Little Theatre preparing for milestone TheatreFest on April 20 to 26

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Bruce Rayner, who will serve as the Festival Stage Manager during the 180 Theatre Festival, adjusts a speaker at Beatty Playhouse at the Great Plains College gymnasium in advance of the six performance festival which runs April 20 to 26.

Beatty Playhouse is undergoing a serious spring cleaning in preparation for Swift Current Little Theatre's opportunity to host Theatre Saskatchewan's annual TheatreFest.

This year's event on April 21 to 26 is entitled the 180 Theatre Festival in recognition of the City of Swift Current's 100th anniversary year and this year marking the provincial festival’s 80th anniversary.

As a showcase of community theatre companies from across the province, the Festival will require a major effort by the host Swift Current committee to ensure the full-length play festival runs smoothly. All this behind the scenes work is occurring at the same time as Swift Current Little Theatre prepares for an four night performance of the comedic drama Willow Road, written by Wendy Lockman, in advance of their performance at TheatreFest.

Festival co-chair Ken Johnson, who is tackling the organizing duties with Rachel Wormsbecher, admits there is a long list of duties to complete in order to host the province.

"There's a whole host of things you have to do before you start a production and turn this place from a gymnasium back into an auditorium," he said from the Beatty Playhouse stage in the gymnasium of Great Plains College.

During a spring cleaning day on March 29 they had volunteers working in the costume area as part of a major cleaning effort. They were also busy installing new electrical cords in order to wire improved in-house lighting to help create a better audience atmosphere during theatre performances.

There are also challenges away from the stage, as they are currently finalizing sponsors for things such as providing meals for the Green Room and supplying silent auction items for fundraising raffles during each nightly performance at the festival.

Johnson said the extra effort is worth it because of the importance of live theatre.

"We still think live shows is entertainment of its own. Its uniqueness. Its involvement of the audience. Being there and seeing it first hand is something you just don't get in a movie theatre, or television or something off of your iPod. It's the participation of the audience in the actual piece that's on stage that makes it different."

With admission prices of $12 at the door, or $50 for a TheatreFest pass for all six shows, the Festival is a real entertainment bargain.

The Festival kicks off with a real Southwest flair with Swift Current Little Theatre opening on April 21 with Willow Road, and That Kritical Stage from Kyle is on stage with Homecoming by Leanne Minogue on Tuesday, April 22. The remaining play line-up is: April 23 - Moose Jaw Community Players presenting Here On The Flight Path by Norm Foster; April 24 - Battlefords Community Players performing Sexy Laundry by Michele Riml; April 25 - Yorkton's Paper Bag Players with The Drowning Girls by Beth Graham, Charlie Tomlinson and Daniela Vlaskalicis; April 26 - Melfort Amateur Dramatics presents Snapshots by Cynthia Mercati.

Rayner and Johnson, along with a series of other Swift Current Little Theatre members, have attended theatre festivals for over 15 years and point to the benefits it provides for community theatre groups.

"You develop some really good friendships, and you really learn a lot from your other sister organizations that are out there. We've seen a variety of different plays in our time, done differently. And the things you learn from the different adjudicators is really amazing."

"It's what keeps you fresh at this. Because if you keep doing the same thing over and over and not getting any better, or not getting anything different in it, you would loose your people pretty quick."

Individual performance tickets can be purchased in advance for $10 at Pharmasave, or for $12 at the door. A festival pass for $50 includes tickets for all shows and is available at Pharmasave until the Festival begins. Doors open at 7 p.m. nightly with row seating and table seating available each night, with a cash bar and food available.

For more information see https://www.facebook.com/SwiftCurrentLittleTheatre or http://www.theatresaskatchewan.com

Organizations: Little Theatre, Theatre Saskatchewan, Swift Current Little Theatre

Geographic location: Swift Current

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