Crazy train theatre: Year 1.5

Happy New Year! It is natural in January to think back on the on the previous year, reflect on the preciousness of family and friends, think about accomplishments and try to learn lessons from mistakes made. So while my column usually profiles other artists in the community, I have decided this month I will write about my own experience during one crazy, cool - at times frustrating - but mostly inspirational year of theatre.

When I think back on my year professionally it feels like really three years in one. Actually to be accurate, I formed New Vintage Theatre a year and a half ago. Back in August of 2012 I was a new resident of Kelowna and after having a lovely experience with Playhouse 25 in the play Waiting For The Parade, I decided it would be a good idea to try to start a small, professional theatre company, but honestly I didn’t have too many people that agreed with me. Friends, while supportive, thought the notion of paying artists to act in plays seemed like a pipe dream. Others thought it wouldn’t work because I wouldn’t get enough interest. I also had those who said that I sounded greedy, that they did theatre “for the love of it”, not for the money - as if those who had a job in theatre should always see it as only a hobby.

I did run a theatre company for 10 years back in Calgary, but I had to agree Kelowna is a different, smaller city so it was at best an “experiment”. It was one that I wished to explore, though. Selfishly I wanted to be able to work more in Kelowna and have to travel less to Calgary, spending time away from my husband and sons. I also really wanted to find a tribe of serious artists here in the city that wanted to work in the same way as I had throughout my career. I started by offering an acting class and play readings in September of 2012 and things have gone from there.

New Vintage Theatre did not stay “I” for long - we now have a strong board of directors, over 100 members, offer monthly play readings through a partnership with Pulp Fiction Coffeehouse, many classes and workshops in acting and playwriting and have done several private performances. We have also proudly produced four of our own plays - Super 8, Calendar Girls, Rebecca and A Christmas Carol - all since January 2013. To date we have contracted and paid over 60 artists and paid many vendors for products, expertise and space in order to make our productions happen. We have also had many supporters and sponsors that have helped us achieve success in a very short period of time. This is generosity and community mindedness that you could only find in a city like Kelowna and this would be foreign in a larger centre.

This accomplishment makes me immensely proud, excited and inspired. Twice in newspaper interviews I have been asked, “Why on earth do you think you can do this?” I guess I don’t just think I can do this - I know now we will continue to do this because there is a team of people that want to see this happen. Call me a glass half full kind of a person, but I have no reason to believe otherwise.

So our crazy theatre train that people ran with and hopped on board is now mapping out its route and establishing its destinations. I am in for the long run.

New Vintage Theatre’s next show is The Black Cat Cabaret on Feb.21 & 22 at The Black Box Theatre at 7:30pm. Advance tickets are $20 and are available at www.selectyourtickets.com or $25 at the door on show nights. Hope you can join us for the launch of our second season and for an evening of amazing music, scenes and more by New Vintage artists. Wear black and get ready for fun. For more about us, check out www.newvintage.ca



This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

Bonnie Gratz is an actor, director, and playwright. She is the Artistic Director of Kelowna's New Vintage Theatre, and a member of the Playwright's Guild of Canada and The Literary and Dramaturges of North America. 

For more on Bonnie, check out www.bonnie-gratz.com or check out www.newvintage.ca

Contact Bonnie at:  [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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