Central Alberta’s biggest tourist town is adding more culture to its beach and sports mix.
After holding a sold-out Theatre Trail last September and a popular playwriting workshop in November, the Sylvan Lake Theatre Company is anticipating more creative ventures in 2023.
Public reaction to the group’s offerings has been resoundingly positive so far, said artistic director Tanya Ryga. “I knew we wanted a theatre here,” she added, but the town is clearly “ripe” for more cultural events, judging by the buy-in from audiences.
Sylvan Lake Theatre Company is planning more original plays, acting workshops, playwriting seminars and readings, and storytelling sessions this year and beyond.
To fundraise for the season, the troupe is holding Comedy Night Live on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the seniors centre in the Nexsource Centre. Red Deer’s Improv Jelly is featured, along with a couple of local comedians.
Ryga, a retired Red Deer College theatre instructor, noted Sylvan lake is larger than Lacombe and about twice as big as Innisfail and Rocky Mountain House— three communities that have sustained long-running thespian groups.
Homegrown Theatre in Lacombe recently bought an old church and transformed it into a performing arts centre, while the Innisfail Town Theatre has a long partnership with the Moose Hall, where its plays and dinner theatres are held. Rocky’s Northern Crossing Music and Drama Society has been presenting Christmas-time and spring musicals since about 1985.
Sylvan Lake, which is mostly known for its beach scene, has had a smattering of theatrical offerings over the years. Ryga now intends to make it a regular thing. Another Theatre Trail project is planned for this fall, consisting of short plays, written by local playwrights, performed in various local spaces and businesses.
The group is also planning more playwriting seminars since 16 people registered for the last one in November. Readings of these plays were later held with 15 actors.
Ryga was surprised to discover so much talent in the community — some residents even have past professional theatre training or experience.
The young town with an average age of 38, draws an estimated one million tourists every summer, so she sees plenty of opportunity. Not only will local residents benefit from wider entertainment events, but tourists might stay in the community longer to catch a show, Ryga added.
For more information about the Comedy Night Live fundraiser, please visit sylvanlaketheatre.com.
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