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Shakespeare in the Park begins run of the Scottish play in Galt Gardens this week

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There will be villainy afoot, sword play, deception, superstition and treachery as Shakespeare in the Park celebrates their eighth year by presenting “ the Scottish play” this summer in Galt Gardens.
 “Macbeth” opens Thursday, July 4 and runs until Aug. 9 pretty much every Thursday and Friday in Galt Gardens except July 12 during Street Wheelers weekend when the local Shakespeare troupe hits the road for a performance at the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod, July 12. They also return to Nanton at the Coutts Centre, July 21, and, new for the troupe,  are in High River at Town Centre, July 27.Macbeth (DJ Gellatly) battles young Siward (Chelsey Fitzsimons) in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Macbeth, running July 4-Aug. 9 in Galt Gardens. photo by Richard Amery
“ That will be a busy week for us,” said producer Kate Connolly, who is delighted director Monique Danielle has set Macbeth will be set in the eleventh century.

“It’s a very traditional version. It is the period Shakespeare drew from to write the play and when the actual Lord Macbeth lived,” Connolly continued, noting it is a departure from forays into the future with last year’s interplanetary space themed Tempest and the recent past of A Comedy of Errors which was set in nineteenth century Alberta.
“It’s going to be very exciting,” she said the cast have undergone extensive fight training to ensure  fight, murder and  duels are as realistic looking as possible while also being safe  as possible .
“We are lucky to have two really talented fight choreographers Garrett Mallory Scott who choreographed all of the fights and he appointed Keith Miller as fight captain, who also plays MacDuff,” she said.

“ It’s set amongst the gloomy castles and haunted heaths of Scotland where Macbeth meets the three witches, It depicts the raw brutality of the age. It’s very exciting. But it’s appropriate for all ages. there’s blood and gore, but no adult language or suggestive scenes,” Connolly advised.

 She noted Shakespeare and  the Park has received generous assistance from a variety of sponsors including Young Insurance,  a Heart of the City Activity grant and Jaded Body Arts as well as  the Allied Arts Council.
The cast features some Shakespeare in the Park veterans as well and several newcomers playing some of Shakespeare’s most iconic roles.

 DJ Gellatly is excited to return to the fold as Macbeth. He has performed in three Shakespeare in the Park productions and directed two others.

He is honoured to play Macbeth.
“A lot of very talented men have played Macbeth, so it really is fun to step into those shoes. It really is an honour,” Gellatly said, noting Macbeth starts out an honourable man, but is seduced by power inspired by the three witches and slowly descends into violence and madness.
“It is very relatable the way Macbeth is seduced by power. Banquo starts out as his companion and friend, but Macbeth really goes to some really dark places inspired by that greed and desire for power,” GellatlDJ Gellatly plays Macbeth in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Macbeth, running July 4-Aug. 9 in Galt Gardens. photo by Richard Ameryy said.

“So it has been really interesting to go there,” he said.
“I hope the audience comes away from the show being entertained,” he said, adding he has been enjoying the sword fighting battles.

Director Monique Danielle returns home to Lethbridge from Toronto, where she has been studying and acting, to direct Macbeth.
 She is excited to set the play in the eleventh century.
“ The board wanted to do a traditional Shakespeare play and Macbeth has always been one of my favourite plays. So I just love that it is set in the eleventh century which is where Shakespeare drew his inspiration from. It’s just such a cool time period,” she said, adding she wanted to bring out the themes of masculinity and gender roles, parenthood and power in the play. She also wanted to explore the theme of  feminine power with Lady Macbeth and the three witches.
“Lady Macbeth is a powerful female character,  she questions Macbeth’s masculinity, but she gives up her femininity for more masculine traits to get power,” she said.
“So I wanted to explore some of those themes,” she said, adding the witches exemplify the female empowerment theme.
“ I was interested in their motivation. So I’ve turned them into Greek fates who are angry about being forgotten as  people were turning to worship God and Christianity, so I wanted to play with that idea of female rage,” Danielle said.

 The three witches are all new to Shakespeare in the Park.
 Megan Fennell, who plays Clotho (witch 2) said she was dared into auditioning by her friend.
“I’ve been trying to do things that scare me this year like petting a snake and singing karaoke for the first time. So my friend dared me to audition,” said Fennell, who is also a dancer, a Taiko drummer, a science fiction author and an artist who is also an artist.


Pridefest welcomes “Where The Two Spirit Lives” to Club Didi

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Pridefest and Theatre Outré are collaborating on a cornerstone performance  by Southern Albertan actor Marshall Vielle about the challenges growing up as a two spirited individual in Southern Alberta.

Marshall Vielle performs Where the Two Spirit lives at Club Didi, June 14-18. Photo by Richard Amery
“Where the Two Spirit Lives” runs  June 14-18 at Club Didi at 8 p.m. each night throughout Pridefest.

“It’s important to tell stories like this,” said Theatre Outré artistic director Jay Whitehead, noting it is an ideal show for Pridefest, as it explores important issues of gender identity and indigenous people]s issues through storytelling and drag, so they were excited  to collaborate with Vielle on the show, as Club Didi was where he first started performing in drag shows.

 “It is all the more important today when gay rights are being taken back. It’s very funny and entertaining, but it is also serious. Marshall explores three different characters,” Whitehead said.

Vielle noted the show evolved out of his final  project for his BFA, at the University of Lethbridge. He is excited to finally bring it to stage for it’s debut at Club Didi after two years of hard work.

“I didn’t really get into drag until I was in my third or fourth year of university. But I was really determined,” Vielle said.
“It’s a very personal story about growing up  as a two  spirited person in Southern Alberta and all of the challenges I faced,” said Vielle, noting he grew up on the Blood Reserve. Vielle started off  by making a playlist of  all of the songs  that influenced him as a drag performer and built the show around that.


Playgoers of Lethbridge holding auditions for Exit Laughing

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Playgoers of Lethbridge want you to “Exit Laughing,” in October.
 They are holding auditions for their Oct. 22-26 production of  Paul Elliott’s comedy “Exit Laughing,” June 26 and 27 in the Casa Meeting room from 7-9 p.m.
Director Linda Johnson is keeping her cards close to her chest about what the play is about.
“I don't want to give away too much info about the play other than: "When the biggest highlight in your life for the past 30 years has been your weekly bridge night out with the girls, what do you do when one of your foursome inconveniently dies,” she described in an e-mail.

Elliott’s new comedy “ Exit Laughing completed its developmental staging with the Reunion Theatre Group outside of Seattle  to rave reviews, then won the 2013 AACTfest with a record-breaking premiere  at the Springfield Little Theatre ‘s historic Landers Theater.  

By the end of its premiere run, Exit Laughing had broken a 50-year record for the amount of money raised and tickets sold and packed houses every night with standing room only.

 The cast requires three women in their late ’50s to ’60 to play the three southern ladies from Birmingham, Alabama , Connie, Leona and Millie who borrow the ashes of their recently deceased friend from the funeral home for one last card game and the most exciting night of their life begins as hilarity ensues involving a police raid,  a stripper and much more.
 The play also requires one woman in her early ’20s and a man in his 20s.
 They also need a producer and production staff
No preparation required.

The show runs in Country Kitchen, Oct. 22-26. Johnson hopes to begin rehearsals in mid-July.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Local actor bringing “A Pink Unicorn” to SAAG for Pridefest

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Pridefest is coming up and Ashley Thomson is excited to return home to Lethbridge to kick it off with her one woman production of Elise Forier Edie’s 2011 play the Pink Unicorn, June 9 at 3 p.m. at  SAAG.Ashley Thomson prerforms A Pink Unicorn at SAAG for Pridefest, June 9. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s a really beautiful story about a conservative Christian mother who learns her daughter comes out as transgendered, ” said Thomson, who is a veteran of many a New West Theatre Christmas show and several University of Lethbridge performances and played Puck in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“It’s a beautiful story as she questions her religion and her spirituality and he family. She tells the story from a lot of different character’s points of view, but there is no costume changes,” she continued.

“ But it really is about love and acceptance. It takes place in a fictional Texas town, so it is fun to play with a Texas accent,” she said.

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