Thursday, 27 April 2017

Guest Artist "Snapshot" - Daniel Fong

Daniel Fong makes his Rosebud Theatre debut playing various roles in this season’s ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’.  Best known for his work in the Calgary theatre scene, previous credits include: ‘Fortune Falls’ (Catalyst Theatre / ATP); ‘The Circle’ (ATP); ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (Theatre Calgary / Shakespeare by the Bow); ‘Twelfth Night’, DiVerseCity (The Shakespeare Company); ‘A Christmas Carol’ (Belfry Theatre);  ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ (Stage West for Kids); ‘Spring Awakening’ (Artists Collective Theatre); ‘Twelfth Night’ (Suspension of Disbelief); and ‘The Wasp’ (Ignite! 2013). Credits for Film / TV include: Fargo, Wynonna Earp, Mutant World, The Dorm, Forsaken, and Klondike. Daniel is a graduate of Grant MacEwan University Theatre Arts Program.
Daniel Fong in Rosebud Theatre's The Skin of our Teeth. Photo by Morris Ertman.
Where do you call home?
I call Calgary my home, I was born and raised there, however I did go to Edmonton for University!

What’s the city’s best kept secret?
All of the amazing food you can get Every day I am discovering a new restaurant that just blows me away!

What’s your favorite late night snack?
Popcorn from the movie theatre… nothing beats popcorn from the movie theatre.

“Must-have” morning ritual?
Taking the longest and hottest shower possible.

Coffee or Tea and how do you take it?
I don’t drink coffee and I only drink tea if I am sick! Otherwise I usually just drink as much water as I can.

You’ve done a fair amount of musicals, including the central role in ‘Fortune Falls’ this last October with Catalyst Theatre at ATP. What’s a story you’d like to see turned into a musical?
I don’t know if it’s a story per se, but I would love to see a Sci-fi musical of some kind that is done right! I think it’s a genre that hasn’t been explored (maybe for good reason) but I would love to see what it would be like!

Daniel Fong delivers a semi-apocalyptic singing telegram. Photo by Morris Ertman. 
In ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’ you play a number of roles, in a play that has layers of meaning. What’s something that’s resonated for you in the rehearsal process?
The biggest thing for me coming out of this show has been the understanding of how circular the tropes and habits of humanity are. We are constantly coming back to the same trials and problems of old, and yet for some reason we always see them as some brand new problem that has never been faced before.

Any unexpected moments or mishaps in rehearsal or performance?
Well, I can say, as embarrassed as I am about it, for the first time ever in rehearsal, I fell off the stage. But the biggest treat has been getting to watch all my castmates and learn from their acting and performances.

What’s your favorite way to fill your free time?
I am obsessed with board games and so lately I have been organizing games nights and playing as many different ones as I can get my hands on!

Lastly, what’s a piece of advice you hold close to your heart?
A teacher of mine in University game me a little card when I graduated, and on it was a quote that said,
“I do not live in a life-threatening profession, you will get through this.”

- And it has always been my saving thought when the business gets stressful.

It's no ordinary play! Come see Daniel Fong and host of characters navigate time and other natural disasters in ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’, playing on our Opera House Main-stage until June 3. For tickets and more information visit

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Founding Father: LaVerne Erickson

This week we talk with local phenomenon and founder, LaVerne Erickson.  LaVerne and his wife, Arlene live in Rosebud, Alberta, where LaVerne founded Rosebud School of the Arts and Rosebud Theatre. He also founded The Canadian Badlands Passion Play in Drumheller, the Canadian Badlands Performing Arts Summer School, and Chemainus Theatre Festival on Vancouver Island. He coined the name “Canadian Badlands” which has become an international tourism icon. In 2010, he was appointed Alberta Tourism Ambassador. He has been awarded honors in the fields of economic development and tourism, culture and arts, and was given a Legacy award as one of Alberta’s 100 outstanding citizens. As an educator he has taught at the elementary, secondary, college and university levels. As a planner he was worked with communities across Western Canada. As an artist, he has composed a great deal of choral music and his paintings hang in public and private collections. LaVerne is an artist, entrepreneur, and visionary, inspired by his love for God and people. In retirement he serves on the boards of a variety of organizations, champions rural development, and loves spending time with his grandchildren.

LaVerne and Arlene Erickson. 
Where did you grow up?
I was born into the homesteading community of North Star, Alberta, one hour north of Peace River. My childhood memories of homesteading life probably played an important role in my development. Then I lived in Edmonton, Rosebud, Lethbridge, Calgary, and returned to Rosebud in 1973.

Were your parents artistic?
My mother was a piano teacher and my father was a pastor who enjoyed woodworking and creating.

What’s your must-have morning ritual?
Morning prayer, scripture reading, and communion.

You’re an ideas man… with the rare ability to execute your visions. Where do these ideas come from and how do you know when you’re really on to something?
My ideas can be categorized as conceptual analysis, problem solving, perceived opportunities, and inspiration. An idea that is a mixture of the foregoing and is welcomed by people with whom I am in conversation gets explored further. Social interaction is often the matrix for the growth of something important.

You’re also a bit of a Renaissance man… and obviously have a passion for the arts. Do you have a favorite artistic expression?
Philosophy is my favorite discipline and aesthetics inform my enjoyment of all art forms.

LaVerne Erickson and his brother, Tim. Rosebud, 1982. Photo courtesy Harry Palmer.
When you dreamed about what Rosebud could be, what did you see?
A rose is God’s botanical love song, abounding in beauty, too soon fading, forever treasured. Its bud holds all the potential of the rose, protected by mothering thorns, rooted in the good earth and nurtured by spring. So it is with this little place called Rosebud. Rosebud mothered native civilizations, provided a community home for settlers, ranchers, farmers, dreamers, captured the imagination of Canada’s Group of Seven, and people of heart. I saw the nurturing potential of Rosebud that could blossom under the loving care of artistic gardeners and waft its fragrance on the wind.

Why Rosebud "Theatre", specifically?
My desire for Rosebud Theatre is for it to tell stories of significance that touch the heart.
Storytelling, like the rose, is woven into our human existence. Stories have been told for thousands of years at campfires in the Rosebud Valley. Theatre is Rosebud’s modern campfire for storytelling.

Why a tiny village in the middle of the prairie?
Rosebud requires one to intentionally travel far into the country to see this bud that blossoms anew every year.
Photo courtesy Bonita Hudson.
What’s something the Rosebud community might not know about you?
My introduction to Alberta political life was through Preston Manning’s invitations to sit with him in the Speaker’s Gallery at the Alberta Legislature while his father was premier.

What’s something people might not know about Rosebud?
The first staff members had to commit to three years of service and pay a deposit $3,000 to the staff association. The early staff shared much in common, including meals.

Is there a particular Rosebud production that has resonated with you over the years?
An Inspector Calls continues to strike me as an important social narrative.

You saw Rosebud Theatre’s latest production, ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’, on opening night. Was there a particular moment that that spoke to you?
I was struck not with a particular moment but with its many relevant insights into contemporary society. It was like watching a Far Side comic that continually delivered punch lines. I think this is one of the most important plays that Rosebud Theatre has presented. Its humour and poignancy are arresting.

LaVerne Erickson, center right, with the cast of The Skin of Our Teeth. 

‘The Skin of Our Teeth’ runs now through June 3. Read more about the story here. Or check out our website, for tickets, special events, discounts, and reviews!  

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Reviews for Skin are In!

The Skin of Our Teeth has opened on our 2017 MainStage and here's what critics and audience members have to say about this incomparable show!

The Skin of Our Teeth plays March 31 - June 3 at Rosebud Theatre. 

The Skin of Our Teeth Delicious Satire
Louis B. Hobson - Calgary Herald
"Its themes couldn't be more relevant... If you want to know why it is held in such esteem, just drive out and catch Morris Ertman's production of this allegorical comedy at Rosebud." 
"[Heather] Pattengale is a marvel of wit, irony, humour, manipulation, and seduction. She is her own tempest in a teapot.... [Declan] O'Reilly is a beautifully befuddled everyman with [Jeany] Van Meltebeke as a bastion of rigid common sense."

The Half-Step
Stephen Hunt
"The curtain rises on Rosebud's 2017 season with a truly epic production that's ambitious, occasionally bewildering, funny - and ultimately, quite moving." 
"Pattengale's Sabina is willful and funny, a charismatic dynamo... Sabina keeps the pedal to the metal, in a knockout of a performance by Pattengale, who seems to hit it out of the park in every single role she performs. She's matched by O'Reilly... a hugely sympathetic actor who runs the full emotional range, from paternal to scoundrel to fool, across the breadth of time - and somehow makes it all feel plausible." 
"And all of a sudden, you realize that underneath all of the end-of-times scenarios, The Skin of Our Teeth delivers one sure-fire truth that resonated across the stage and into the sold-out opera house Saturday afternoon: when all else is falling apart around you - including the planet - the only safe haven a person can really count on, is family."

The Strathmore Standard
Monique Massiah
"Be prepared to be confused, bamboozled, and have a good giggle when you watch Rosebud's production of Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth... [it's] a madcap wild ride."

'The Skin of Our Teeth' a Story of Hope
Sara Dreidger - The Brooks Bulletin
"Rosebud's charm is outdone only by its commitment to excellence...There is a beautiful chaos that emerges, leaving a profound impact on its audience. This is a story of hope - hope for society as a whole to seek the highest good together and to embrace our oneness as a human race."

And from our patrons...

"... One of the best plays I've seen in recent years. It's an honest reflection of the best and worst of humanity: our love, our hate, our ingenuity, our idiocy... it's all there. I felt it was performed with great passion, and I applaud the bold choice to mount this show. Fantastic work, everyone!"
Adam C. Schnell

"Congratulations to [Morris], your cast and crew for a brilliant evening of theatre. As you are aware, I have seen almost all of Rosebud Theatre's productions over the past 15 years and Skin of Our Teeth ranks one of the best, if not THE best production I have seen on the Rosebud Stage. Thank you so much...I've been thinking about it all week."
Kenna Ricard

"When my father died, my older brother offered a sermon about who God is not. It was a relevant topic considering the tragedy of the circumstance and the constellation of unanswered prayers. Although there are no cadavers or morticians, theatre is a lot like a funeral. People gather together for a purpose... to see, hear, feel and relate. If the production is of sufficient quality, attendees go away with unanswered questions. The unanswered questions are thought provoking.

...Like a painting by Monet or Pollock, [The Skin of Our Teeth] isn't a linear replication of a particular reality or storyline. Rather, it is an impression. Artistic impressions are challenging because there is no guaranteed transaction in terms of paying money to feel good. The Skin of Our Teeth is a two hour long, subjective (and brilliant) poem about the human condition. It is a superbly acted, Orwellian-like dystopia, that critiques human nature. It should be seen more than once." 
James Westgate Snell

'The Skin of Our Teeth' plays now through June 3. For tickets and information visit

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Behind the Seams: Costume Designer Robyn Ayles

Robyn Ayles is a theatre designer and educator currently teaching at Ambrose University and Red Deer College. Recent designs include set for 'Heathers: The Musical' (MacEwan University), costumes and set for 'Nativity in the City' (Fire Exit Theatre), costumes for 'Dr. Faustus' (Ambrose University), and set for 'The Winter's Tale' (The Shakespeare Company). She is a member of IATSE 212, CAnadian Institute for Theatre Technology, and Associated Designers of Canada.

The Antrobus Family, Act 2 set in the Swingin' Sixties. Photo by Morris Ertman.

Where do you call home?
I’ve lived in Okotoks for more than 25 years.

Tell us a little about yourself as a designer. How’d you get started in theatre?
I first got involved in theatre in high school in Vancouver, B.C. It turned out I loved backstage and behind-the-scenes work much more than I liked being on stage. I worked as a scenic carpenter for a few years before I went to the University of Alberta to do a degree in theatre design. I am a production designer, so I design sets, lights projections, and costumes.

How would you describe your process? Is there a best part / hardest part?
The hardest part is putting your pencil on the paper… or in my case, the stylus on the tablet. I love the research and I’m a terrible procrastinator. I could spend all day looking at period photographs or researching the politics surrounding Woodstock or the protests that accompanied the 1969 Miss America contest in Atlantic City… deadlines are my best friend.

Mrs. Antrobus, Act 1. Design by Robyn Ayles.
The Skin of Our Teeth is an epic show that transcends a specific time period, yet seems firmly rooted in certain mid 20th century American dynamics. How did you go about choosing the costume eras for an Ice Age, Flood, and aftermath of a major war?
The Skin of Our Teeth is such an intriguing play. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1943, but when I read the play the first act just screamed 1950’s. The relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus and their children seemed like a late 50’s sit-com like Father Knows Best or Leave it to Beaver

Gladys Antrobus, Act 1. Design by Robyn Ayles.
The second act was already pretty firmly in Morris’s mind as the late 1960’s and Woodstock. This really resonated for me, too, as did Mrs. Antrobus’s impassioned speech about women’s rights, which really foreshadows the women’s liberation movement and their activism against the Miss America contests in Atlantic City in 1968 and 1969. The third act for Thornton Wilder takes place both after the Napoleonic wars, for the Antrobus family and in modern day, for the actors in the play. The important situation is the aftermath of war, rather than the specific war. This play was first produced during WWII, between the attack on Pearl Harbor and the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. It’s important that we, the audience, understand that the human race and the family will survive; will scramble up from the ruins of war, of the apocalypse and begin to rebuild… to have some hope and some plan for the future.
I think time and place for Wilder in this play are fluid: Sabina tells us in the First Act “the author hasn’t made up his silly mind as to whether we’re all living back in caves or in New Jersey and that’s the way it is all the way through.” The catastrophic events are the important thing.

What resonates for you in the story?

I’m drawn to the women in this play: their relationships and their ability to survive. They struggle against each other, but ultimately it is they who come to terms with each other and keep the family together. I tried to reflect that a little in the Act 3 costumes; tying Sabina, Mrs. Antrobus, and Gladys together by shifting and mixing their colour palettes. I also see the fortune teller as Everywoman: a layered wise woman whose silhouette, line, and colour is reflected in the three female family members after the apocalypse. She’s the only character who seems to understand and accept the cyclical nature of the play, although perhaps Sabina is beginning to figure it out. Maybe the fortune teller is a version of Sabina from the future…

There’s a certain silliness to this often serious play. How do you factor humor into costume design?
Sometimes the funniest thing you can do is play it absolutely straight. These characters are all such perfect archetypes my task as a designer becomes finding the right costume archetype to support these characters. In Act 1, Mrs. Antrobus as the perfect housemaker, Gladys as the pony-tailed bobby-soxer, Henry as the disillusioned punk teenager. I also pulled in a little of the theme of the solar system. For me, Mrs. Antrobus represents the sun, Mr. Antrobus represents the earth, and the children are the stars and the moon… well, perhaps Henry is more of a black hole than a star… but that’s the general idea. It’s not something I really expect the audience to pick up on… it’s more an underlying structure that informed some of my decisions.

Mr. Antrobus, Act 3. Design by Robyn Ayles.
Do you have a favorite costume from the show?
Well, no. I’m fond of them all for different reasons… but I’d have to say my favorite character is Dolly [the dinosaur.] She was so patient at her fittings.
The puppeteers did such a wonderful job of bringing her to life. She’s a big beast to manipulate and it takes real team work to move her through the space of the house and the earth dias.
I guess if I had to choose a single favorite costume it would be Sabina, Act 3, in her blanket superhero cape.

Sabina, Act 3. Design by Robyn Ayles.
What’s some of the best advice you’ve received (or given) about design?
One of my university professors told us to ‘design the design approach’… or in other words, find a new way to approach every play. It’s a lovely ideal that I try to follow, not always successfully.

What’s currently inspiring you?
Every show I do seems to spark a new path for me. Right now I’m exploring images of New Mexico and the artists Georgia O’Keefe and Ansell Adams for An Almost Holy Picture. The best thing about research is getting side-tracked into new areas.

What’s next for you, and where?
I’m designing costumes and lighting/projections for Fire Exit Theatre’s production of An Almost Holy Picture that runs at Engineered Air Theatre in Calgary from April 26 -30.

An epic show calls for epic design! Catch Robyn Ayles's vivid and evocative costumes in Rosebud Theatre's 'The Skin of Our Teeth', playing now through June 3. For more information about the story, click here. For tickets and show information, visit