo by Hanna Fridhed, Connect Weekly

The newest addition to the Fort McMurray theatre scene, Theatre; Just Because, is greeting the upcoming season with enthusiasm as well as a jam-packed schedule. Theatre; Just Because is a community driven, locally grown and operated independent theatre company here in Fort McMurray.

They were established by two local theatre artists, art entrepreneurs and long-time friends Danna Rae Evasiuk and Michelle Thorne. Using local mentors and offering affordable workshops, they wish for more community members to get involved in theatre arts and educate the participants on a grass roots level.

During the summer, the new theatre company faced some large scale challenges, including co-founder and main designer and technician Danna Rae Evasiuk relocating to London, England.

Remaining co-founder Michelle Thorne explains that “Many smaller theatre companies in the past have collapsed after core members have left town” but that the company works with the clear goal of “expansion, succession management, and branching out further in the community. Welcoming change.”

This season will include a new theatre venture, a junior high play production series: The Fantastic Mr. Fox by Rohl Dahl. The series were created after feedback from last season where a clear gap in the local theatre community for this age group became apparent.

“I am super excited for The Fantastic Mr. Fox,” exclaimed Thorne. “It’s a great story, I love working with youth, and I can’t wait to collaborate with other artists.”

The Fantastic Mr. Fox will be a multi-disciplinary production experience, where the young artists will be experiencing a wide variety of art forms, including creating their own character masks, lighting design, learning how to move like forest animals, creating musical soundscapes and learning about stage management and improv skills. All of these techniques will be taught by skilled local artists.

Theatre; Just Because will also return to their collaborative dinner theatre fundraiser with Waypoints. Last year, they had incredible success with their production of Fanny and Manny Tie the Knot with two completely sold-out performances and ravishing reviews.

“We are thrilled to be following up with The Awesome 80’s Prom,” said Thorne. “It’s a hilarious comedy set at a 1980s high school prom.”

During the upcoming Alberta Culture Days, a three-day province-wide event created to recognize the value of Alberta’s arts and cultural communities, Theatre; Just Because have several events planned.

These include a screening of the National Theatre’s presentation of Hamlet starring Benedict Cumberbatch (with a live Shakespearian pre-show performance), an auditioning workshop for youth and a live staged play reading of Joan MacLeod’s The Hope Slide.

The future for the new theatre company looks bright.

“We are seeing confidence rise in our participants,” added Thorne. “Each time they come out to a play reading or workshop or event they become more connected to the community we have helped create with Theatre; Just Because.”

If you or your child is in Grade 7, 8, or 9 and interested in registering for The Fantastic Mr. Fox play production series, or you are interested in staying up-to-date with our programming and events, visit www.theatrejustbecause.com.

– Connect Weekly –