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Blank Space opens for local performers with A Gin Game as first show

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To paraphrase the opening of the’80s TV show the A Team “If you’re an dramatic group, dance troupe, musician or an artist and have no place to perform rehearse or display your work, maybe you can hire — the Blank Space (located at Unit 3 1416 2 Ave S).Vicki Gibson and Dave Ranson perform a  scene from the Gin Game at the Blank Space opening gala, Nov. 1. Photo by Richard Amery
The new artistic venue opened its doors, Nov. 1 with live music and a scene from their first production of Hatrix Theatre’s upcoming presentation of the The Gin Game, Nov. 13-18 and Nov. 20-24.
 The 1976 Donald L Coburn penned Pulitzer prize winning production, which won the 1978 Pulitzer for drama, stars two experienced actors Vicki Gibson and Dave Ranson.
“It’s a two hander, so it’s two people on stage for two acts,” described director Brian Quinn.
“I did it once before in 1981 or 82. I wanted to do it again because it is a good play, a funny play and  it’s even more relevant now to  me as a baby boomer and a lot of people of the baby boomer age,” Quinn described.


“It’s about two people, Weller Martin and Fonsia Dorsey who meet in a nursing home and talk about their lives before and at the nursing home, it‘s a very funny play. it‘s very well written and witty too, he said, adding he had trouble casting actors for the parts.
“The first time I did it , I had to age my actors who were in their late 20s and early 30s, with latex and makeup. We’ll have to age these actors a little,” he said adding the play requires a lot from the actors, if only because of the number of lines to remember.


“In community theatre, they have to balance work and finding time to learn lines. I’ve had actors who read lines in the bath tub because that’s the only time they have to do it or else right before bed. They have to create the characters on top of that,” he said.
 They have both been involved in other Hatrix  productions as Ranson was also in Little Shop of Horrors and several LMT shows. Gibson was in 12 Angry Jurors and was in Les Miserables.
“It’s reflective of what happens as people age,” he noted, the two irascible seniors end up bonding over the game of gin rummy.


 Quinn has been looking for a space like  the Blank Space for several years, as, like many local groups, finding places to perform and rehearse can be a challenge, not to mention expensive.
“But it isn’t just a Hatrix space, it is for any group  who want to use the space,” noted Quinn, who started really looking for a space after  overcoming the the challenges of  trying to stage Spamalot at the Yates in 2014 as they had to work around other organizations and schools who had priority  at the Yates like Lethbridge Musical Theatre.


 Finding a space became all the more important as a long standing relationship with the Moose Hall deteriorated at the end of last year.
 So Vittorio Oliverio and  his investors group  found the old Faith Electronics Building.
“As soon as I saw it I saw the potential of it,” Quinn said.

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University of Lethbridge play ‘She Kills Monsters’ explores D & D as bonding

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Dungeons and Dragons is an adventure into your imagination, but it can be much more than that in The University of Lethbridge main stage production of Qui Nguyen’s “She Kills Monsters,” which runs Nov. 6-10 in the University Theatre.Kayla Turnbull, Katie Boyes and Rachel Cucheron are excited about the U of L's new play She Kills Monsters. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s the story of an older sister  who bonds with her younger sister through playing Dungeons & Dragons,” said director Lindsay Zess, who graduated from the University of Lethbridge in 2007 and returned to direct the play, in part because she has a personal subject matter.


 The play is described as a comedic romp into the world of fantasy role-playing games,“She Kills Monsters” is the story of Agnes Evans as she leaves her childhood home in Ohio following the death of her teenage sister, Tilly. When Agnes finds Tilly's Dungeons & Dragons notebook, however, she stumbles into a journey of discovery and action-packed adventure in the imaginary world that was Tilly's refuge.


“It’s really personal story to me because I played D & D to get closer to my brother when he got sick,” Zess said, adding you don’t have to know anything about Dungeons and Dragons to enjoy the story. So she leaped at the chance to direct the play.


The 10 member cast have been rehearsing the play since Oct, 1, but  have been learning fight choreography since September.
‘There is a lot of choreography,” said Katie Boyes, who plays Tilly and a Paladin in the play.


“She’s a human girl who plays Dungeons & Dragons. He can do magic and heal and a fighter,” she said.
Some of the cast members got involved with the project as part of a course requirement, other joined because it sounded like a lot of fun ti do.
“It sounded like a lot of fun to do,” Boyes said.

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Learn about Blank Space at opening gala

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There is a new theatre space in town. Members of the local theatre community  and  investor’s group  spearheaded by  Vittorio Oliverio have been working  hard to open the Blank Space theatre for the Nov. 1 opening gala.Gabe Thaine plays  the Blank Space gand opening gala , Nov. 1. photo by Richard Amery
 “Blank Space,   (located at Unit 3 1416 2 Ave S) is exactly what it sounds like— it’s a blank space available to local theatre groups, arts groups and artists who need a place to rehearse and perform in,” said  Blank Space  board member Karolyn Harker, who is  organizing the gala.
 There will be a 50 50 draw and a silent auction and live entertainment.
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Theatre Outré opens season with object theatre presentation of Sapientia

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Theatre Outré opens their season with Sapientia, Oct. 30-Nov. 3 at Club Didi.
“It’s perfect for Halloween,” said producer Jay Whitehead who performs in the play, written in the tenth century by Roswitha of Gandersheim.Jordan Payne and Jay Whitehead perform in Theatre Outré’s production of Sapientia at Club Didi, Oct. 30-Nov.3. photo by Richard Amery
 Director Mia Van Leeuwen uses object theatre to tell the story of a woman who goes to Rome, preaching Christianity with her three daughters.


“The Emperor Hadrian tells her to stop, but she doesn’t so they torture and kill her daughters,” said Van Leeuwen, noting she has done the show in Edmonton in 2014, Winnipeg in 2015 and in Montreal this past summer.


She noted the objects she used in the performances have  changed over the course of the performances.
“If you were to do this in a film or in stage form, it would be something like Game of Thrones,” said Theatre Outré producer Jay Whitehead, who plays Hadrian. So while actors Whitehead, Jordan Payne, Kathy Zaborsky and Erica Barr perform the lines,  a mirror, espresso maker, flashlight and tea cups are the actual characters.
“ It‘s like puppetry, except we make no secret of the fact that the actors are manipulating the puppets,” Whitehead said.
“It’s very dark, but we’ve also found a lot of humour in it,” he continued.


“ But because we’re using objects, it makes the subject matter a little more palatable,” Whitehead said.
“ But it’s still very disturbing,” he added.


“It deals with religious extremism, ” said Van Leeuwen, noting the subject matter has become even more relevant today.
“I can’t imagine martyring a daughter or dying for a cause,” she said, adding she brought the play to fellow U of L drama prof Whitehead for consideration for Theatre Outré because she like the theme, the idea of doing it as object theatre and letting people know about the playwright who is the first known female playwright.

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