The Edmonton theatre community came together on Friday, January 30, 2015 at the ATB Financial Arts Barns to rejoice as Theatre Network, The Varscona Theatre Alliance (VTA), and Fringe Theatre Adventures (FTA) announced a new theatre venue and temporary home for Theatre Network, The Backstage Theatre in the ATB Financial Arts Barns (10330-84 Avenue).
The Backstage Theatre came together first as a partnership between the Varscona Theatre Alliance and Fringe Theatre Adventures. As the Varscona Theatre was about to undergo construction, which would leave the company without a venue for a year, VTA approached FTA with the proposal to develop the warehouse space in the ATB Financial Arts Barns into a proper theatre space and move their productions in temporarily. VTA wanted to invest in the necessary leasehold improvements to make this a functional theatre space for the year they intended to use it. Then VTA will leave it to FTA to run as a performance venue for years to come as a lasting legacy for the Edmonton theatre community. This space has been in development for several months.
After tragedy struck the historic Roxy Theatre, Tuesday January 13th, a hole was left in the hearts of many Edmontonians as we lost an iconic building and one of the few proper theatre spaces available in Edmonton. VTA saw an opportunity to help out Theatre Network by keeping the Varscona Theatre open a few months longer and offering The Backstage Theatre to Theatre Network to finish their 40th Anniversary Season. The Backstage Theatre will provide a fresh start for Theatre Network as they move their Season into the space starting on February 27, 2015 with the production of Hey Ladies!– with additional performances April 24 and May 22, 2015, followed by the 40th Anniversary Event Fundraiser, March 6 & 7, 2015, and Armstrong’s War, March 31-April 19, 2015.
“My first work as a professional actor was at Theatre Network, and our extended family there would reach out to help us in a heartbeat. That we are able to help out in this instance is not only good fortune but an honour and a pleasure. It may seem like generosity on our part, but truly with Bradley Moss and his expert team of artists and technicians contributing to the set up and launch of our interim venue, we are getting as much as we’re giving.” says Jeff Haslam, Teatro La Quindicina’s Artistic Director and representative of the Varscona Theatre Alliance.
“As a former General Manager for Theatre Network, I have had the privileged of working with Bradley Moss, Jeff Haslam, and John Hudson on many occasions over the years.” reflects Jill Roszell, Executive Director of Fringe Theatre Adventures. “We are all connected and when tragedy strikes, we all feel the loss. When you see your friends and colleagues in need, your immediate reaction is: how can I help? Edmontonians come together to help neighbours in need. That’s who we are. We are all in this together.
“What Jeff Haslam, Jill Roszell and John Hudson have done is beyond generous. It demonstrates flexible thinking in times of great stress for these companies as they work to create The Backstage Theatre and the new Varscona Theatre.” says Bradley Moss, Theatre Network’s Artistic Director. “The fact that they are able to think about us across town and extend a hand to us to help save our 40th Anniversary Season – Hey Ladies!, Summer of my Amazing Luck live recording and Armstrong’s War – is a great act of compassion. Theatre Network is so honoured to launch these first few shows, and we want to recognize and thank all of the Board Members and staff at Varsconca Theatre and Fringe Theatre Adventures. You are saving our ability to sell tickets and to stay alive, we thank you for the life jacket.”
The Backstage Theatre
Located in the ATB Financial Arts Barns, in the space formally known as The Cabaret space to Edmonton Fringe Festival enthusiasts, The Backstage Theatre is currently undergoing leasehold improvements set to be completed by the middle of February. The revamped space will boast a brand new entrance and bar, new washrooms, and can accommodate 150 seats.