June 20th, 2024

‘Shakespeare Meets Dickens’ in fundraiser tonight at Casa

By Cal Braid - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 21, 2022.

Herald photo by Ry Clarke Jesse Thibert, Cole Fetting, and Zoe David reenact a scene from Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" as part of the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society's annual fundraiser set for this evening at Casa.

Shakespeare Meets Dickens, an annual fundraiser for the Lethbridge Shakespeare Performance Society (LSPS), is set for this evening at 7 p.m. at Casa.

Kate Connolly, president of the LSPS and producer for Shakespeare in the Park and Shakespeare Meets Dickens, calls it “a very enjoyable relaxing event to launch yourselves into Christmas proper. It’s a good way to relax a few days before the mad rush.”

“This is a pre-Christmas fundraiser that we started five years ago. It involves a performance of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, like a reader’s theatre version of that, along with communal carols sung with the audience. The second half is a selection of songs by some of our brilliant singers, and will also have in it two scenes from Shakespeare. So, all the songs are either Christmas/winter related, or they might have some Shakespeare connection. Our wonderful musical director is Jillian Bracken, and she’s been practicing with the singers with this piano here. On the night itself she will be playing on the conservatory’s grand piano, which has a beautiful tone.”

The community room at Casa will be set up with tables of eight to a capacity of 120. Connolly said that the first part of the night will feature seven actors and the second half eight singers. Formal dress is not required, but, “We encourage all our audiences to come along with some hint of a costume or other. Either Tudor-ish or Victorian. It could be just a hat or a big scarf. We also have a whole range of Christmas treats; gingerbread, mince pies, shortbread, hot cider, eggnog, and our famous candy counter. We do have some gluten-free treats as well for people, but I’m afraid if you’re looking for low-calorie options, I don’t think there will be many of those.”

The LSPS has stayed afloat on donations and grants.

“We have a very generous donor in the private sector that quietly helps, and that’s Young Insurance Agency. They’ve been very helpful to us over the years. And we have smaller donations from businesses and individuals. Then the third slice of our funding comes from audience donations,” Connolly said. “When we perform in Galt Gardens or any other park, we’re not permitted to sell tickets. We just pass the hat around at the end. We operate on a shoestring. The major cost for our productions is the honoraria we give out to all our actors and crew at the end of the season.” She said that the $1000 dollars they receive is minor for all the work that they put into it.

Shakespeare in the Park has been running for 11 years. Connolly said, “In 2011, we got our society status and off we went. We’ve been managing to do Shakespeare in the Park every single year since, even with COVID. I think that we were the only theatre group in the whole of southern Alberta that was able to put on an actual live production in front of a live audience.” In the first year of the pandemic, the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden asked Connolly if the performance society could still do some shows for them. They pulled it off by limiting audience members to 75 and keeping the actors six feet apart.

“We’re back to our normal 17 to 18 shows per summer which is quite a lot. We do the majority of them downtown, so this year we did half of them here at Casa and the other half at our old home where we started out, Galt Gardens.”

For 2023, Connolly said the LSPS is preparing performances of The Taming of the Shrew.

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