When you hear or see the word champion we often envision someone, or some team, that has triumphed over their rival, like the Stanley Cup champions.
A champion, however, can also refer, as a verb, to someone who has taken up a cause and championed that cause for the betterment of others.
Such is the case for the first in our new series featuring those who have pursued championing the arts, and in particular in support of Theatre Network and its current capital campaign to build the New Roxy.
Nancy Power (1925 – 2019) was on our Board of Directors when one of her business companies purchased three of Edmonton’s movie theatres. In short time, the decision was made to sell two of the theatres, except for the Roxy. This Nancy donated to Theatre Network. Nancy served in many roles including board president and donor for many years and helped to ensure the growth and evolution of Theatre Network. We look forward to honouring her dedication to theatre Network by naming our largest performance venue The Nancy Power Theatre.
Nancy was a tireless advocate within politics and the arts. She worked for decades with the Liberal Party both locally and nationally and served her local community through the Highlands Community League and founded the Highlands Historical Society. She was active with the Board of Family Service Association and served on Canada’s National Capital Commission. She was a founder, board president and supporter of Theatre Network and served on Canada’s National Theatre School’s Board of Governors, efforts that led to the Sterling Award for “Outstanding Contribution to Theatre in Edmonton” in 2009 and, more importantly, an outsize impact on a field she loved and the practitioners she loved even more.
Debra has long been a champion of the arts and a long time supporter, both financially and through her volunteer efforts, of professional theatre. Edmonton born, Debra grew up with the concept instilled by her parents of giving back to the community, to play a part in making her City a better place. In Debra’s words, “I have been very fortunate throughout life and feel very strongly about supporting the arts. As to why she supports Theatre Network – “I enjoy how their plays can take me away for two hours, can transform my appreciation of life by presenting theatre that is edgy, that takes chances, and informs me about the society I live in, even if some of the messages are uncomfortable to deal with”.
Debra sees the capital campaign as an opportunity to rebuild an important City institution, to help improve the Westmount neighbourhood where the New Roxy will return in the months ahead.
We salute Debra and her continued support of Theatre Network; it is because of people like her that we will achieve our goal of rebuilding the New Roxy.
DOUGLAS OAKLEY & BETTY MCAFEE
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
When Theatre Network’s new Roxy Theatre rises on 124 Street again, this much is true: a great theatre will be built where great theatre will be staged.
It was in 1989 that the ROXY movie theatre became the full-time home for Theatre Network’s live theatre. It was also, if memory serves correctly, the year of the production of One Beautiful Evening, the show that hooked us into becoming Theatre Network fans. For us, it was one theatre adventure after another, some productions thought-provoking and challenging, some, comedic delights.
Over the years, by my count, that makes over 100 masterful productions that were eagerly attended.
With the fire in January 2015, the big bright yellow, long- lived and much loved ROXY sign was gone and 124 Street’s glimmer dimmed a bit. After a bit of “stage wrangling” courtesy of Edmonton’s generous and close-knit theatre community, Theatre Network, undaunted, settled into the Roxy on Gateway, the very hot venue with the very cool seating. Still, the award-winning productions kept coming and so did the audiences. All was good. Yay!
In June 2019, things got even better. Back on 124 Street, the ground-breaking for the new Roxy Theatre took place, heralding the construction of not one but two theatre spaces, generous lobbies, technologically advanced production capabilities, and even a grand washroom guaranteed to ‘wow’ everyone. The raising of the iconic ROXY sign again on 124 Street will announce the presence of a brand-spanking new home; the Theatre Network presence will remain the same, that of continuing to produce dynamic, important, insightful, and exciting live theatre in Edmonton.
Looking back at the many years of productions like Mump and Smoot, Thunderstick, Let the Light of Day Through, Armstrong’s War, Metis Mutt, it becomes obvious why wholehearted and unreserved support for Theatre Network and the Capital Campaign to rebuild the Roxy is so important. For those of us with the urge to see live theatre coursing through our veins, it is an honour.
Many of us can say we are proud Albertans but few of us, like Jacquie, can link their affection through family ties for this Province back to 1899.
You may have “met” Jacquie and not known it for she has served at our concession stand, especially on opening nights, since 1999. 20 consecutive years of volunteer service.
Jacquie credits Theatre Network for providing the “best live theatre around. The plays usually have an edge to them, and are on-point dealing with contemporary issues.”
A designer, a planner, and close to 2000 architectural and design projects to her resume, Jacquie has made this City better in appearance and structure through her efforts. This multi-talented and enthusiastic Roxy Theatre supporter is one of our Champions.
Neighbours! Those people, shops, and familiar spots that make our home base all the more comfortable.
The Roxy has been away from its home, neighbourhood base for close to five years – but we will be returning in the Spring of 2021.
One of the families who are relatively new to the Westmount neighbourhood has preceded our official return with a neighbourly welcome in their significant support for our capital campaign.
In addition to being donors, Colleen and Kyle Murray also hosted a gathering of fellow neighbours at their home (2018) to provide a forum for the Roxy staff to let the neighbours know about our plans to return to our true home base.
The Murrays are supporters of the arts and have supported our campaign because, in their words, “ the Roxy is important to our neighbourhood and we want to see it back in the Westmount community.”
The Murray’s appreciate the more intimate space that a smaller venue offers, and welcome the fact that the New Roxy will have two theatre spaces as well as a Rehearsal Hall for arts groups.
It is people like the Murray’s that will make our return to our home all the more significant – we appreciate their warm support for our theatre company.