Artists and audiences made it together
On January 13, we woke up to the shocking news that Edmonton had lost the Roxy Theatre. Heather Zwicker, a professor of English at the University of Alberta and a volunteer on Make Something Edmonton’s activation board, wrote a poignant post for Make Something Edmonton’s blog, reflecting on what The Roxy meant to our city and why the theatre community — both artists and audiences — might be Edmonton’s original makers.
The theatre community might be Edmonton’s original makers. These days, we often use “makers” and “the maker movement” to refer to Etsy-style artisans, hipster entrepreneurs or Arduino nerds. But as anyone with the slenderest theatre experience knows, even a shoestring theatre can make magic out of a couple of two-by-fours and a roll of tin foil, with the right actors. Add imaginative material and good lighting, and you’re transported to an entirely new world – more DIWO (do-it-with-others) than DIY, but every bit as daring and risky as next week’s pet Kickstarter project.
But it takes much more than just the company to make a theatre community. In the broadest sense, audiences are makers too. When we buy season tickets, flock to the Fringe, read or write reviews, and take in the latest show, we are actively building cultural life. When that theatre (or bookstore, or garden, or market, or festival) is connected to its neighbourhood, we are making urban life. Think about an artisan, who masters old skills; a developer, who learns new ones; or an entrepreneur, who experiments and takes risks. What they all have in common is putting their own creative energies into the world. Nowhere is this more necessary than in civic life. How do we want to live? What should a city be? And what can we do to make it happen?
Read the full blog post here:
The Roxy Theatre: Artists and audiences made it together
Ways to Help:
As recommended by the NextFest Arts Company:
1. Donate. Visit https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/theatre-network-society/ to give directly to Theatre Network.
2. Laugh. Rapid Fire Theatre is donating ticket sales from their 7:30pm show this Friday, Janaury 16 to Theatre Network.
3. Come together. Free Will Shakespeare Festival is sharing the proceeds from the Free Will Players – Blow the Roof Off Benefit Concert! this coming Saturday, January 17 at C103.
About Make Something Edmonton:
An Edmontonian by birth, Heather Zwicker has lived in San Francisco, New York, Honolulu and Mzumbe, Tanzania – but she always returns to Edmonton. A professor of English at the University of Alberta, she has taught several courses on urban theory and local writing to students who invariably reconsider their opinions about the city. Her research group Edmonton Pipelines uses digital platforms to tell diverse stories about the city from Aboriginal, suburban, homeless and neighbourhood perspectives. On the summer solstice, Edmonton Pipelines runs #YEGLongDay and on the winter solstice #YEGLongNight, a one-day social-media-driven storytelling blitz. Heather was the founding board chair for Exposure: Edmonton’s Queer Arts and Culture Festival (2007-2010) and has volunteered for a number of arts organizations over the years, including the AGA, the Nina Haggerty Centre, and the Edmonton Arts Council.