Downstage Presents the World Premiere of Smoke

Kudos to Downstage - always at the forefront of social conversations – as they present the world premiere of Smoke written by acclaimed Albertan playwright Elena Eli Belyea and directed by Christine Brubaker. Opening tonight!

Jordan, Aiden's ex, shows up at Aiden's apartment to confront her about the allegation that Jordan sexually assaulted her two years ago. The smoke is thick and the town is burning. What will it take to put it out? This powerful and timely new play will be staged featuring an opposite-sex and same-sex couple on alternate nights.

Smoke is being produced and presented by Calgary-based theatre company Downstage, whose mandate is to create meaningful conversation around contemporary social issues. Downstage Artistic Director Clare Preuss describes this latest work as “…a nuanced piece that is purposefully ambiguous and asks big questions around memory, love, passion and the value of consent.” Actor Chantelle Han, who plays Aiden, eloquently describes her experiences alternating between an opposite-sex and same-sex cast in the National Post’s preview, Timely Play’s Gender Twist Should Provoke Discussion.

A talkback with the artists will be held after each performance, enabling audience members to engage with these complex questions.

Smoke plays Feb 13-23, 2019 at the Big Secret Theatre, Arts Commons. More information is available at:

High Performance Rodeo Happenings

Magpie Exchange Artists Participate in Calgary’s International Festival of the Arts

High Performance Rodeo, Calgary’s International Festival of the Arts produced by One Yellow Rabbit, runs January 9 – 27, 2019. Calgary’s venues will come alive with an amazing array of local, national, and international performing artists in this 33rd edition, which is focusing on the joy of expression. And the inspiring artists and companies on Magpie Exchange’s roster are participating in various ways.

  • Ghost River Theatre’s Artistic Director Eric Rose is a co-creator of the Dust Bowl Blues Opera This Little Piggie, happening at the Royal Canadian Legion #1 on January 11th and 12th.

  • Inside Out Theatre is co-presenting the inclusive and participatory project The Democratic Set by Australia’s Back to Back Theatre, with a final film screening at the Calgary Central Library on January 12th.

  • Downstage is co-presenting the ever-popular 10-Minute Play Festival, which gives theatre makers just 24 hours to prepare a 10-minute play. This annual event takes place at the Martha Cohen Theatre on January 12th.

Be sure to check out these and other cool happenings at the Rodeo! | @HPRodeo

Local Agency Launched

Press Release, October 2018 (Matthew Waddell, Ghost River Theatre)

Canada Council funds initiative to support touring goals of Alberta theatre makers.

A group of Calgary theatre companies have joined forces to fill a void and initiate a locally-based tour booking agency. Ghost River Theatre has received two years of funding from Canada Council to help kickstart the agency and along with Inside Out Theatre and Downstage, have committed to be the agency’s founding clients. The Canada Council grant also includes mentorship for the start-up from Dani Fecko of Vancouver’s Fascinator Management and Calgary’s Old Trout Puppet Workshop. They are pleased to announce that Christy Offer has been contracted to be their agent and create the agency, which will be an independent entity. Ms. Offer brings years of industry experience as a performing arts presenter at UBC and the Calgary International Children’s Festival to the role.

All three theatre companies invest significant time and resources creating original works which should ideally have extended lives on national and international stages. However, they have each faced challenges maximizing touring opportunities. A telling example is award-winning The Last Voyage of Donald Crowhurst, which took Ghost River Theatre several years to create. Despite a successful 2015 premiere and offers from festivals in New Zealand and Europe, GRT did not have the human resources to get international tours of the production off the ground. A key disadvantage for Calgary theatre makers has been the lack of an Alberta-based booking agency to represent them and take on the persistent work of building tours.

At a time when the local theatre community has been facing questions of viability, this agency start-up exemplifies artists proactively coming together to tackle a sectoral issue. The collective’s goal is to help establish a sustainable agency that will eventually create touring opportunities for a growing roster of regional companies and ultimately foster a vibrant culture of theatre making within the prairies.