Fire Exit Theatre announces 18th season
by Laureen F. Guenther
Calgary’s Fire Exit Theatre opens its 18th season on September 20, with Taste and See, a season launch celebration and fundraiser.
“Taste & See is … a great way to start our year getting our patrons excited for what’s coming,” says Val Lieske, Managing Artistic Director. The non-formal event is held at First Nazarene Church.
“We have the best Bar-B-Q you will ever have, courtesy of Bubba Q’S Bar-B-Q. We do a silent and live auction. We showcase scenes from each of the shows from the season. And I get a chance to share a bit of why we do what we do, why we tell the stories we tell, why we think telling good stories is extraordinarily important at this time, in this city.”
Lieske and her fellow Arts Chaplain, Brandon Trotter, host The Blessing of the Artists, Fire Exit’s second event of the season, October 7, in The Lantern Church.
“This (The Blessing) is one of my favourite things we do,” Lieske says. “I just love the idea of bringing the arts community together to celebrate them and the calling on their lives and to remind them that they are not alone.”
This free, non-ticketed event is an opportunity to let artists know that Lieske and Trotter are available to them as a resource.
“At The Blessing, we stand together and remind ourselves that (what) we are doing is very important but that ‘artist’ isn’t our only identity,” Lieske says. “And that we know that as the season goes forward, that life happens; failing marriages, health issues, financial stress, and family grief.”
“We have a big coffee budget and we love to listen.”
The Blessing includes performances from local performing artists and visual art, and an invitation to go forward and be anointed.
“At the end of the evening we all drink coffee and eat pie in the church basement. It’s old school…and amazing,” she says.
The season’s first performance event is a guest performance from Scott Erickson, performing his own Say Yes: A Liturgy of Not Giving Up on Yourself, October 9-13 in the Engineered Air Theatre.
Scott Erickson is a “touring painter, performance speaker, and creative curate who mixes autobiography, mythology, and aesthetics,” Lieske says. He’s also the author of Prayer: Forty Days of Practice.
“Say Yes: A Liturgy of Not Giving Up On Yourself, juxtaposes story-teaching, participation, humor, and image curation as Scott walks us through the very personal and universal conversation about the death of a dream and the overwhelming voice of giving up in our lives,” Lieske says.
It’s “a multi-sensory experience that reveals this moment, not as an ending but as a sacred doorway into a much deeper invitation to our hopes, vocation, and our existence itself.”
Later in the season, Fire Exit will also produce three locally-directed plays.
Babette’s Feast, by Rose Courtney, and based on the short story by Isak Dinesen, will be directed by Jeany Snider, December 11 to 15.
“There is great suffering in the world; famine, injustice, terror and confusion. There is also abundant strength, hope, generosity, persistence and above all, love,” Lieske says. “Babette’s Feast … helps navigate this, showing that love cannot be diminished by pain. More than just a feast, the meal is an outpouring of Babette’s appreciation, an act of self-sacrifice.”
Eleemosynary, by Lee Blessing, will be directed by Lieske, February 5 to 9, 2020. This play, “staged with utmost simplicity, using platforms and a few props,” probes the relationship between a grandmother, mother and granddaughter, and speaks of abandonment, estrangement, need, and reconciliation.
This Random World by Steven Dietz is the final show of the season, directed by Heather Laubenstein and performed May 13 to 17. It “asks the serious question of how often we travel parallel paths through the world without noticing,” Lieske says. “This funny, intimate and heart-breaking play explores the lives that may be happening just out of reach of our own.”
For more information or to buy tickets to any Fire Exit Theatre events, see www.fireexit.ca. You may also be able to purchase tickets at the door.