It started as a notion; “let’s start a theatre company.”
I started Shadow Theatre with my theatre school buddy Shaun Johnson. We wanted to do plays that spoke to us and we hoped there would be an audience for them.
We started out at The Fringe. Our first show, Fool For Love by Sam Shepard , was a surprise hit. Well, a surprise to us anyway. We followed that up with How I Got That Story by Amlin Grey, which was directed by James DeFelice and starred myself and Shaun with live music by Doug Blackey. It was a massive success and ran at The Nexus Theatre downtown for two weeks after the festival closed, and then toured to Calgary. The final Fringe show we did was Some Things You Need To Know Before the World Ends (A Final Evening With The Illuminati) by Levi Lee and Larry Larson. It was the first show ever to win a Sterling Award for Outstanding Fringe Production.
So we were off to a good start!
Then we started to produce outside of the festival. First there was Catching the Train, our first new work written by Shaun. He then left us to go and be a big TV star (Jack on Heartland). Well done Shaun. However, this show connected me to Coralie Cairns, David Belke and John Sproule, all of whom would play big roles in the next phase of our development.
Just as we began producing outside of the Fringe Festival, and were beginning to understand a bit about how the “business” of theatre worked a very lucky event happened to us; The Fringe Festival moved out of The Chinook Theatre and took over the bus barns across the street. This meant that The Chinook (now The Varscona) was empty and we were able to move in and start producing full seasons. This was a pivotal moment for us as we now had a home. People knew where to find us and we were able to start producing seasons and building a loyal audience base. What a stroke of luck.
Now here we are about to start our 30th anniversary season, which of course should have happened earlier but COVID had other ideas. We have produced over 110 shows to great acclaim; provided meaningful employment for hundreds of artists, entertained thousands of people, produced plays as wildly different as Sexy Laundry, Almost-Maine, The Baltimore Waltz, The Comedy Company, Grace, Three Days of Rain, The Science of Disconnection, Sylvia, Henry IV (pt1), Uncle Vanya, The Cartoonist, The Minor Keys, The Weir, Honor, All The Little Animals I Have Eaten, the list goes on and on. We built a new theatre that the next generation will inherit and (generally) had a delightful time doing it.
So thank you. Thank you for supporting us over all these the years, for telling us what you liked and what you didn’t, and coming on some strange journeys with us. Thank you for donating and volunteering and most of all for loving live theatre. We can’t wait to see what the next 30 years have in store.