Thursday, 06 September 2018 13:30

Lyric launching new live theatre initiatives

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The Lyric Theatre in Swift Current has big plans to become a new destination of choice for fans of live theatre.

The organization held a press conference on Aug. 27 to announce details about a new series of plays that will start this fall as well as an outdoor Shakespeare festival in 2019.
Gordon McCall, the Lyric Theatre's artistic director, is excited about these initiatives and the opportunity to expand the theatre's involvement with the performing arts.
He noted that the Lyric Theatre is already an established venue for live music in the city, but currently it only hosts the annual Chautauqua Performing Arts Festival in July.
“We said, OK, this is the Lyric Theatre, let's put more theatre into the mix,” he mentioned. “So we came up with the notion of a series of plays that we are producing.”
This new series of plays is called Sparks in the Dark: Plays to Ignite the Imagination and McCall will direct the first three plays.
The premiere production this September will be Canadian playwright Stephen Massicotte’s popular play Mary’s Wedding, which is set against the backdrop of the First World War.
“It's actually a love story on the prairies,” McCall said. “It's about a young English woman who migrates to Canada with her family, to the prairies, and one day encounters a young farmer. Sparks fly and they fall in love, and the war, as you can imagine, intervenes.”
The Lyric Theatre will present this play in honour of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War in 1918.
“We lost most of a generation of young people to that war,” he said. “ So it's in honour of them. ... I think it's going to make us all proud to be Canadian, as if we're not already, but it just tugs at the heart strings.”
The two main characters in this play will be played by Amy Couzens from Regina and Swift Current's Zac Oliver, who will already be familiar to those who have attended the Swift Current Improvisational Theatre at the Lyric Theatre.
There will be seven performances of Mary's Wedding on Sept. 21, 22, 23, 27, 28 and 30. The evening performances will start at 8 p.m. and the two matinee performances on Sept. 22 and 30 will start at 2 p.m.
The second play in the new Sparks in the Dark series will be Merry Munsch, a Christmas production in December for the entire family. It will be an adaption of stories by popular children’s author Robert Munsch.
It is aimed at children of all ages, but it will be under an hour in length to suit younger audience members. Munsch stories that will be part of this production include Finding Christmas, Paper Bag Princess, Thomas' Snowsuit, Mortimer, and Mud Puddle.
The performances of Merry Munsch will take place on Dec. 14, 15, 20, 21 and 22 (matinee and evening) and Dec. 23 (matinee only). Matinee performances will be at 2 p.m. and evening performances will start at 7 p.m.
The inaugural season of the Sparks in the Dark series will conclude in March when the Lyric Theatre presents the play Motherhood Out Loud, a hilarious, thought-provoking play about mothers.
“Honestly it will tickle your funny bone on the way to your heart,” McCall said. “It is for every mother, they're just going to recognize themselves instantly, and for every father, or uncle or grandfather. They're going to recognize the partnership of bringing up small children, and I'm going to say you're going to have a hard time not laughing throughout the whole thing. and we're going to celebrate again local actors in this production.”
The dates for this play are March 22, 23, 24, 29, 30 and 30. The evening performances start at 8 p.m. and the 2 p.m. matinee performances will take place on March 23, 24 and 31.
Tickets for Mary's Wedding are already available at Pharmasave. Prices are $20 for adults and $17 for students. A Sparks in the Dark series pass for all three plays are available from the Lyric Theatre at a discounted rate of $50.
McCall's professional involvement with theatre includes various roles as an actor, playwright, artistic director, producer and educator. He was the founder or first artistic director of four Canadian professional theatre companies, including the Nightcap Productions Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival in Saskatoon.
He became the Lyric Theatre's artistic director a few months ago and he believes Swift Current will be a good location for a Shakespeare festival.
“I'm very fortunate to have founded the festival in Saskatoon and when we came here, my wife and I, we looked at the community and said this is just perfect for us to have our own Shakespeare festival,” he said. “Obviously I'll draw on that experience, but there is an opportunity here to also bring people off the highway. We've got the TransCanada right here, and if we can contribute to making Swift Current more of a destination point for tourism, it would be a great honour.”
This new outdoor summer festival in Swift Current will be called Shakespeare at Speedy Creek.
“We're calling it Shakespeare at Speedy Creek because we love the irreverence of that and the fun aspect of it,” he said.
Next year's inaugural event is set to coincide with the city's hosting of the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games.
“We're going to open the festival concurrent with the games,” he said. “So it will be a grand time in the city next summer.”
McCall will also be the producer and creative director of the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2019 Western Canada Summer Games. He has previously been the producer of the opening ceremonies for the Canadian Brier Curling Championships and the World Junior Hockey Championships, as well as the co-creator of on-field half-time entertainment for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The inaugural performance at this new festival will be a production of the Shakespearean comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream.
“It is one of the most accessible, fun-filled lovely outdoor experiences and I think everyone will enjoy it,” he said. “I will be casting as much local as we can, because part of this is going to be an educational experience. We want to hook up with the schools, we want to do all sorts of things in terms of bringing the kids to this.”
The Lyric Theatre will be partnering with the City of Swift Current to find a suitable location for the large outdoor tent that will be used for this event. A partnership with the Art Gallery of Swift Current will help to make the festival an artistic experience.
“We'll be doing our utmost to have you really enjoy the overall experience,” he said. “So self expression and creativity will be a big part of that experience for everyone and there will be lots of hands-on, interactive things that we're going to try to set up on the site.”

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Matthew Liebenberg


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