Welcome to Luckyville

by EVAN MATTHEWS

A Robson Valley-based theatre company will improvise its finances a little bit less, as larger funding pots are recognizing its value.

Sharon Stearns runs a non-profit organization, Wishbone Theatre, an organization mandated to develop and produce plays reflecting and examining history and culture of the region. She is also the playwright.

A little bit of extra reflecting and examining of this valley’s history and culture is about to happen, as the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance (CKCA) in partner with Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) is contributing $10,000 to her cause.

“As a non-profit theatre company, it means a huge amount to receive this kind of support,” says Stearns. “It means somebody believes in us.”

CKCA administers and manages arts, culture and heritage program funding on behalf of the CBT.

Over 160 arts, culture and heritage projects have received a total of $706,000 in funding support for the 2016-17 season through the partnership.

“It’s always fantastic to see projects like these that make the Basin a culturally vibrant place to live,” says Lynda Lafleur, Community Relationship Manager, Columbia Basin Trust.

“We’re lucky to have many creative and hard-working Basin residents that continue to make our arts, culture and heritage sector thrive,” she says.

This is the first time Wishbone Theatre will have ever received major project funding, according to Stearns, but she says it’s exciting.

But more than being exciting, the added funding increases the value of the show, she says.

“I’m able to pay larger honorariums to my actors,” says Stearns. “It offers more incentive to them.”

Stearns says this installment won’t help her current project, Minnie and the Mob: A lawless cabaret, but it will help to fund a project she estimates as ready-to-go by March 2017.

The project is called Luckyville, and she calls it a full-scale theatre production. Rehearsals start in February, Stearns says.

“I’m the playwright on that.”

The synopsis, according to Stearns, goes like this: A local town outcast wins the biggest lottery in Canadian history, Valemount might be a little bit bigger than her town.

The town is economically depressed.

The play explores what happens when specific human emotions such as greed and revenge, all come into play as people start finding ways to manipulate her into spending her money.

“It explores what we can contribute to our community, and how much it comes into play when you have political unrest, or small-time politics that cause factions,” says Stearns.

“Kind of like what’s happening in Valemount right now,” she says.

In this particular play, Stearns says it focuses on gender issues.

In Shakespeare’s plays, men would play women and women would play men, she says, and often the two were used for lots of different comedic effect.

“We’re playing around with people, and characters, not being who they say they are,” says Stearns.

Other projects in the Valemount area receiving funding include Come Play in the Mud: Valemount Arts and Cultural Society with $820, The Art Bowman Photo Collection Exhibition: Valemount Historic Society with $1,170, and The Future Yellowhead: Art Carson with $2,500.

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