The highly-acclaimed Ignition Theatre is back with a bang, having recently announced a return to seasonal programming though the 2019/2020 season.
Known for having produced some of Central Alberta’s most critically-acclaimed and provocative live theatre over the past 12 years, Ignition Theatre will produce nine productions over the next three years thanks to an unprecedented agreement with Central Alberta Theatre, who has committed the Nickel Studio in the Red Deer Memorial Centre to Ignition as their new and permanent home.
“My guarantee is that the quality of our theatre will not change,” explained Matt Grue, artistic director with Ignition Theatre.
“If you love(d) our brand of theatre, we are bringing it back in spades. Our theatre will challenge, provoke and entertain. We’ve been inspired by our partnership with CAT to brand out and work with other companies and you’ll see our programming reflect our commitment to encouraging other companies and artists to self/co-produce in our community,” he said.
“In my mind, we have a responsibility to not only produce high quality theatre, but foster the growth of creation in Central Alberta, something I’m much more interested in than polish and pizzazz. While we won’t be making formal programming and ticketing announcement until early September, I can say that attending Ignition Theatre productions will be more affordable, more diverse and equally as exciting and provocative as it has been through the past 12 years.”
Grue said that Ignition Theatre was fortunate to partner with Ridge Enterprises/The Matchbox Theatre Foundation for the past decade, and that the troupe is, “Equally as grateful and excited to be working with Central Alberta Theatre to return to high-calibre, professional theatrical productions to Central Alberta.”
Audiences will remember Ignition for having presented some of the most memorable theatre in Central Alberta’s history including Tuesdays with Morrie, The Drawer Boy, Deathtrap, The Glass Menagerie (Prime Stock co-production), Hedwig and the Angry Inch, It’s a Wonderful Life: The Live Radio Drama, My Name is Rachel Corrie and Bug among many others.
Additionally, they presented several special productions including Seth Rudestky’s Rhapsody in Seth, Deconstructing Broadway, Adam Pascal: In Concert, Miranda Sings! and Anthony Rapp: On Life, Love and the musical Rent.
“Personally, it doesn’t feel much like a brand new chapter – maybe an evolution? Publicly it might seem as though I’ve been away for a while, but keep in mind we produced a world premiere (Oral Fixations), a major co-production with Prime Stock (The Glass Menagerie) and completed work on two feature films (Year After Year; five AMPIA nominations including Best Feature Film; and Break On Through), both of which I wrote and produced.
“Now, we’re just circling back to seasonal programming, meaning we’ll be working a little more consistently in theatre and in a new space which will allow us to pay special attention to the work – exciting for me!”
Grue said Ignition Theatre approached CAT about the partnership.
“Given the cost of space rental in Red Deer, there was no way we could produce semi-professional theatre in this market (paid contracts) and pay rental fees that sometimes equated to one-third of our total budgets – there was absolutely no way of producing financially sustainable or responsible work,” he explained.
“Our only option was to engage in dialogue with a partner who appreciated what we could bring to the community and to a partnership and who understood what our constraints were and could work with us to find a middle ground/mutually beneficial way to move forward.
“CAT was immediately enthusiastic; both companies were honest and up front with one another and the agreement came together quite quickly and easily. Given how hard they have worked to stabilize themselves and grow their own programming and foster new relationships, they were beautifully gracious and welcomed us into the fold with open arms. I hope this serves as an example to the many arts organizations in our community that synergy and collaboration are they keys to infinite success.”
For CAT officials, the partnerships also marks an exciting new chapter.
“CAT is very pleased to be collaborating with another theatre company here in Red Deer,” said Craig Scott, president of CAT.
“As part of our mandate, we are to promote live theatre in Central Alberta. We look at this as an opportunity to provide our memberships a chance to explore greater opportunities to stretch their acting skill and more importantly, our audiences a chance for a more diverse theatrical experience.
“We look forward to working with Ignition Theatre this year and in the future,” he added.
Ignition Theatre programming, casting and ticket information for the 2017/2018 season will be announced in early September.
Grue added the new partnership will allow Ignition to thrive artistically in ways they haven’t always been afforded in the past.
“CAT isn’t involved in our programming choices, but have made their tremendous support clear to us – much like Ridge Enterprises and The Matchbox Foundation, working with a partner whose primary goal in your success in humbling and exciting in ways that are difficult to articulate with the weight and appreciation they deserve.”