Working Spark Theatre

A ‘Bolt from the Blue: Working Spark Goes the Shadbolt Centre

The last few weeks have been busy here at Working Spark.  We are in full pre-production for our forthcoming presentation of I am the Bastard Daughter of Engelbert Humperdinck, finding key pieces for the set, gathering lighting plots and floor plans, organizing schedules. As we prepare for our load-in to the theatre, happening in couple weeks, I can’t help but think, It is going to be awesome to get to work in the Shadbolt.

The SCA's Studio Theatre.

The ‘Bolt’s Studio Theatre.

We are lucky to be performing the show in Studio Theatre in the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts (or SCA, or affectionately “The ‘Bolt”), one of the best black box studio spaces in the Lower Mainland, as far as I’m concerned.  It has a large stage, ample wing and back-stage space, a fully-equipped lighting grid, and a flexible seating configuration.  This is luxury compared to some of the found and do-it-yourself spaces that exist in Vancouver!  The Studio has served as a space for everything from one-man sketch comedy to film screenings to dance.  It’s going to be a great space in which to perform our show.

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the ‘Bolt, the unique arts centre that has become a central player in the thriving arts scene of Vancouver, Burnaby, and really the entire Lower Mainland.  Part of the reason the Studio Theatre (and all the facilities contained in the Shadbolt) are so easy to work in is because the building was specifically built to accommodate the needs of a variety of performing and visual arts.

Jack Shadbolt was a visual artist and teacher, and his wife Doris was a prominent curator and art director.  The couple moved to Burnaby in 1950, and helped to nurture the visual arts in the province and across the country.  Both were named to the Order of Canada, and the SCA is named after them.  The Shadbolt opened in 1995 in Burnaby in Deer Lake Park and is owned and operated by the City of Burnaby.  It boasts not only the Studio Theatre, but the 400-seat James Cowan Theatre, painting studios, extensive ceramic studios, exhibition space, dance studios, and the live outdoor venue in Deer Lake Park, which has hosted internationally known musicians, such as Taj Mahal, Feist, and Bjork.  The mandate of the center focusses on both education and professional exhibition and performance.

I am the Bastard Daughter of Engelbert Humperdinck is part of the Shadbolt’s Independents Series in the 2015-16 Theatre & Dance Season.  (Included in the Independents is Inside/Out, Patrick Keating’s one-man show about life in the Canadian Prison System.  See it if you can—very cool, compelling show.)  The season is programmed by Cory Philley, the SCA’s Theatre and Event Services Coordinator.  “I often have a theme for the season and start there to program,” Cory says.  “I try to offer the best in contemporary theatre, dance and music…the Shadbolt runs an artist-in-residency in program for dance and theatre so I am around new work all the time, and companies and artists approach me about projects.  I do offer a more mainstream series for theatre and music but look for opportunities to present new and innovative performance experiences.”  Cory’s eclectic, wide-ranging approach results in a performance season that literally has something for everyone:  from us over at the Independents, to a dance series that includes local favourite Tara Cheyenne, to jazz vocalist Carol Welsman, to touring shows from Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre.

So basically, we can’t wait to move in and put up the show, and are thrilled to bits to be part of this year’s season at The ‘Bolt.  We hope to make Humperdinck proud!

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