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Playgoers of Lethbridge holding auditions for British Comedy “ Beyond a Joke”

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If you are looking to meet some interesting  people and enjoy a fun winter project, Playgoers of Lethbridge is holding auditions for their winter production of  Derek Benfield‘s 1980 British comedy, “Beyond a Joke.”
Auditions for the play are Nov. 28 and 29 at 7 p.m. at Casa.  Because the Yates Centre  is closed for renovations, Playgoers of Lethbridge has decided to do a dinner theatre at the Italian Canadian Club, Feb. 6-10.
 Director Elaine Jagielski is revisiting the play, which Playgoers of Lethbridge performed around 15 years ago.
“It’s about a couple who live in a house where unfortunate things keep happening. People  are dying. When their daughter’s boyfriend Geoff  comes in, he suspects they are murders,” said Jagielski, noting the play is a comedy.


“Jane and Andrew's pleasant country house is accident prone. Six people have already died there in unfortunate and embarrassing accidents. When daughter Sally's young man Geoff arrives for the weekend unaware of the house's reputation, he mistakenly deduces from conversational confusion that the deaths were due to sinister circumstances. A body is discovered in the cupboard and a visiting vicar passes peacefully away in the garden just as Geoff's parents call unexpectedly.

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The Debaters to discuss Alberta and Christmas in Lethbridge

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Three Canadian comedians debate the most important issues of the day—  ‘Is Alberta The Greatest Province in the Country’ and ‘Which is Better? Fake Christmas Trees or real Christmas Trees.’Steve Patterson hosts the Debaters in Lethbridge this week. Photo submitted
 As comedian Scott Patterson brings The Debaters to the Enmax Centre, Nov. 24.


 Patterson, host of the popular CBC radio show, the Debaters will be joined by Albertan raised comedians and actors Howie Miller and Ryan Belleville.
Patterson noted the tour includes comedians from the provinces they are touring in to ensure the show is tailored to the audience.


“One of our comedians is an Albertan, and the other is from Calgary, but moved to Toronto,” said Patterson, from “lovely Trail B.C.” He has worked with the comedians many times before.
 Patterson noted each comedian performs an individual stand-up comedy set, then will engage in the two debates.


“They get a month to prepare for the debate. Even I don’t get to see what they came up with until the show so I can have a genuine reaction,” Patterson said, adding the live performance runs  the same way and ends up being an extended version of the broadcast, though this show won’t be broadcasted.


“Comedy isn’t like  music in that people don’t tune in to hear their favourite jokes.  So every show is a really unique experience,” he said, noting  there are only three Alberta dates— Red Deer,  and Banff in addition to Lethbridge.


“So we‘ll probably do the ‘Is Alberta the best province’ debate at all of them and we might  do the Christmas Trees debate,” he said.

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New West Theatre and Theatre Outré explore the lighter side of death with Vigil

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New West Theatre has a busy month with three productions taking place all over the city in the next two months.

Erica Hunt and Jay Whitehead star in New West Theatre/ Theatre Outré’s production of  Vigil, Nov. 18-25 at the Trianon Gallery. Photo By Richard Amery
 First up is a “dark comedy with heart,” as New West Theatre  and Theatre Outré bring Calgary playwright Morris Panych’s “ Vigil” to life at the Trianon (104 5th Street South), Nov. 15-25.
“It’s a bucket list role for Jay. And Erica gets to play the old woman we all know and love,” observed director Kathy Zaborsky, who has worked with cast members Jay Whitehead and Erica Hunt with both Theatre Outré and New West Theatre productions.


“It’s my first time directing a straight  ahead play rather than a musical comedy revue,” Zaborsky said.


“Vigil is a classic Canadian play, It has been produced all over the place over the past 20 years,” she said.


 Vigil is about a young man who comes to visit his dying aunt in her attic, but the visit lasts a lot longer than he expected to because she continues to survive.


“ It’s a dark comedy about caregiving for an elderly relative. So anybody who has ever been a caregiver will be able to identify with it,” she continued.


“This play has a lot of comedy, but it also has a lot of heart,” she added.
 “I absolutely love this play,” she said.
Jay Whitehead, who plays the young man, Kemp, is enjoying being part of the production.

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U of L celebrates 50 years with “Nothing Left to Burn”

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Then University of Lethbridge drama department decided to help celebrate the university’s fiftieth birthday by commissioning a play — a cautionary tale from Vancouver/ Ottawa based playwright/ actor Sean Devine.Sharayah Paulson and Braedan Pettigrew rehearse a scene from When There’s nothing Left to burn on stage at the University Theatre, Nov. 7-11. Photo by Richard Amery
“When There’s Nothing Left To Burn” won the U of L’s Fiction at Fifty play writing competition out of more than 75 entries. It will be on stage at the University Theatre, Nov. 7-11.
 Playwright/ actor Sean Devine, who is on the hit TV show the Disappearance, was excited to work with the faculty, staff and students of the University of Lethbridge, to bring his one page proposal to life.


“The play has evolved quite a lot. When I first started it, it was a one page proposal,” observed Devine from Ottawa taking a break from his day job with the Canadian Arts Council.

He visited the University of Lethbridge to workshop the play and get it ready for stage with the help of the students and staff of the university and director Gail Hanrahan. He noted this process is how most plays get to the stage today.


“I always need a little feedback from a lot of different people. it was very interesting having these conversations with the staff and students. University students don’t often get the opportunity to have that kind of workshopping experience,” he said, noting this will be the fourth play he has had staged since he started writing professionally in 2011.
“I wrote a lot of plays in my 20s that never saw the light of day,” he said.


He noted he enjoyed several things about working on this play.
“Number one, as a playwright, it is rare to write for a larger cast of 10 or 12 performers because usually you can’t have that many due to budgetary constraints. It was also exciting to write for a younger cast, because usually you are writing for people in their mid 20s and early 30s,” he observed.


“And universities usually don’t usually do political plays,” he said.
He said he was inspired to write the script  four or five years ago by the invasion of Kiev in the Ukraine.
 “And then Russia invaded Crimea,” he continued.


“It’s about two sides of a city in the midst of a political rebellion. One side is a members of a political regime and the other side is opposing it,” he said, noting the play is a snapshot of some of the many individuals involved with all sides of the situation, including media personalities, political candidates, singers and more.


 Devine has two other plays in production — “Daisy,” which is being produced in Houston, Texas and “Re:Union” which was done in October by the Yale Cabaret at Yale University.


The cast has been working on the play since April, which was originally supposed to take place in Europe, but evolved to take place in an anonymous North American city.
“I’ve enjoyed working with Sean who helped us flush it out,” said actor Braedan Pettigrew who plays the candidate and several other characters.
“When we started it was version 5.0, now it’s version 7.5,” said Sharayah Paulson, who among her many characters, plays the Interviewer.

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