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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 15, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta Festival Continued from Page 4 Such a misfortune was the evening that at tbe next Play- goers' meeting, a letter was read from Mrs. Eldia Christian- son of Stirling, disavowing that tfae play "Dregs" was in fact the production of the Stirling Little Theatre, though the Ma- jestic playbill proved it so. Moreover, it was insisted that Solon E. Low who bad acted in "Dregs" was not a member of the Stirling Little Theatre. A dear case of outraged artistic sensibility! Solon E. Low later made another more recognized claim to fame as a national leader of the Social Credit party. There were other problems. The Theatrical Stage Employ- ees Union threatened the group with a black listing because they did not use union help for stage hands. The reason was purely financial, and the threat was of no consequence. The Playgoers' decision of 1935, that they would not pay obligatory royalties for their plays unless they were billed for them, caused some concern in the following year. Samuel French, the theatrical publish- ers, discovered that the Play- goers owed them as the royalty fee for two perform- ance of the "Middle Watch." Af- ter months oE harassment, Sam- uel French was forced to settle for a payment of and the Playgoers assumed the cost of the legal fees. Candies During this time the club members began the practice of selling home-made candies at the performances to off set costs. It was a. short practice because the noise of the paper bags that held these refresh- ments proved a dlsasterous dis- traction for the actors and stage crew. Paper cups in substitu- tion soon made tfrese profits more quiet. The search for a place to per- form was a constant anxiety. The club often rented the Ma- jestic Theatre but considered as well the RCMP Mess Hall which was located where the TJvic Centre now stands, and a building named "McKay's During tJhe Second World War, Playgoers' continued and expanded their audiences to in- clude the servicemen in the Lethbridgs district who attended the allied flying schools. With the fifties, the theatre group achieved a new distinc- tion. "Arsenic and Old Lace" directed by Dr. B. Wayne Mat- kin was a popular production in 1951. In 1953 the group put on "Night Must Fall" and hosted the Alberta regional festival. John Allen, the adjudicator, praised them for their high standard. Internal troubles beset the in 1955 and 56. The chief bone of contention that worried the organizations into dissent- Ing factions was the choice of a Bieatre. Some members favored the Capitol Theatre, but others who considered the high rental costs, preferred a cheaper lo- cation like a local school audl- torium. With some loss of mem- bership the club came eventu- ally to an agreement, and pro- duced "Harvey" at Wilson Ju- nior High school in March, 1956. This play was particularly note- worthy because It was the de- but for Sandy McCallum who later left 'Sz Lethbridge Play- goers' to pursue an profession- al acting career with the Ty- rone Guthrie Theatre in Minne- sota. If the fifties tad ten a of promise far the group, then the sixties was (be time feat saw them achieve some nation- al attention. In the regional fin- als of '57, '58 and '59 the Play- "goers watched Medicine Hat and Coaldale clubs reap the awards. "Gently Does It" in 1960, however, earned five awards for the Playgoers at that fftimiai regional festival. In 1962, the Playgoers pro- gressed beyond the regional finals to the Dominion Drama Festival in Winnipeg with their entry of "The Dark at the Top of the Stairs" directed by De- nise Black. In spite of their cultural aims, the Playgoers did not forget their Western nature. Such was the case in 1963 when the group was the host for a three-act play- festival. Esse W. L. Jungh, the national super- visor of drama for the CBC, arrived in Lethbridge to adju- dicate the festival He was greeted at the airport by the brewery stagecoach, and drove shot-gun into Lethbridge with a Stetson added to his Eastern gear. Awards The 1963 festival was also Im- portant because of the presence of Mr. Sterndale-Bennett who had come from Toronto to par- ticipate in the prize-giving. It was a historic moment as he awarded Coaldale Little Thea- tre with the best play prize which would enable the group to compete with the best ama- teur theatre in Canada at the national festival The production of "Therese" in 1965 bought the group five May IS, .wards in the ngwl Baals, two in "Chinook" was a special tri- umph since one of the awards was of a special Centennial capacity, for the best original Canadian play. This casti award of was given to Bill son. THE LETHBMDCE HERALD S In spite of ;