Nakaiad (talk) 04:23, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Workshop West Theatre

Workshop West Theatre is a professional theatre company based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada founded in 1978 that is noted for producing Canadian theatre and developing new Canadian plays and playwrights. [1] The company's production history includes plays developed and produced at other Canadian theatres and original new works. Workshop West has produced and presented over 100 original production in its main stage season. The theatre's programming has diversified into other ancillary work. The Springboards New Play Festival, a reading series, was first produced in 1995. It began to produce a festival and . Since 2003, its has primarily presented its own original productions of plays in a small French court-style theatre with black box qualities, located in La Cité Francophone, Edmonton's French cultural centre. [2] In recent years its main stage season has premiered almost entirely original plays by established and novice playwrights including many leading Canadian playwrights and many others' debut professional productions. In Canada, [3]this type of theatre is known as Playwrights' Theatre. Workshop West has produced and presented over 100 original production since it was established. Since 2000, the theatre has also presents touring and locally produced theatre in a festivel event first called The Kaboom Performance Festival, January event called The Canoe Theatre Festival.[4] This event takes place in different venues, presenting five to seven works over a ten day period. Another component of the company's mandate is the education of the public in playwrighting skills. Since 1998 it has regularly presented a play reading festival called The Springboards New Play Festival. [5]

Workshop West Theatre History

Nakaiad (talk) 03:49, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

Canadian Theatre's Second Wave

Workshop West Theatre was founded in 1978 by Gerry Potter. Potter had come to Edmonton from Ottawa to undertake graduate studies at the University of Alberta, where he completed an MFA in Directing with the Department of Drama.[6] Potter's goal in starting Workshop West was to pursue the then new idea to "work with local playwrights on new plays, testing and workshopping the material, presenting the best of these works as full productions.” During Potter's 17 seasons as Artistic Director, Workshop West also produced new productions of plays developed at other Canadian theatres, and was one of the first Alternative Theatres to present tours of plays from other parts of Canada. Potter stepped down as Artistic Director in 1997. 1.H

1978 - 1995

Under Potter, Workshop West premiered new plays by Frank Moher, Ray Storey, Brad Fraser, Vern Theissen, Ronnie Burkett, Conni Massing, Stewart Lemoine, Blake Brooker and many others. Notable plays include Fraser's Unidentified Human Remains and The Ugly Man, Storey's Saints & Apostles, an adaptation of Henry Kreisel's novel The Rich Man, Moher's Prairie Report, Lemoine's When Girls Collide... In 1994, Potter created the Springboards New Play Festival. Under Potter Workshop West Theatre [7]also established a significant history presenting alternative touring theatre in Canada before it was a common activity. Plays and Artists he brought to Edmonton include Robert Lepage (Polygraph), Theatre Smith-Gilmour (To Cry Is Not So), Theatre Columbus (The Anger in Earnest and Earnestine) and many others.

Workshop West Theatre's creation was facilitated by a federal funding initiative through the Canada Council for the Arts to develop smaller theatres to present an "alternative" to Canada's system of regional theatres. The Alternative Theatre movement in Canada saw the creation of approximately 50 theatre companies across Canada. The name "Workshop West Theatre" is a cheeky reference to two other North American theatres that focussed on new play development: Toronto Workshop Productions, one of Canada's first great Alternative and Experimental Theatres; and the New York Theatre Workshop.

1994 - 2000

In 1994, David Mann, who acted in many Workshop West productions under Potter's direction, became the company's second Artistic Director. Mann maintained WWT’s new Canadian play focus premiering new Canadian plays.Playwrights he worked with included Marty Chan (Old Boy's Club), Janet Hinton (Delicate State Disturbed, People Don't clim Riif Tops in Oakville), Clem Martini (Selling Mr. Rushdie), Conni (Home Sick), Fraser (Poor Superman), Theissen (Blowfish) and others. Mann involved WWT in many co-productions with Edmonton and western Canadian theatres, and continued to present touring productions. In 1998 he picked up the Loud & Queer Cabaret, a GLBTQ writing showcase from Catalyst Theatre after that company changed its artistic mandate. Through the 1990’s, the Alberta provincial government made significant cuts to provincial arts funding. Workshop West's seasons shrunk from four to two productions.


In 2000, Ron Jenkins succeeded Mann as Artistic Director. Focusing WWT on Alberta writers, he premiered plays by, Stephen Massicotte, Ron Chambers (17 Dogs, Respectable), and Theissen (Apple). He mounted as many second productions, many of which he’d premiered at other theatre companies. One such play, Mieko Ouchi’s Red Priest, also toured to Toronto's Tarragon Theatre. Jenkins won many of Edmonton's Sterling Theatre Awards for his direction and productions. He continued to program the Loud & Queer Cabaret and Springboards. From 2001–2004, he and Vern Theissen ran Workshop West's play development in a program called The Playwrights’ Garage. From 2002–2005, Jenkins presented local and touring plays in the KaBoom! Performance Festival (2001 - 2005). Jenkins left WWT in June 2006.

2006 - 2014

In 2006 Michael Clark joined Workshop West as its fourth Artistic Director after eight seasons as AD for Nakai Theatre in Whitehorse. Under Clark’s leadership, Workshop West audiences saw 16 full productions between 2006 and 2014. This includes 13 world premieres by playwrights including Brad Fraser, Conni Massing, Kenneth Brown, Elyne Quan, Kenneth T Williams, Daniel David Moses, Sandy Paddick and others. Clark produced the professional debuts of eight playwrights including Collin Doyle, Nicole Moeller, Mark Stubbings, Jason Carnew, Katherine Koller, and Blake William Turner. To date, plays produced by Clark at Workshop West playwrights have received in 11 subsequent productions at other theatres Canada and the U.S., garnering in 16 awards or nominations. They have also received readings at theatres across Canada, the U.S. and Europe.

Clark was forced to suspended the 2006/07 season to solve decade-old financial problems. He continued to encourage new play development through the establishment of a "Playwrights Unit," and collaborative projects with other Edmonton theatres such as Theatre Yes, Azimuth Theatre and Guys in Disguise. With Elyne Quan, then Kevin Kerr leading as Artistic Associates, WWT has hosted two Playwrights’ Units. Clark used the fallow season to re-focus the company's resources.

Starting in the 2007/08 season, Workshop West focussed on almost exclusively on producing new plays, often by emerging playwrights. These writers were Colin Doyle (The Mighty Carlins, 2008)[8], Kenneth T. Williams' play Three Little Birds (with Tantoo Cardinal), Elyne Quan (Stray, 2009)[9], Katherine Koller (The Seed Savers), Mark Stubbings (Dry The Rain, 2010) Nicole Moeller (An Almost Perfect Thing, 2011)[10] Blake William Turner (an adaptation called Beowulf The King, 2012) and Ken Brown (Double Double, 2013), Brad Fraser (Kill Me Now) and Conni Massing (The Invention of Romance, 2014).

Workshop West also co-presented plays in its Main Stage season with emerging companies, to help them build their profile. These plays were Stuck (by David Rubinof, 2007), The Spiral Dive Trilogy with THEATrePUBLIC (Kenneth Brown, 2011), Almighty Voice And His Wife with Alberta Aboriginal Arts (Daniel David Moses' play on tour from Native Earth Theatre of Toronto, 2011), Agokwe with Alberta Aboriginal Arts, (Waawaate Fobister, western Canadian tour, 2012), Strike! (Danny Schur and Rick Chafe, 2013).

To Loud & Queer and Springboards New Play Festival, Clark has added The Rubaboo Performance Gala, a cabaret of Aboriginal writing and performance. In 2008, Clark founded The Canoe Theatre Festival began presenting new local, and touring Canadian and international creation based theatre.

Other activities.

The Loud & Queer Cabaret - 1999 - 2011

In 1999 Workshop West took over production of this annual event from Catalyst Theatre.

The Loud & Queer Cabaret was created at Catalyst Theatre in 1991 by Ruth Smilie, its Artistic Director. She programmed it to create a venue in Edmonton for queer writing and performance, something that had not existed before . Smilie, working with Darrin Hagen programmed a mix of dance, poetry, plays, scenes, monologues, film, drag and music from emerging and established lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer writers and performers.

Loud & Queer was produced by Catalyst Theatre from 1991 to 1998. In 1997 its artistic direction changed, moving away from the social action that defined its early programming, and Loud & Queer no longer conformed with new mandate. Workshop West AD David Mann and Jacquie Richardson, a former Catalyst Theatre administrator who in 1997 had become Workshop West's General Manager, decided to include Loud & Queer in Workshop West's programming as a play and playwright development activity. Ron Jenkins continued programming it during his tenure as AD.

Loud & Queer became Western Canada's longest-running LGBTQ performance cabaret. Over 20 years the event grew to include two nights of programming. It debuted more than three hundred works. Loud & Queer launched the careers of emerging writers and premiered new works by some of Canada’s most notable writers. From 2006 through 2011 AD Michael Clark turned the event over to Darrin Hagen and Kevin Hendricks, who had participated in the event from its inception at Catalyst. Their fledgeling theatre company, Guys in Disguise, grew in size and stature along side the Loud & Queer into Edmonton's premiere queer theatre. In 2010 the Canada Council for the Arts advised Workshop West to focus its activities on new play production and on less event programming. The 20th and final Loud & Queer Cabaret played in November 2011.

Aboriginal Theatre Initiatives

The Canoe Theatre Festival

In 2008, Clark founded The Canoe Theatre Festival, which brings creation based, touring theatre artists to Edmonton, and creates a venue where local, Edmonton theatre artists present their work. WWT partners extensively with these theatre artists on The Canoe Festival. The festival gives local creators a platform from which they can launch new work and presents form challenging artists across Canada as well as from England, Germany, Switzerland, and in 2012, New Zealand.[11]

Workshop West also works to develop plays not created by playwrights. In 2008, Clark founded The Canoe Theatre Festival. Each January since 2008, to showcase and present contemporary theatre creation. Clark's vision for The Canoe Theatre Festival was to grow the audience and the environment to support contemporary theatre artists and creation in Edmonton. Canoe supported and presented new works by local contemporary creators and brought challenging, innovative contemporary theatre artists from around the globe to Edmonton. By 2014, The Canoe Theatre Festival had presented 41 festival productions. Many works and artists that found initial support in Canoe have since been invited to theatres across the continent.

Developing Playwrights

WWT offers season-long individual dramaturgy for senior writers with plays in all stages of development, group development for emerging writers and showcase cabarets for culturally specific communities. WWT partners with play development organizations to maximize resources, and stay abreast of new plays writers.

WWT partners extensively with local, provincial and national organizations on many initiatives.

Since 1994, Workshop West has operated out of the Third Space, a retired church owned by the city of Edmonton, in which it rehearses its and houses its office.

Workshop West Theatre Mission and Mandate:

Founding Mandate (1978)

The production and presentation for the public of Canadian plays and the education of the public in playwrighting skills.

2007 Mission Statement

Workshop West Theatre:

• creates venues, programming, and growth opportunities for playwrights and theatre artists including: productions, presentations, festivals, dramaturgical support for playwrights, play development exercises, commissions and residencies;

• involves the community in new play development;

• reflects the diversity of Canadian creation;

• encourages artistic excellence, risk-taking, and respectful collaboration;

• collaborates with other organizations of similar focus locally, nationally, internationally;

• operates within a stable organizational and financial structure.

The structure of the organization

Workshop West Theatre employs a full time Artistic Director and a General Manager. It hosts Artistic Associates when grants permit. One part time staff is engaged for box office and event management. Other positions (i.e marketing, production and other administrative ) are contracted out.

It is a non-profit charitable organization operating within the jurisdiction of the Canadian Theatre Agreement with Canadian Actors Equity Association and the Associated Designers of Canada. It’s a member of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres, the Edmonton Arts Council and the Professional Arts Coalition of Edmonton.







<6>Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia [1]


<8>Michael Hale, Yukon News, Monday June 26, 2006 [2]

The History of Prairie Theatre: the Development of Theatre in Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 1833-1982. E. Ross Stuart. Toronto: Simon & Pierre, 1984. ISBN 0-88924-121-X. page 220;rad

Production History Workshop West Theatre Website [3]

Saturday Night, Volume 107, Issues 7-10, pp82

Front Cover New Leaf Publications., 1992

West-words : celebrating western Canadian theatre and playwriting. Day, Moira Jean, University of Regina, CPRC Press, c2011. ISBN: 9780889772359

Canadian Theatre Review, Issues 42-45 York University (Toronto, Ont.) Faculty of Fine Arts, York University, 1985 pp52-53

The Rich Man: A Script-in-progress. Henry Kreisel, Joanne Osborne, Gerry Potter, Workshop West Theatre (Edmonton, Alta.), 1988 - 144 pages

Hot Thespian Action!:Ten Premiere Plays from Walterdale Playhouse. Edited by Robin C. Whittaker October 2008 ISBN 978-1-897425-26-8 1.

Interview with Gerry Potter, 2007 [4]

Michael Hale, Yukon News, Monday June 26, 2006 [5]

December 31, 2008  by Michael Hingston, Paul Matwychuk and Marliss Weber [6]

Liz Nicholls, Edmonton Journal, March 27, 2011 [7]

David Berry, Vue Weekly, December 31, 2009 [8]

Marliss Webber, See Magazine, April 30, 2009 [9]

Nakaiad (talk) 04:29, 26 May 2011 (UTC) (talk) 08:52, 4 March 2010 (UTC) Michael Clark

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