For 50 years the University of Victoria’s Department of Theatre and Phoenix Theatre have been cultivating and unleashing an incredible array of talented, passionate performers and crew, whose reach is felt far beyond the borders of Victoria’s theatre community.
Part of the 50th anniversary celebrations involves bringing back these far-flung stars of stage for a reunion weekend, including an alumni dinner.
“We have generations of alumni,” said Adrienne Holierhoek, marketing and communications manager.“We have people who have graduated and had kids, and sometimes they’ve married other Phoenix alumni, and their kids are now here, or graduated from here.”
Alumni are also coming back to perform, and the normal quota of one alumni performer per season has been expanded to three, with returning performers presenting five different shows over three weeks, from October 11-29.
Charles Ross, known for his One Man Star Wars show, will be performing his “nerd trilogy,” one man performances of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and The Dark Knight. Fringe star TJ Dawe, also known for writing a play that later became The F Word, a movie with Daniel Radcliffe, will be performing The Slipknot, an autobiographical piece about dead-end service jobs.
The third performance will see the return of Shannan Calcutt, who has spent the past 10 years in Las Vegas performing with Cirque du Soleil. Her performance will see her alter-ego clown Izzy try to spark her romantic life with a series of blind dates.
Holierhoek said all of the alumni who are coming to either perform or attend the festivities are excited to reconnect with their peers and the community Phoenix Theatre has created over the past 50 years.
“When we talk to our alumni they say things like ‘this is where I really found out where I was as a person and an artist,’” Holierhoek said. “This is where they found themselves.”
Its reach may be far, but the local influence and importance of the department and Phoenix Theatre can’t be overstated, Holierhoek said. Local live theatre was scarce at the time of its inception and since then the creation of The Belfry Theatre, Atomic Vaudeville, Theatre Inconnu, the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Society, the Fringe Festival and Intrepid Theatre, SNAFU dance theatre, Giggling Iguana, Theatre SKAM and more have all involved UVic theatre alumni.
“The nature of theatre in this community is built on our alumni, and that’s kind of amazing,” Holierhoek said. “They’ve made the community richer in that way, which is nice.”
To round out this special season, Fran Gebhard is directing her favourite show ever, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, in November and Linda Hardy, a long time faculty member, is directing a classic political satire, The Inspector, in March. In February, a MFA directing student project called Gut Girls, about women who work in a Victorian-era slaughterhouse, will hit the stage.
Learn more about the history of Phoenix Theatre and its 50th anniversary season at finearts. uvic.ca/theatre/50th/.