My eyes are closed, my smile wide and tears are streaming down my face. The final speech has ended and the lights are fading slowly to black. For the past two hours, I have been transported to another world and almost unwillingly I return to this one, as the cast takes a final curtain call to a standing ovation. How I love live theatre!
Alberta’s theatre scene is unique and varied, from up-and-coming to critically acclaimed, off-Broadway to Shakespeare, intimate to million-dollar productions. So take a little break from reality and lose yourself in the magical world of the theatre.
Alberta’s Historic Theatres
Music, film, theatre and a whole lot of history are on the playbill at Camrose’s Bailey Theatre, Alberta’s oldest performing arts venue. Extensive renovations were completed in 2011, just in time to celebrate the theatre’s centennial. Today, the Bailey welcomes a mix of live theatre, travelling road shows and musicals, local bands and solo artists, film festivals, and special events, including a beer festival.
Believe in ghosts? If not, Ed, the resident ghost at Fort Macleod’s Empress Theatre, might make an appearance to change your mind. An Alberta Historic Resource, which still has its original seats and hardwood floors, the Empress personifies trendy with musical acts, film screenings, an international festival, live theatre, improv camps for kids and a host of arts education programs.
Your night out in the city is calling. Theatre Calgary offers award-winning productions, classical and contemporary.
Discover rising stars and new playwrights. Alberta Theatre Projects in the intimate Martha Cohen Theatre in Calgary, has produced more than 220 plays and is home to the famed playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays.
Emerging talent comes to Calgary’s One Yellow Rabbit, for its High Performance Rodeo and Summer Lab Intensive.
Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre has produced an impressive list of plays including many originating on Broadway or in London’s West End. Another busy venue is the Varscona Theatre, located in the heart of the historic Old Strathcona district. As well as one of the primary hosts of the famed International Fringe Festival, it features live professional theatre all year long, courtesy of a number of fabulously diverse companies who share the space.
Shakespeare in the Park
Spend a midsummer’s night at Edmonton’s Freewill Shakespeare Festival at Hawrelak Park’s Heritage Amphitheatre, under a gorgeous tent, or come to Calgary’s Prince’s Island Park for Shakespeare by the Bow, produced by Theatre Calgary. Both run throughout the summer for audiences of all ages. Many performances are made available by “pay what you can” donations.
Badlands and Hamlets, Uniquely Albertan
A must-see is the Canadian Badlands Passion Play, a dramatic portrayal of the life of Jesus performed in a spectacular natural amphitheatre just outside Drumheller. The play, which runs in July for nine dates only is produced by Alberta’s only professional rural theatre company, the Rosebud Theatre, which hosts a regular season of live dinner theatre, comedy and concerts.