ACWB is Center Stage with Theatre; Just Because

Featured in August 2017 edition of snapd Wood Buffalo

From humble beginnings, Theatre; Just Because (TJB) has evolved into a theatrical sanctuary and group of passionate community members, who share resources to develop local talent, encourage a safe space to try something new, and create community collaborations that benefit more than just themselves. The evolution from a name created by Michelle Thorne and Danna-Rae Evasiuk to perform under in the Alberta Drama Festival Association in 2014 to an established community theatre group has taken time, risk, community support, and a passion to share the love of theatre with whomever wants to try their hand at stage performance.

With every organization comes hard decisions and change, and TJB is no different. In the past year Michelle Thorne has made the hard and exciting move to pursue her passion to acquire a Masters of Directing from the University of British Columbia, passing on the title of Artistic Director for TJB to the talented performing artist Justin Shaw. Originally from Prince Edward Island, Justin was trained as an actor at the National Theatre School of Canada in Montréal. In addition to overseeing TJB, Justin also works as the Events and Marketing Program Coordinator for Some Other Solutions. Justin hopes to share his knowledge and training in performance arts and his experience as a writer with the arts community, to continue the work Michelle has developed with TJB, and create opportunities for new projects to develop. “I really hope to raise the bar of what we, as theatre artists, can achieve in this community through a balance of risk-taking, and honouring our support,” he says.

Justin will be focusing on three core projects for the upcoming season, and will be assisted by newly appointed Project Manager, Diana Moser. The first project is programming for Alberta Culture days in partnership with the Suncor Energy Centre for the Performing Arts and will include two workshops: “Improv for Actors” and “Theatre Sports for Young Actors.” During the same weekend, TJB will be participating in the One Act Wonders event at Keyano Theatre. TJB is also currently in the beginning stages of organizing the annual dinner theatre fundraiser in partnership with and in support of Waypoints. With the overwhelming success of the past two years, TJB is excited to be involved with the February 2018 event again, especially with a new director at the helm – Diana Moser. “I am very excited to work with her,” he says, “I think the public deserves to know how dedicated and ambitious she is working on this project.” The third core project is the play production series, once again focusing on youth, in partnership with SECPA. It will be an adaptation of a Shakespeare classic with a local twist: “A Kid’s Summer Nights Dream”. Justin’s goal is for the casts, artistic teams, and crews to feel empowered during the creative process. “I want every artist I work with to be proud of what they achieve from working on our productions and I believe that if the people on stage are having fun, the audience will a well.”

TJB is very proud that their work has been recognized among their peers – Michelle Thorne and Theatre; Just Because were recipients of 2016 Excellence in Arts Awards in the categories of Theatre and Community Collaboration. The 2017 Arts Awards nominations are now open and ACWB encourages community members to nominate an artist, arts group or organization that is dedicated to their artistic discipline or has had an impact in the arts community! Artists are also encouraged to nominate themselves. To view nomination guidelines and application form visit bit.ly/WB-Excellence-In-Arts-Awards.