Monday, 21 October 2013

Announcing our 2014 Season!

Artwork by MarushyDesign

It’s Anne Frank that states that “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” Rosebud is a place that thrives on that optimistic point of view. It permeates even our goofiest comedic offering - the musical Chickens. There’s a song where a timid chicken dares to sing about flying. Optimism! We’re bringing C.S. Lewis together with Sigmund Freud this season, so we can unpack two of the 20th Century’s most dynamic thinkers and their very contrary beliefs about what makes a human being tick. Even a play called Doubt holds the possibility of redemption. And then we end the season with a brand new musical version of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - imaginatively staged  Rosebud style - that will transport you and your family to a wintry Narnia at Christmas, a place where four children follow their destiny toward great goodness. 
Those of you who buy Season’s Tickets to Rosebud Theatre get first dibs on our Rosebud Presents series, which brings a delightfully eclectic collection of music, story and comedy to our valley. Please join us in 2014. We’ll serve you a meal, point you to our gallery and shops, and show you to your seat in what promises to be our most dynamic season yet!  

- Morris

For more information, or to purchase season tickets, visit

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Tim Dixon talks about Our Town

“This play is called Our Town.” 

These words open Thornton Wilder’s play, currently running at the Rosebud Theatre Opera House. The production itself, however, is an echo, and a mirror image, of the Our Town that is Rosebud, Alberta. I’m a guest artist in the production, and I’ve been mulling over my experience of the play and the town. Here are some of my thoughts, muddled as they may be.

I came here thanks in part to Rosebud Theatre’s artistic director Morris Ertman, a long time friend and theatre colleague. For some time he’s wanted me to return to the stage, as well as to come perform in Rosebud. He offered me the role of Simon Stimson in Our Town, and I accepted gratefully.

Stimson is the outsider in Our Town. A church choir director who can’t seem to push his choir up to his musical standards. An alcoholic who’s “seen a peck of trouble” about which we never learn the details. A man whose feelings lead him to an irreversible decision about his life.

The most we ever learn about Stimson is from the town doctor, Frank Gibbs, who says, “I guess I know more about Simon Stimson’s affairs than anybody in this town. Some people ain’t made for small town life.” As the actor portraying Stimson, part of my job in rehearsal was to reconstruct the history that led Dr. Gibbs to that conclusion. I won’t go into that history—every actor who’s played the role has created his own—but one thing is clear: he’s in this place, but not part of it.

Of all the possible reasons why Thornton Wilder chose to put such a dark and troubled character like Simon Stimson into a play like Our Town, I believe one of them is to make him the voice of the dispossessed, the excluded, those for whom life held more promise than it delivered to those around them. Stimson is there to trouble the insiders. In fact, Wilder gives him a final speech that, while a warning to all of us, is also a cry on behalf of all outsiders. It is as poignant as Mrs. Loman’s plea in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, and in a sense carries the same message: “Attention must be paid.”

At one time or another in our lives, we’ve all been outsiders. Maybe it was at a wedding of a distant cousin, or at a college in a remote city. We’ve all watched the joy and camaraderie around us with a mixture of emotions. We’ve wondered: When will I be included? Will I ever be? Do I even want to be? The impulse is either to hasten the process of inclusion, or to flee back to a former place of inclusion. We want to feel at home, or go home.

These thoughts came to me as I attended the ROSAs, the graduation ceremony for people completing four years of training at the Rosebud School of the Arts, and the awards ceremony for students with exemplary achievements. I came because I was invited, but also because of an outsider’s curiosity.

My experience was the polar opposite of Stimson’s. Some of the cast members from Our Town were joining the Rosebud School of the Arts Guild after completing their studies, and a number of others I’d met here were also receiving awards. Some of what I saw at the ceremony and banquet didn’t have great meaning for me, but I could see how much meaning it had for them. 

As the presentation went on, I heard tributes that told me more about these highly talented people, but it had been my privilege to experience only a tiny fraction of their talent first-hand. Warm-blooded icebergs. 

My feelings were still like that of an outsider, but took on a different flavour. It was as if somehow I had always lived in Rosebud, but had been in a coma for many years and had missed all of the moments that led to this day. 

Unlike Stimson, I realized I’m an outsider with an insider’s pass. Not only at the ROSAs, but every day since I’d arrived, I had met the people that call this place Our Town; given them a wave as I passed them on the street; shared a laugh with them; and learned about their trials and triumphs.

Several people told me how glad they were that I had come to the ceremony. Even though it was a momentous day in their lives, they still took the time to say that to someone who would be leaving in a few weeks, and might not return for a long time, if ever. 

No matter, they seemed to be saying. Now that you’re here, you’ll always be here, no matter how long you’re gone. Your role may turn out to be small in the play of our lives, but it’s an important role, and the play wouldn’t be the same without you. After all…

This play is called Our Town.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Our Town and Hope

We’ve just finished the first week of rehearsals for Our Town by Thornton Wilder. It’s a play I’ve wanted to produce for 35 years now, having set out to do exactly that as a young director at the beginning of his life in the theatre. What is it about this play that takes hold of me? Why does it matter? 
On the first day of rehearsal, we talked about the play’s relevance to Rosebud, to the modern world and more. We talked about the fact that Thornton Wilder somehow found language for the unique place each one of us holds in our blink of a lifetime. And his conclusions are so open-ended, so wonderfully human. Our Town is a celebratory play that finds it’s inspiration in the everyday that holds us in common. It is so deftly written, filled with searing revelations that we've all had in those moments where we've opened our eyes to the drama of our lives.
The story, like most of ours, is simple. Two families live side by side in a small town in New Hampshire called Grovers Corners. A boy and a girl grow up side by side and get married. The play moves through the most important seasons of life - the growing up, the falling in love and the dying. And the story is told by the middle-aged, the young and the wise - each generation holding a different often humorous point of view, colliding into the lives of the couple of kids at the centre of the story. The wonder of it is that everybody’s story can be found in the pages of the script. That’s maybe why this play is one of the theatre’s greatest classics - produced over and over again. It’s astonishingly simple, a prophetic observation of the richness of our lives. Every life has drama. 
In that first read, I shared something I had written some time ago that seemed to resonate with the spirit of this simple, yet richly dramatic play. I’d like to share it with you in the hope that it would give you a sense of how this particular play resonates with this particular director’s heart.


We were coming back from the mountains in August, the whole family having grabbed the only two whole days to be together. I was listening to an album of instrumental hymns - Softly and Tenderly was playing as we drove past farms and homes along the highway. It was so surreal. I had this sense that life was simply a glimpse, an insignificant hiccup in eternity. We passed old farm houses, falling apart, their windows broken out, the siding aged into brown and gray, trees growing through the roofs. We passed cemeteries with fresh mounds as well as old headstones, churches that had only aging adherents coming to them, fields that had been cleared by people of my Dad’s generation. As the car sped past all of these images, they blurred, as blinks of an eye  whose sight is impaired by a growing teardrop. It was as if I could see it all, see the present within the context of eternity, spinning past us like so many light year moments, rushing into space. All of those homesteads built by enterprising young couples building a future are now the past. And not even a hundred years have passed. This country is so young. 
It’s so strange to be caught in that blur, realizing that the present is the past in a heartbeat - in a failed heartbeat... 

There’s a Neil Young song called Comes A Time, with a lyric “This old world keeps spinning round. It’s a wonder tall trees aint laying down.” Well. They are laying down - hundreds and thousands of them on forest floors, their sapling to mature lives finished - now dilapidated, rotting ruins returning to the earth. And others are the siding in those old dilapidated farmhouses, or the pickets in those leaning unpainted fences held up by overgrown rose bushes, new saplings growing in their decaying structures.
There comes a time when one realizes that all of this present is just life, and it’s all really only about living and loving. Thousands of souls living and loving, planting gardens in the spring, trimming rose bushes and collecting berries in the summer, raking leaves in the fall, waiting for spring while keeping warm in winter. And, if they are blessed, they get to do it with someone. They get to share it with people they love more than life - with children who live from the fruits of their labor, with a lover whose face never tires to the sight, with parents whose lives continue to engage. 
I am struck by the fact that we spend most of our lives creating some kind of heaven, some kind of momentary bliss, be it a meal, a garden, a newly painted room, a new pair of shoes. We spend our lives making the act of sustenance mean something, last longer. 

I wonder whether that is ultimately God’s greatest pleasure, his reason for everything. I wonder whether the world was meant to be a place where love released in ordinary acts becomes the biosphere God sees from heaven, the safety that holds life in place, propagating, writing, celebrating, singing, holding and more. And maybe that’s all we are in the end, the sum total of our love, holding the world together, even when we’ve left it. Maybe that’s all humanity adds up to. A cloud of protective soul’s love surrounding a jewel in the universe. 

So I live in hope that love incarnate will actually make a difference in the lives we touch ... the thing that is eternal, forever, the breath of life itself. And if God is love, then maybe he really is. And maybe there really is a place where love floats in some transcendent cloud of individuals, able to touch and taste and hear and see that the Lord is good, that life is eternal, that we are outside of time. 

I hope. 

Morris Ertman

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Rave Review for Rosebud!

Photo by Kelsey Krogman

We thought we'd bring this forward, since Nathan can't exactly do it himself.  It's a fantastic and thoughtful review of our Studio Stage production of "Underneath the Lintel: An Impressive Display of Lovely Evidences", written by Glen Berger, directed by Paul Muir, and showcasing Nathan Schmidt.  

The show runs through August 24 and has been regularly selling out.  Take a listen and get your tickets fast!