Kathy McIntyre starred in Western Edge Theatre’s inaugural production, Supreme Dream, in 2003. This month the local theatre company begins its 15th season. (Photo courtesy Frank Moher)

Kathy McIntyre starred in Western Edge Theatre’s inaugural production, Supreme Dream, in 2003. This month the local theatre company begins its 15th season. (Photo courtesy Frank Moher)

Nanaimo’s Western Edge Theatre begins 15th season

Mainstage and staged readings series both start this month

There have been times over the past 15 years when Frank Moher thought Western Edge Theatre might have to shut down for good, but each time the local theatre company faced a challenge, it managed to pull through.

“Early in its history, I think about two, three years in, we didn’t really have enough money to continue so I kind of went, ‘OK, well I guess that’s it. That was a fun three years.’ But then some funding came through and we quickly threw together a season,” said Moher, Western Edge executive producer and founding member.

Moher said it was important to him that the group survive because it offered the kind of programming “that wouldn’t exist otherwise” in the area.

“I always thought it was really important to have a theatre in the community that was consistently supporting artists from this community and not just giving them opportunities to work, but paying them to do so,” he said.

He was partly inspired to create Western Edge after directing a play for the Yellow Point Drama Group and was struck by the energy and skill of the local performers.

“I thought if you could put together sort of a combination of some of the structures that support professional theatre with the energy and creativity that supports community theatre … that would be the ideal theatre for this area.”

That model has proved a success. This year Western Edge marks its 15th anniversary. Artistic director Brian March has been with Western Edge since its inaugural season.

He said the theatre group’s following is also responsible for its longevity.

“There’s an audience out there. I think we’ve proved that through the years,” he said. “We’ve actually worked out of some pretty grungy buildings where roofs were leaking and the air quality wasn’t that great and yet people would still come. They would still come to see that type of theatre because they weren’t able to see it anywhere else locally.”

March said Western Edge has come a long way since those early days. He said he’s happy to have been involved with the group since the beginning and see it grow over the past decade and a half.

“At least now we have a fairly stable venue in the Harbour City Theatre and we’re happy to be in there, people are comfortable in there now watching shows, so it’s been quite a journey,” he said.

Western Edge’s 2018-19 season begins on Oct. 13 with its Plays and Pie staged reading series presentation of A Skull in Connemara, by British-Irish playwright, screenwriter and director Martin McDonagh. On Oct. 26 the mainstage series begins with the debut of Extended Wings by local playwright and director Michael Armstrong and on Nov. 17 Western Edge presents its murder mystery dinner theatre fundraiser Murder is No Jive. Cick here for tickets and more information.



arts@nanaimobulletin.com

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