Squamish’s Between Shifts Theatre Society has faced many challenges, but nothing appears to be able to stop the little theatre community that could.
Despite obstacles such as the lack of a proper venue for theatre, the rising cost of living in Squamish driving people away, and a global pandemic shutting down live performance arts for nearly two years, Between Shifts is growing with new theatre classes and a full fall season right around the corner.
“We’ve got a huge season this year, bigger than we’ve ever launched before by a long shot,” said local actress and one of Between Shift’s directors, Amy Reid.
In previous years, the theatre society has put on two to three productions a year. This year, in conjunction with various projects on the go, Reid says they are doing seven theatre productions for the coming fall and winter.
Included in the fall schedule this 2022 season is The Chair Series, an evening of monologues written by local playwright John McGie.
That hits the Eagle Eye stage for the first time Sept. 23 and 24. The series runs three times throughout the upcoming season.
“He’s an incredibly talented, twisted and bizarre writer,” Reid said. “You give him one word and he writes a monologue. You have no idea what it’s going to be.”
Reid says that the actors involved are never able to see each other’s performances until the night of. “You have eight actors on the stage and nothing but a chair in the centre.”
“Some of them are hilarious and some of them are super heartbreaking and some of them are just bizarre. And kind of a roller coaster of a night,” said Reid.
Following that is Dead Man’s Cell Phone which runs from Oct. 19 to 29. “It’s kind of a quirky look at the way that we communicate with each other and relationships,” Reid said. “It’s a really fun sort of nutty production.”
Between Nov. 30 and Dec. 10, Between Shifts will run its Christmas show.
“We have ‘Blustery Ever After.’ which is the sequel to our Once Upon A Coldsnap, which we did last year [and is] written by a local writer Katherine Fawcett. She’s a really, really cool local writer," said Reid.
In the spring, Between Shifts will also have their festival show from March 29 to April 8, entitled Three Tall Women by Edward Albee.
Lastly, running from May 24 to May 27 is Take Five: A Series of One Acts, which Reid says is “partially written by local writers and partially published works.”
Theatre learning hub
Last spring, Between Shifts launched The Studio, a theatre learning hub currently offering acting classes for people of all ages. “One of our biggest changes of the year is that we’ve extended into education,” said Reid.
“We started The Studio in the spring. We had some really full classes and we also had a fair amount of interest from adults that want to start doing some acting classes, which currently is not offered at all in Squamish,” Reid said.
The Studio plans to continue expanding with more theatre and acting classes in other areas, such as stagecraft. Reid said that they are working on creating courses to match those needs for those looking to go into the field professionally.
“We’re hoping...that we’re going to be able to develop [current programming] into some performance-based classes where we’ll be able to learn for the first part of the class and rehearse and perform full-stage productions by the end of the season.”
Reid said that the theatre society is looking for more instructors to help fill out the program as they continue to branch out. Experts in make-up, costume design, technical design, and sound are a few of the roles they seek to fill over time as they expand into the learning centre they envision.
However, finding and keeping a theatre community in Squamish is a challenge that remains a barrier to expansion. “One of our greatest challenges as an organization is, over the last few years with the rising cost of living in Squamish, there’s been a lot of our old members have moved away,” Reid said. “We’ve lost a lot of really great talent both onstage and off.”
Though obstacles continue to persist, Reid says that they are always trying to find ways to make theatre in Squamish more accessible to anyone interested.
“We have lots of scholarship opportunities. We don’t want income to ever be a barrier for anyone looking for education.”
As for lasting impacts of the pandemic on audiences and the theatre industry as a whole, Reid says that although everything has opened up at full capacity again, people are still wary.
“I think people are a bit nervous to be in those kind of close confines even still,” she said. “I think we’re going through a bit of a collective PTSD.”
The counter to that is also that people are craving public events, she said.
For more on the theatre company and upcoming shows, go to betweenshiftstheatre.com.
Editor's note: Amy Reid works for The Squamish Chief in the sales department, a position she recently took on.