Lunchbox Theatre and United Active Living have signed a partnership that will bring special talks and a full production, complete with sets and costumes into United’s Fish Creek community.
“We have many successful partnerships that promotes United’s philosophy to promote creative expression in all of its forms,” said United’s music director Jill LaForty. “We’re always looking to broaden our offerings to meet our residents’ interests. Teaming with Lunchbox Theatre was a natural step given that some of our residents already attend their productions. Now, with this partnership, we can bring professional theatre directly to those who find it more difficult to go out.”
Lunchbox To Go is a relatively new program for Lunchbox Theatre that focuses on bringing theatre into older adult communities and to community centres. “The program is an opportunity to promote theatre in the larger community,” said Valmai Goggin, development associate with Lunchbox Theatre. “We pick one of our shows that is performed in our theatre downtown and take it on tour. This year it was Miss Caledonia by Melody Johnson. The touring version is about 80% of the theatre version, including sets and costumes. We don’t take the lighting with us because each venue is so different.”
“I have never seen our Fish Creek theatre as full as when Miss Caledonia came to us in April,” recalls Jill. “Our residents were absolutely captivated and their enthusiastic response signalled we were on the right track in pursuing this partnership.”
“I’ve been going to Lunchbox since it started in 1975,” said Garrison Green resident Joyce Doolittle, who is a recent recipient of the Order of Canada for her work in Calgary theatre. “It’s a wonderful place for young playwrights and for actors at the beginning of their careers. Having the plays come here is a good thing as not everyone can get out, and you can always count on the quality of the productions.”
An in-house production isn’t the only way that aspects of the theatre will be brought to United residents. “We’re also delighted that as part of this partnership, members of Lunchbox’s artistic team will come into our communities at least three times this season,” added Jill. “They’ll give our residents back stories and added insight into current productions before some of them head out to see the shows.”
Lunchbox Theatre is located at the base of the Calgary Tower. It has been running noon-hour plays – usually one-act plays written by Calgary playwrights – for more than 40 years, and is considered to be one of the most successful and longest running noon-hour theatre companies in the world.
“We think that as many people as possible should have access to the performing arts,” said Valmai. “People can’t often come downtown, so the more we can diversify and bring theatre into the community, the more we will connect with older adults and the more our theatre productions will resonate with them.”
Next year’s visiting production for United residents – Gutenberg! The Musical! by Scott Brown and Anthony King – will tour in the spring, from April 23 to May 5.
Photos by: Benjamin Laird
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To learn more about life at United’s Fish Creek community, watch this short video.