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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. Jane and her sister-in-law persuade Andrew to keep up appearances by hiding evidence, which involves trundling around with bodies in wheelbarrows. Geoff is nearly convinced that he is mistaken, unaware that one of the bodies has been mistakenly stowed in the trunk of his parents' car,” is how the play is described by Samuel French.


“It isn’t a dark comedy, but it is  a British comedy. And I am a big fan of British comedies,” she said.


The play requires eight actors — four male and four female  ranging in age from 20 and up.
“ So they can be in their mid 20s, 30s and 40 all the way up to parental age of 60s,” she said.
She hopes to cast the play quickly and begin rehearsals in December, taking a break over Christmas and resuming in the new year.
 Volunteers are also needed to help in a variety of other behind the scenes capacities including backstage, stage building, costumes, props and production.
Auditions are at 7 p.m. , Nov. 28 and 29 at Casa.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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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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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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Hatrix brings 12 Angry Jurors to the stage

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 The more Hatrix the merrier.Clive Abbott and Carrie-Ann Worden are excited to be back with Hatrix theatre as Juror 4 in 12 angry Jurors, running Nov. 15-18 at the Nord Bridge Senior’s Centre. Photo by Richard Amery


 While one arm of the local theatre company are blowing your mind with Little Shop of Horrors at the Moose Hall, the other arm is doing something a little different — a drama, 12 Angry Jurors— which is a departure from the cornucopia of comedies, farces and musicals usually happening in Lethbridge. It takes place at the Nord Bridge Seniors Centre, Nov. 15-18.


“It’s an older script by Reginald Rose, which is totally still relevant today,” observed director Karolyn Harker.


 In addition to being the timeless story of 12 people from different socio-economic backgrounds, who must decide on the guilt or innocent of a boy accused of stabbing his father to death, the larger cast gives more people an opportunity to be involved with Hatrix.


“It takes place in a larger city, which we‘ve decided is Chicago. The 12 jurors come from different societal backgrounds and cultural backgrounds and they must decide on the fate of a young maShelly David addresses the jury during 12 Angry Jurors rehearsals. Photo by Richard Ameryn accused of murdering his father, but the characters reveal their prejudices and backgrounds and their anger,” Harker described, noting the dialogue heavy production means all of the actors are on the stage for the whole show. As the audience never sees the actual trial, the jurors present the evidence.


 Some people might know the play from the 1957 movie “12 Angry Men” starring Oscar award winners Henry Fonda, Martin Balsam and Ed Begley, though most of the cast had not seen the film, preferring to create their own back stories for their characters, as the dialogue leaves a lot of room for character development. The audience doesn’t even learn their names or the names of the victim or perpetrator, which is all left up to their imaginations.
“It was a teleplay first and then turned into a movie. It reminds me of Thornton Wilder, who is my favourite playwright,” Harker said.


The play shares some of the dialogue of the movie, but has also been turned into a co-ed production.
 The production features some familiar faces from Hatrix Theatre’s Fall 2016 production of “The Game’s Afoot: Holmes for the Holidays,” including Carrie-Ann Worden who plays Juror Number four, stepping in after a couple previous Juror number fours were unable to participate due to family issues.

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