From a young age, Edmonton playwright Stewart Lemoine has been an avid viewer of plays. “I started as a theatre-goer in high school,” says Lemoine. “As a teenager I always loved going to things.” He earned an English degree in university, and was later encouraged to write plays for his actor friends. “Around the time I was trying to figure out what to do,” explains Lemoine, “the Fringe started, and suddenly it became possible to put on theatre all on your own… It was really a fortuitous thing that happened when I needed it to.”
He started Teatro La Quindicina with another friend in the early 80s, and has built up a strong repertoire of plays and regular actors, including Leona Brausen, Davina Stewart, and Jeff Haslam. All of Lemoine’s plays are comedies on some level because, he says, “comedies can have very serious and sad moments, but there’s always a comic twist because I think that reflects life.” More than a laugh, people who see a Teatro production can expect to expand their vocabulary. Lemoine says, “Our language is a good one; I like to use all of it.”
Teatro’s home, the Varscona Theatre, recently re-opened after a major rebuild. “It’s now a purpose-built theatre,” says Lemoine (who’s also general manager for the building), “as opposed to a converted building, as it was previously a fire hall.” Though everything is new except three brick walls, the theatre has a familiar feel because they built it from a similar floor plan. The auditorium seats more people in much comfier chairs, according to Lemoine, and the sightlines make more sense. He’s looking forward to how the new theatre will improve Die-Nasty’s annual Soap-A-Thon. He says, “It always tested the limits of the building before to have people there for that long.”
On top of the upcoming shows and rebuilt Varscona, the playwright’s excited for the future of theatre in this city. Lemoine says, “We’re constantly being fed new great young actors, and that’s endlessly stimulating.”
Don’t miss Lemoine’s upcoming play:
Witness to a Conga | September 29 – October 15
When a bride-to-be asks, “Should we have a conga line at our wedding?” she accidentally unearths her fiancé’s family secrets. A Fringe hit from 2010, this darkly funny play will connect with anyone who’s experienced a bit of family drama while planning a wedding.
Varscona Theatre | 10329-83 Ave. | 780-433-3399