When we consider the performing arts, it’s common to picture passive audience members sitting down and watching a performance unfold on a stage. That’s certainly a huge component of what we do at the Fredericton Playhouse, but we also go beyond the stage to offer more participatory experiences in which our patrons can play an active role.
Each season the Playhouse presents a program called Experience More! This series of innovative workshops and activities is presented in conjunction with our Spotlight Series, and is an opportunity for audience members to have a more enriching performing arts experience through hands on participation.
We aim to provide events that will appeal to a wide range of interests and abilities, and while there is a nominal fee for some activities, we also have offerings that cost little or no money. Many of these activities are offered at venues outside of the Playhouse, within our community, and we relish the opportunity to connect and partner with other organizations.
This season, in addition to master classes for trained dancers, we’re looking forward to providing a number of dance workshops open to participants of all different skill levels, ranging from a Bollywood dance class open to everyone, to a ballet masterclass for experienced dancers.
One of the best ways to enhance a dance or theatre performance is to hear from the creator of the piece, which is why ticketholders will be invited to attend post-show conversations with actors, creators and artistic directors following a number of performances in the Spotlight Series this season. These moderated discussions are an opportunity for audience members to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the artists’ background and motivations.
We like to include food and wine events in our Experience More! programming, to help create the feeling of a complete evening out, during which participants can immerse themselves in the culture of the performance they’re attending. We’re excited to offer a traditional Newfoundland dinner prior to a performance by Newfoundland-based folk trio The Once, as one example, which should lead to a lively night of food and entertainment.
This series also offers opportunities for local performers to highlight their talents and hone their skills. We can’t wait to see country music fans participate in our Hank Williams Open Mic this fall. Later in the season, local singer-songwriters will have a fabulous opportunity to sign up for a Songwriters Workshop, led by acclaimed singer-songwriter Stephen Fearing.
We’re pleased to give our audience the chance to play a direct role in certain performances, such as with Vancouver-based dance group Out Innerspace’s performance titled Major Motion Picture. Interested participants can leave a message on a Digital Graffiti Wall using infrared technology, which will later be incorporated on stage in the Playhouse performance.
These are just a few of the 16 activities we have planned for the season. Some of them have limited space, and I would encourage you to contact our box office to pre-register.
Aside from our Experience More! programming, we were pleased to once again participate in Doors Open Fredericton on Sept. 25. We offered guests a closer look at our front of house, backstage and catwalk areas, as well as an on-stage technical demonstration of lighting and sound, followed by a special performance.
This annual activity was a chance to show the public how we make the magic happen on stage, while also exploring the Playhouse’s history, and how our present-day operations work.
Becoming an active participant is a great way to meet new people and learn something new, all while enhancing your performing arts experiences at the Playhouse.
Tim Yerxa is the Executive Director of the Fredericton Playhouse.