New group runs Against the Wall

Move over Ignition Theatre — a new local theatre group is being formed in Red Deer on the assumption that this town is big enough to support more edgy, thought-provoking stage productions.

Improv and short sketches are mainstays for BullSkit!

Improv and short sketches are mainstays for BullSkit!

Move over Ignition Theatre — a new local theatre group is being formed in Red Deer on the assumption that this town is big enough to support more edgy, thought-provoking stage productions.

Against The Wall Theatre is planning a first season of plays dealing with youth angst, homelessness and a celebration of women’s achievement. The comic drama Suburbia, by Eric Bogosian, will start things off in late November, featuring a plot about a group of alienated youths feeling stuck in a small town.

“It’s about how they react to the world, and their point of view about what’s going on around them,” said Jenna Goldade, who plans to direct the play. Her partner in Against the Wall Theatre, Amy Erlandson, will be head of production.

The two recent Red Deer College Theatre Studies graduates behind Against the Wall Theatre have already built an audience with their Bull Skit! A Night of Comedy variety shows, which have been running monthly at The Matchbox. The last Bull Skit! shows of the season will run there at 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Having sold out three of the last five variety shows, Goldade said she and Erlandson, who have been friends since high school, have not only been able to pay their performers, but also to put some money aside to help finance the first season of Against the Wall Theatre.

“I think Red Deer is growing and there are so many talented people in the city, there needs to be support for local theatre, said Goldade, who believes it’s “silly” to go to Calgary and Edmonton for entertainment when great stuff is happening locally.

“People are starting to realize they are not stuck in the middle.”

Some very “smart” plays were staged in Red Deer this past season, including My Name is Rachel Corrie by Ignition Theatre, and Thy Neighbour’s Wife by Prime Stock Theatre.

As a result of these high-calibre productions, many theatre-goers are becoming discerning, said Goldade, who has acted with Ignition Theatre and directed an original musical that went to the Calgary and Edmonton Fringe Festivals.

“They know what’s good.”

While the fictional youths in Suburbia are feeling stuck in their home town, Goldade, who is 21, feels in no great rush to leave Red Deer.

The Notre Dame High School graduate said she likes the idea of creating more opportunities for RDC graduates to ply their trade locally, so they don’t have to immediately take off to bigger centres.

Starting in the fall, Bull Skit! shows, as well as Against The Wall Theatre’s other offerings — which will include the drama about New York Squatters, Blackbird by Adam Rapp, and a yet-to-be-written play highlighting women’s achievements — will be shown in the Scott Block theatre on Gaetz Avenue, downtown.

Both Goldade and Erlandson wanted to give an under-used venue some more business. They also wanted to put a little distance between Against the Wall Theatre and Ignition Theatre, which regularly uses The Matchbox.

While their group’s first season will feature provocative plays similar to those staged by Ignition Theatre, Goldade envisions going with even riskier subject matter in future.

“We really want to challenge our actors and our audience.”

Anyone who’s enjoyed Bull Skit! A Night of Comedy has the choice of two best-of shows this weekend.

Two somewhat different Bull Skit! final shows of the season are planned for Saturday and Sunday at The Matchbox.

Saturday’s variety show will feature local band Annunaki, as well as singers Darren Hopwood and contortionist Mihaela DuVal. Sunday’s show will also include DuVal, as well as local band and singing duo Dustin Clark and Stephen Kievit.

Both nights will showcase different improvs, but the same sketches, performed by Jenna Goldade, Amy Erlandson, Serge Belliveau, Richard Men, Alexandra Mihill, Matt Dale and Whitney Grace.

“We wanted to do two nights because a lot of people have watched Bull Skit! throughout the year and might want to catch our best-of show,” said Goldade.

This Against the Wall Theatre production starts at 8 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) Tickets are $20 ($16.50 for students) from Ticketmaster.