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Auditions this week for A Christmas Carol and The Gin Game for shows at Blank Space Theatre

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Two auditions are happening on Monday for two different fundraising productions for a new theatre space , the Blank Space theatre on Monday, Sept. 10 at  the new location (1422 2 ave South), one block east of Earls in the former Faith Electronics building.
Auditions for Janet Allard and Michael Bigelow Dixon’s adaption of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” take place Sept. 10 and 11 at 6:15.  and 4 p.m. on Sept. 15.
 The production takes the stage Dec. 1-15 at the Blank Space Theatre, Wednesday through Saturday and possibly the Tuesdays depending on ticket sales.

“ I fell in love with the script as soon as I read it,” said director Juanita DeVos, noting the eight person cast will be playing multiple characters in the play.

“Everyone gets to play Scrooge to reflect his transition, she said, adding the cast requires a boy and a girl between the ages of 10- 14 as well.
“It’s almost word for word the text from the story and it‘s really simple to stage. It’s a liquid stage using lighting to show characters changing,” she said.

 The play will be around an hour -and-a-half long including an intermission with cider, coffee and treats.

“ It will be a great chance for everyone to raise a glass of eggnog to the season and it will be a fundraiser for the space,” DeVos added.

 Auditions are also Sept. 10 for  a Nov. 13-17 and 20-24 Hatrix Theatre production of  D.L. Coburn’s 1977 play “ the Gin Game,” which won a  Pulitzer Prize in 1978.

The cast requires two mature actors to play two seniors who connect in a nursing home over a game of gin rummy. The Broadway hit has starred well known actors like Hume Cromyn and Jessica Tandy; Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore; and James Earl Jones and Cicily Tyson. It was also made into a 2003 movie with Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke.

“It‘s about these two seniors in a seniors home,” summarized director Brian Quinn, adding the first half of the play starts off with a lot  of humour, but it becomes more serious in the second half.
Weller Martin is  a cantankerous,  grouchy man who likes to play  gin rummy and solitaire  on the verandah. He is a little cantankerous and Meets Fiona Dorsey.
“ He teaches her how to play gin rummy and she proceeds to beat him every time. She challenges him and he storms off after the first act,” Quinn continued.
 “Act two gets a little more personal, as they start to get to know each other and we learn about their lives in the past,” he said.

 He noted while more mature actors would be ideal, Katt Panic Makeup. has been recruited to age younger actors if needed.


Windy Castle Medieval Faire packing a lot of fun into one day

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The Windy Castle Medieval Faire returns for one day, July 28. But just because it has been pared down from its two day debut last year to one day, it doesn’t mean there is any less family fun planned at the Coyote Flats Pioneer park near Picture Butte.Juanita and Brent Devos do battle for the Windy Castle medieval Faire.Photos by Richard Amery
“ We had 1,000 people through  on the Saturday last year, if we’d had that many people on the Sunday, we would have been able to pay everybody like we promised,” said organizer Juanita DeVos, noting it was important to be frugal this year and ensure all of the outstanding debts from last year were taken care of  this year without going into further debt.

“A lot of organizations are trimming back or not doing events this year,” DeVos observed, noting they held several fundraisers in the past year to help pay down some of it.
“ But we got such great feedback from people who wanted to see it again. and we got a lot of support from the community of Picture Butte, ” she said, adding she  would live to see the  Windy Castle medieval Faire to not only become an annual event, but a popular tourism destination.

There won’t be jousting this year, but there will still be plenty of fun including costumed characters, three different bouncy castles for all ages, a mead gardens, arrow tag and a round robin tournament of medieval bouts by members of the Lethbridge Medieval Club fighting with swords, axes and hammers, performances by Gymfinity Cirque and aerial arts.

“Arrow tag is a lot of fun. it’s playing tag with arrows, which of course are safe,” she said.
Lothar (Malmberg) the magician and Callum (Lykan)  the Storyteller return this year.


Playgoers of Lethbridge holding auditions for “TIl Beth Do us Part” dinner theatre

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 Playgoers of Lethbridge is looking for a few good men and women for their October Dinner Theatre of  Jamie Wooten, Jessie Jones and Nicholas Hope’s 2010 farce “Til Beth Do us Part.”
 Auditions are at Casa, Tuesday, July 3 and Thursday July 5 from 7-8 p.m.
“They often write together,” said director  Lori Garner, who makes her directorial  debut with Playgoers of Lethbridge with this production.

"Career-driven Suzannah Hayden needs a lot more help on the home front than she's getting from her husband, Gibby. Lately, nurturing his marriage of 27 years hasn't been the highest priority for Gibby, but pretty soon he'll wish it had been. Enter Beth Bailey, Suzannah's newly-hired assistant, a gregarious, highly-motivated daughter of the South. To Suzannah's delight, Beth explodes into the Hayden household and whips it into an organized, well-run machine. This couldn't have happened at a better time for Suzannah, since her boss, Celia Carmichael, the C.E.O. of Carmichael's Chocolates, is flying in soon for an important make-or-break business dinner. Gibby grows increasingly wary as Beth insinuates herself into more and more aspects of their lives. In no time, she exceeds her duties as a household assistant and interjects herself into Suzannah's career. As Suzannah's dependence on Beth grows and Gibby's dislike of the woman deepens, Suzannah gives Beth carte blanche to change anything in the household that ‘will make it run more efficiently.’ And the change Beth makes is convincing Suzannah that Gibby must go. When he realizes it's Suzannah's career Beth is really after, a newly-determined Gibby sets out to save his marriage aided by Suzannah's best friend, Margo, a wisecracking and self-deprecating divorcee and her ex-husband, Hank, who is in the midst of his own mid-life crisis. Their effort to stop Beth at any cost sets up the wildly funny climax in which things go uproariously awry just as Suzannah's boss arrives for that all-important dinner,” according to the official synopsis.

“I’ve been involved with The Raymond Playhouse for 37 years and thought it would be fun to try my hand at directing in Lethbridge,” she said.

 The play requires four women and two men, ideally in their late 40s and 50s.


Shakespeare in the Park takes the Tempest into space with squabbling sisters

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Shakespeare in the Park goes to space with their seventh annual production of The Tempest opening June 28 and running every Thursday and Friday until AChris Peterson and Madeline Smith play battling sisters in Shakespeare in the Park’s Production of the Tempest, opening, June 28 in Galt Gardens. Photo by Richard Ameryug. 1 except Street Wheelers weekend.
 “The Tempest is the most ‘Sci-Fi’ of Shakespeare’s plays. It takes place on a magical, mystical island,” described Shakespeare in the Park artistic director Kate Connolly, adding as a result it was relatively easy to reset the play as a spaceship crashing on an unknown planet instead of a shipwreck on an unknown island.

“It was written near the end of Shakespeare’s life when everybody was fascinated by journeys to the new world so he modeled it off that, particularly the West Indies and the island of Bermuda,” Connolly continued.

“This is Shakespeare meets Star Trek,” she described.
 Shakespeare in the Park veteran DJ Gellatly, who directed Shakespeare in the Park’s version of ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ returns to direct the Tempest.
Shakespeare in the Park has cast traditionally male leads  Prospera and Antonia as females this year, coincidentally mirroring Stratford, Ontario, which is also presenting the Tempest featuring experienced Shakespearian actor Martha Henry playing Prospero in Stratford in London, Ontario this season.

“Instead of battling, brothers, we decided to have battling sisters. We cast Chris Kyle Peterson as Prospera and Madeline Smith as her sister Antonia. She plays an excellent villain,” Connolly said.
“They even look like sisters,” she continued.
“Lot of theatre companies are casting females in more familiar male roles. There have even been female Hamlets,” she said.
Director DJ Gellatly noted turning the leads into females was a no brainer.
“The pool of talented actresses in Lethbridge is really deep. And it’s been done before. There have been female Prosperos before including in the movie starring Hellen Mirren,” he said.

“And we turned Antonio into Antonia, so it’s really interesting because instead of having battling brothers, we have two sisters fighting,” he said.
“It’s something I think about,” said Madeline Smith, who plays Antonia, one role traditionally male role.
“It’s interesting, during Shakespeare‘s time men always played female role, now it has been reversed,” she continued, adding she is enjoying playing a villain.
“I’ve never played a character who is so cold and calculating. I don’t think people are used to seeing a powerful female character who isn’t benevolent,” said Smith, who played Crazy Kate in last summer‘s westernized version of A Comedy of Errors.

“The way I’ve envisioned her is she’s always been overshadowed by her older sister, so the only way to get the respect and attention she deserves is to get her sister out of the way. So there is a lot going on with her outside the play,” she continued, adding the other thing she is looking forward to is getting to use a phaser prop.
Smith noted the prospect of playing the being a villain was just as appealing as playing the Tempest in space.
“I love it. I grew up watching Star Trek. It was groundbreaking then. They had the first inter-racial kiss. It was gender bending and who doesn’t like science fiction,” Smith laughed.
Gellatly, said setting the Tempest in space was another easy choice.

“A lot of the Tempest translates easily to a futuristic theme,” Gellatly said, noting there are a lot of supernatural and fantastic themes in the play.
“So you can easily imagine it on an uninhabited planet with creatures rather than on a deserted island with lots of magic and supernatural deities,“ he said.
“ My dad was a huge Star Trek Next Generation fan, so I grew up with science fiction,” he said.

 Chris Kyle Peterson, who played Mercutio in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Romeo and Juliet two years ago and who plays plotting, protective mother Prospera, is no stranger to gender bending roles, but she returned  because of the prospect of working with Gellatly again, who also directed Romeo and Juliet.
“I was very excited to return because DJ was directing. I think they cast me because I’m the only actual mother in the cast,” she laughed.

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