Wednesday, 25 May 2016 15:44

A lot of diverse performances, events coming to the Lyric

Written by  Joey Donnelly
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During the twenties and thirties, Chautauquas promised to bring the world to your door.

Families around the countryside flocked to tents pitched in parks and on the edges of prairie towns to see live theatre, listen to good music and hear a noted lecturer.
Jack Lundholm, the Lyric’s manager at the time, dreaded the summer Chautauqua, as he watched theatre seats empty in favour for the travelling road show that delivered education, inspiration, and entertainment to the adoring public.
Eventually, the Chautauqua circuits rolled to a close and the tents were folded for the last time during the height of the Great Depression.
Hollywood films at the Lyric ultimately triumphed, but the legacy of the prairie phenomenon lives on.
The modern Lyric presents the 9th annual Chautauqua, July 7-9 with a choice selection of four professional productions (indoors).
“Chautauqua is important for Swift Current because it enriches our arts and culture scene,” said Keely Williams, committee chair.
The festival opens with a Thursday matinée called Shangri-La. The play is set in small-town Saskatchewan one night in 1963; Jeanne McCate is hanging on for dear life in her own hilarious and heartfelt way.
Hip Hop Hoop Dance is an all-ages show that features Terrance Littletent and Chancz Perry who fuse First Nations hoop dance and hip hop.
Letters to West 113th tells the story of mentalist Jeff Newman, who re-imagines the pinnacle performance that shook the legendary Harry Houdini.
The final play, Shape of a Girl, is a powerful journey of a young woman as she struggles with a tragic murder.
“The great part is that Chautauqua is held in our historic Lyric Theatre building and it goes back to the Vaudeville heritage of that building,” Williams added.
Along with professional theatre troupes arriving for Chautauqua, most performances feature an opening act. Tickets are available at Pharmasave and more information is on our website.
Running on the theme of diversity, next week the Lyric presents Pride 2016 on Saturday, June 4.
The event begins with performances by Maverick High School students, followed by several renowned Regina drag performers. The night is capped off with dance music.
“Pride is really about visibility,” said Shaun Hanna, local businessman and Pride committee member. “In Swift Current, we really do have a large gay (or queer community) but it’s been so quiet for long. Anybody who is in the community knows that if they’re confronted with acts of homophobia, those tend to go away if someone knows someone who is gay because it humanizes them.”
Joey Donnelly is a news reporter for Golden West Radio, folklorist and Lyric board member.

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