June 16th, 2024

Theatre Outré back on stage this fall

By Al Beeber on August 26, 2021.

Anastasia Siceac is seen in the Theatre Outré production of "Confessional." Theatre Outré photo by Jaime Vedres

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

After being shut down for the last year and a half because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Theatre Outré is ready to open its doors again at Didi’s Playhaus.
Theatre Outré, which calls itself “southern Alberta’s only queer theatre company,” will be staging three productions this season, the first starting Sept. 28, co-artistic director Jay Whitehead said on Wednesday.
All three plays have been written by or adapted by southern Alberta artists, said Whitehead.
“We’re excited,” said Whitehead, who wrote one of the plays and is co-writer of another with Kathy Zaborsky.
The third play is an adaptation by Nicola Elson of a children’s book written by Harvey Fierstein.
The new season opens with “333,” a historical drama written by Whitehead focusing on the 1981 Toronto bathhouse raids.
“I felt it was important to tell this story,” says Whitehead in a press release. “It was a dark chapter of queer history in Canada and is one that is often overlooked. In this day and age when we are fortunate to have pride parades and centres and clubs at our academic institutions, it is important to look back at just how far we have come.”
It will feature actors from various parts of Canada including Halifax, Edmonton and Lethbridge. Zaborsky will be making her directorial debut with Theatre Outré since being named co-artistic director last year.
“333” will run Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 with tickets going on sale at http://www.theatreoutre.ca. The theatre is located downtown at #207 517a 4 Avenue South in the McFarland Building.
“We really wanted to do something that was local, that would celebrate the Lethbridge arts community and kind of showcase what we have here in town,” Whitehead told The Herald.
“We’ve had over a year-and-a-half to think about what we wanted to do so for the past six months is kind of when things were solidifying and we decided to do these three particular homegrown shows,” he said.
“I think people are really excited. It’s been a long time coming and people are ready, I think, to go out and see some arts again,” said Whitehead who finished his undergrad degree at the University of Lethbridge and worked with New West Theatre before heading to grad school in Toronto. After coming back to the city in 2007, he started to create his own work with Theatre Outré.
“I think when people hear about Lethbridge they don’t really consider that a place where queer theatre would thrive but we actually have been able to do (it) and I think each season we get more and more word of mouth and more and more people are hearing about us and it just keeps growing and growing which is very exciting for a place like this,” said Whitehead.
“All the shows are written or derived, adapted by local artists. So that was kind of important to us.”
Whitehead said audience numbers will be restricted to 30 for each performance although the venue can hold 60 people. Audience members will be screened at the door with questions to ensure they are healthy, said Whitehead, and will be seated in socially-distanced fashion.
“The masking, we’re currently debating what that’s going to look like but for now we’re asking all of our audience members to show up in a mask. They’ll be put through some screening questions just to monitor everyone’s health and then we’re hoping once people are seated and socially distanced as much as possible within the space, they can remove their masks and enjoy the show. We’re following the guidelines and as things shift on a daily basis, we’re keeping an eye on that and making sure we’re doing our due diligence and keeping everyone as safe as possible while still being able to enjoy the arts.”

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