Out on the street
An absence between Second and Fourth Street S.W. in Mission provided the poetic inspiration for the name of the newest entrant to the theatre scene, Third Street Theatre, which is being billed as “Calgary’s queer theatre company.”
Mission’s missing “third street” is also a metaphor for the queer community, an often invisible minority. Third Street co-founder and artistic director Paul Welch resides in this phantom locale (his address is in the 300 block, though there is no corresponding street running through). Coincidentally, his creative partner and the company’s artistic producer, Jonathan Brower, has a similar non-existent “third street” address in Elboya.
Brower and Welch decided to create the company after discussing their experiences as members of the queer community. For Welch, that included being insulted and pushed around by strangers; for Brower, it meant facing a negative backlash after coming out in his church community.
Brower says the theatre’s mandate is to provide “authentic and artful representation of queer content.”
“We want to facilitate art that exposes past and present attitudes towards queer culture,” he adds. “…[and] to create an open discourse about what it means to be queer.”
In other words, Brower says, Third Street wants to steer clear of presenting any work that reinforces simple stereotypes.
“We want a real representation of what’s happening in queer peoples’ lives,” he explains, saying that flamboyant gay characters in shows like The Producers do not offer “a full representation of the queer voices in our community.”
However, the venture is not meant to cater exclusively to a gay and lesbian audience. “All people share these experiences about exploring sexuality, faith and what it means to be human,” Brower says.
Third Street Theatre is not Calgary’s first queer theatre company. Previously, Calgary was home to Teatro Berdache, headed up by Steve Gin.
“It’s kind of like a passing of the torch,” says Brower, noting that he and Welch have been consulting with Gin.
Their first project is the formation of a queer theatre creation ensemble. Brower and Welch are accepting applications from artists who are “interested in an exploration of current issues pertaining to queer individuals and/or the queer community.” The deadline for application is September 15.
Over the course of six months, the ensemble will create a work that Third Street Theatre will present in March as its inaugural offering.
They are also hosting a queer playwriting competition — the deadline to submit work is February 1, 2013. The winning entry will receive a workshop and staged reading as Third Street’s second event of its season.
And, to finish off the 2012-13 season, Third Street will present a production in the Motel theatre.
For more information, visit thirdstreet.ca