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The Virgin Trial – Alberta Theatre Projects
Photo Credits


From July 17 to 30, young theatre artists from across Alberta gathered at Red Deer Polytechnic to work with a team of talented instructors and supervisors and create alongside their peers, using Qui Nguyen’s She Kills Monsters: Young Adventurers Edition as inspiration. The return to #IRL rekindled the decades-long legacy of Artstrek, which has made its mark across Alberta and beyond since 1960. It was a joy to see the impact the program had on students this summer.

This year, 114 students joined us from across Alberta — they came from Airdrie, Ardrossan, Athabasca, Beaumont, Blackfalds, Bonnyville, Calgary, Camrose, Canmore, Castor, Cochrane, Devon, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Fort Saskatchewan, Grimshaw, Gunn, High River, Jasper, Lacombe, Leduc, Lethbridge, Nobleford, Parkland County, Red Deer, Sedgewick, Sexsmith, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Sylvan Lake, Wainwright, Wanham, and Warburg. We also welcomed two international students! 20 of our students received scholarships supported by Theatre Alberta donors, and another 25 were supported by community sponsors

“I love Artstrek because it grows our skills but also helps grow our confidence in an environment where we don’t have to worry about what people think of us because everyone is so incredibly supportive.”
– Artstrek 2022 student

“I was surrounded by people who love theatre and performing arts as much as I do. We learned lots and had so many opportunities to grow. I wanted time to stop so I could stay here forever.”
– Artstrek 2022 student

“Artstrek immerses you in different aspects of theatre and brings you into a space with other people who share similar passions. Also, you make lots of friends and have fun!”
Artstrek 2022 student


Karen Johnson-Diamond has worked with us as Artstrek’s Administrative Director for the past ten years, and was also an Artstrek instructor for many years before that! Karen is now passing the torch to Sue Goberdhan who assumes the Administrative Director role in 2023.

In light of these changing tides, we want to recall the impact Karen has had on Artstrek. Karen always took the time to build genuine relationships with everyone: Students, Supervisors, Instructors, and Red Deer Polytechnic staff members in admin, security, residence, and cafeteria. She sees, communicates with, and nurtures the whole human. She invested hugely in each new Artstrek, loving and believing in the power of high level theatre training, but also of “camp” and community. Karen ensured that Artstrek was not only about great theatre experiences, but great life experiences. She always saw and stated the growth of individual students and team members who returned over the years. And she always had room for their changes—she was open to meeting each new version of us each July.

Glenda Stirling, former Artstrek Curriculum Director, shared these reflections on her partnership with Karen, aka her “Work Wife”: 

“When I’m lost with a lesson plan, when there’s group conflict, a bee sting, a big or small grief or hurt, a mistake I don’t know how to fix, a hug I long for, a laugh or a dance or a snack I need, Karen will be there with all of the above. All day and all night long, for the entire Artstrek community. And we roomed together for years so I really mean she’s available 24 hours a day. I saw it. KJD embodies the best of Artstrek. And that’s why she has the generosity and wisdom to pass the torch. Because that’s what we trekkers do– learn, love, and pass it on.”

It is in this spirit that we thank KJD for her service and devotion to Artstrek. She’ll be deeply missed!


The Artstrek community is wide and generous. This summer’s program was supported by both new and returning team members, donors, and businesses!

The Team – Program Director Jenna Rodgers, Curriculum Director Linette Smith, Administrative Director Karen Johnson-Diamond, Associate Administrative Director Sue Goberdhan, Technical Coordinator Lowen Carlson, Instructors Jessica Eckstadt, Chariz Faulmino, Richard Lee, Melissa Mayville, Andrew Ritchie, Lara Schmitz, Vern Slipetz, KP Smith, Marshall Vielle, and Morgan Yamada, Senior Supervisors Alyssa Short and Sean Haid, Supervisors Courtney Cardinal, Sean Fetaz, Kaeleb Gartner, Sabrina Jagpal, Shania Lehmann, Kiersten Polard, and Melissa Pratt, and Program Assistant Julia van Dam. A special thank you to our Red Deer Polytechnic Liaison Kirsten Cotton as well!



Scholarship Campaign Donors, via Canada Helps, SkipTheDepot, and Shaw’s Birdies for Kids presented by AtlaLink – Stephanie McLachlan, Elizabeth Martin, Hannah Fridhed, Keri Mitchell, Lana Hughes, JKJ Project Management LTD, Lesley Howard-Stafford, Elizabeth Wilkie, Erika Norrie, Julie Sinclair, Jenna Rodgers, Jake Tkaczyk, Concrete Theatre, Maria Gynane-Willis, Dennie Hamaluik, Emily Pole, April Killins, as well as many anonymous donors. Special thanks to Shaw Birdies for Kids presented by AltaLink for their matching contributions as well!



Funders and Sponsors – Alberta Foundation for the ArtsRed Deer Polytechnic, the Edmonton Community Foundation, and the RBC Foundation, as well as Theatre Alberta’s additional operating funders the Edmonton Arts Council and Calgary Arts Development. We welcomed BioWare as our Artstrek 2022 Script Sponsor! We also received in-kind donations and discounts from the Canadian Red CrossCanada StrongSobeysRolling Tales Pop CultureThe Costume CollectiveGwendolyn’s ClosetBleeding Art Industries2-for-1 Family PizzaQuiznos, and the Red Deer Advocate.





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