Look Inside: 6 Questions with Shannon Blanchet

on Friday, 30 December 2016. Posted in Latest News


Known affectionally to us as Elmira, Shannon Blanchet is a valued member of Edmonton’s theatre community and one of our favourite collaborators. She has toured the world with us for Nevermore, and we were over the moon when she accepted a part in Fortune Falls. Here are six quick questions with the  amazing Shannon.

Who do you play in Fortune Falls and how do you help to tell the story? 

I play a variety of roles in Fortune Falls (saying too much about any one character feels like giving the secrets away!).  In addition to working as a part of the ensemble of narrators who provide a “birds eye” or “outside” view to the story, I play Miriam Mesner, who is one of the people that suffers a great loss when Mercey Chocolate decides to close the Fortune Falls Plant.  I think her interaction with Everett awakens him (and the audience) to a notion of corporate collateral damage. I hope she invites the audience to question and reflect on how the corporate pursuit of constant growth, and the choices that people make in the interests of increasing the company’s bottom line can have a deep impact on the community at large, and not just the people who work within the industry.  You don’t have to work in the auto industry to be affected by the decline of American vehicle manufacturing if you live (or lived) in Detroit, for example.  I think the more “peripheral” characters bring this theme to the fore by forcing Everett to confront the realities of the system.  They pull the veil on his dream and reveal it to be a naive, sugar-coated vision of the world.

What do you find the most intriguing part of the world of Fortune Falls?

The blurred line between dream and waking, fantasy and reality.  What is fact and what is illusion? 

This is your second time performing in a Catalyst show. What did you learn from doing Nevermore that you’ve been able to bring with you into Fortune Falls? 

Nevermore was one of the most fulfilling projects I could ever hope to work on and was a large part of my life for six years.  I learned a lot about my voice over the course of those runs–musical passages that were challenging at the beginning of the project got easier over time as I learned to navigate them with more dexterity and as I gained freedom in the technical execution of the music, it freed up my mind to delve deeper into how the music was helping to tell the story (i.e  What about the sound of this word sung in this way reflects my character’s experience?).  The most important thing I am bringing with me to Fortune Falls is a trust in and love of the work and the ensemble.  The strength and bond of the ensemble is essential to Catalyst’s storytelling.  We work together to tell the story so much; it is vital that everyone has an equal belief in and commitment to the project. I love seeing what can be achieved when a team shares a strong and ambitious vision-it makes the impossible possible, and that is a very rewarding thing to be a part of.  I packed a lot more joy in my suitcase for the trip to Fortune Falls!

How do you think Fortune Falls will surprise audiences?

I think they will be surprised at how Fortune Falls differs in tone from other Catalyst pieces while maintaining the aesthetic and stylistic sensibilities that have become the company’s hallmark.  It’s definitely a lighter, more youthful piece than Nevermore, for example.  

You have a lot of experience with Catalyst, and have travelled a lot with the company. Do you have a favourite moment?

On Stage: July 6, 2010. The Barbican Theatre. Opening night.  The blackout between the end of the show and the curtain call.  


What’s your favourite Canadian play? (Or top three if one is too hard).

That’s such a hard question to answer that I am going to pretend I didn’t see it …

Look Inside: 7 Questions With Beth Graham

on Tuesday, 25 October 2016. Posted in Latest News


Beth Graham is one of Canada’s most prolific playwrights, actors, and a long time collaborator with Catalyst. When she’s not hitting the stage with us in shows like Nevermore, Hunchback and The Blue Orphan she’s busy performing and writing for stages across the country. Most recently Beth received national attention for her award winning play The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble, which premièred at Factory Theatre (with Obsidian Theatre), was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and received the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award.

As the co-writer of other award winning plays, such as The Drowning Girls, Beth is no stranger to collaborating with another playwright. So when Artistic Director Jonathan Christenson asked her to come on board as a co-writer for Fortune Falls, Beth was ready for the challenge.


What do you find the most intriguing part of the world of Fortune Falls?
The townspeople that make up Fortune Falls have been really fun to write. There’s so much to mine in the everyday lives of these characters.


Explain to us how being a co-writer works? We assume you don’t type on the same keyboard at the same time?
We talk. We each generate a megaton of writing. We assemble it. We talk some more. We each write a megaton more. Slowly, it builds and comes together. Jonathan is the lead creative so he has the final say and puts together the rehearsal draft. We talk about it as he builds that. Lots of back and forth.


How does your creative relationship with Jonathan change as you transition from an actor to a co-writer?
I don’t know! I guess I get to see how his mind works from a different angle. Every time you work with someone your relationship deepens. There was already a lot of trust and respect before we began and I feel like we’ve always been able to talk openly with each other. He’s a very collaborative director whether you’re working with him as an actor or as a writer.


How do you think Fortune Falls will surprise audiences?
I think it’s surprising because it’s hard to define- in a good way. I think and hope it will be unlike anything they’ve seen before- an original!


You have a lot of experience with Catalyst, and have travelled a lot with the company. Do you have a favourite moment?
There are a ton of favourite moments… If I had to choose one I think it was after we opened Nevermore at the Barbican. We had four hours of tech which was such madness. It seemed an impossible feat but the ensemble was so tight. We were flying by the seat of our pants for the whole show but we knew that if our pants ripped there was someone who was going to catch us. When we took our bows at the end of the show I didn’t know whether to faint or scream my head off. I was so relieved and elated. Talk about an adrenalin rush!


What’s your favourite Canadian play? (Or top three if one is too hard).
I’ve always loved Les Belles Soeurs and The Glace Bay Miner’s Museum. Recently, I loved reading The History of Breathing by Daniel Macdonald.


Favourite kind of chocolate?
I loooove macaroons! Chocolate and coconut = scrumptious!


A little self promotion: what else do you have going on this season that audiences may like to check out?
I’m acting in A Christmas Carol coming up at the Citadel.

Jonathan Christenson Shortlisted for The Siminovitch Prize

on Monday, 3 October 2016. Posted in Latest News
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Jonathan Christenson

Catalyst Theatre is thrilled that Artistic Director Jonathan Christenson has been announced as a finalist for the 2016 Siminovitch Prize. The internationally-recognized and honoured award shines a spotlight on excellence and innovation in Canadian Theatre with an annual prize worth $100,000. Over a three-year cycle, the prize recognizes a professional director, playwright, or designer as a leader in national theatre whose work is transformative and influential. The prize also recognizes the importance of mentorship to support emerging talent. The recipient receives $75,000 and in turn, chooses a protégé to receive $25,000. This year’s prize will be awarded to a director on Friday, October 28 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

“To be shortlisted for this prestigious award is truly extraordinary,” exclaims Mr. Christenson. “It’s an amazing gift, at this point in my career, to have my own creative journey and the body of work I’ve been developing recognized in this way.”

Jonathan Christenson is a director, writer and composer who has spearheaded the creation of 22 original Canadian productions, many of which have had an international reach. He has directed in more than 85 theatres across Canada, the UK, Australia, and the United States including in London’s West End, and New York’s Broadway district. His work has been recognized with more than 100 awards and nominations, including a Lucille Lortel nomination for Outstanding New Musical of the 2015 Off-Broadway season. His plays have been published by Playwrights Canada Press, Newest Press, and Bayeaux Arts. Recordings of his music can be found on iTunes and at Broadway Records, and his productions are featured in American Theatre, Maclean’s, CTR, and PRISM International. He was named one of “Alberta’s Fifty Most Influential People” by Venture Magazine, and Alberta Playwrights Network chose him as one of Alberta’s one hundred most significant theatre artists of the past one hundred years.

Since 1996 Mr. Christenson has led Catalyst Theatre’s creative teams to increasing national and international acclaim. It is his bold, imaginative, and utterly distinctive vision as a director and theatre creator that has earned him a spot on the list of five finalists for Canada’s leading prize in theatre.

Canada’s Catalyst Theatre creates bold, distinctive and highly theatrical productions – ‘Made-In-Edmonton’ work that is presented across Canada and around the world. The company’s core creative team strives for the unexpected, seeking out innovative ways to tell powerful stories through the inventive and playful use of evocative music, haunting sound, poetic text, dynamic choreography and stunning & surreal design.

Catalyst multi-award-winning productions have been presented by London’s Barbican Theatre (BITE) and the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT), The New Victory Theater and New World Stages (New York), Canadian Stage and the Luminato Festival (Toronto), Theatre Calgary, Vertigo Theatre, the High Performance Rodeo (Calgary), Vancouver Playhouse, the PuSH Festival, the Arts Club Theatre and The Cultch (Vancouver), The Traverse Theatre (Edinburgh), The Tron Theatre (Glasgow), The Playhouse (Liverpool), Magnetic North Theatre Festival (Ottawa), The Citadel Theatre (Edmonton), Persephone Theatre (Saskatoon), Le Carrefour International du Théatre (Québec), Keyano Theatre (Fort McMurray), and the Yukon Arts Centre (Whitehorse).

Catalyst Theatre’s creative and administrative home is the 702-seat Maclab Theatre in the Citadel Theatre complex in the Heart of Edmonton’s downtown Arts District, where they have recently celebrated a $1.2 million renovation.

Catalyst Theatre is currently in Calgary developing their newest work, Fortune Falls, conceived and directed by Jonathan Christenson. This co-production with Calgary’s Alberta Theatre Projects will have its world premiere at the Martha Cohen Theatre on October 21 and runs until November 5. Fortune Falls hits Catalyst Theatre’s home stage in Edmonton, January 17 to February 5, 2017, presented in association with the Citadel Theatre.

For more information on the Siminovitch Prize please visit their website. For a list of the nominees and jury, click here.

For more information and tickets to Fortune Falls in Calgary with Alberta Theatre Projects. 

For more information and tickets to Fortune Falls in Edmonton and ticket info click here.


Media Contact for Catalyst Theatre: Joshua Semchuk, Bottom Line Productions
P: 7809750864 | E:

Media Contact for Alberta Theatre Projects: Ashley Meller, Director of Marketing and Communications
P: 5878942257 | E:
Joshua Semchuk
Project Manager
Bottom Line Productions Inc.
10515 111 St NW
Edmonton, AB
T5H 3E8

P: 7809750864

New Office Construction Underway!

on Tuesday, 19 July 2016. Posted in Latest News

Or new office under construction. Construction on our new office space has begun on the north side of the Maclab Theatre lobby! But that’s not all! Also underway as part of our $1.2 million project is an upgrade to the lobby itself and a facelift for the Maclab Theatre. Get ready for a clean, elegant and modern feel for this beautiful theatre.

We can’t say enough about the excellent collaboration and partnership on this project from the entire staff at the CITADEL THEATRE and the project teams at DIALOG DESIGN and LEDCOR.

This project is funded by:
THE CITY OF EDMONTON (Community Facility Partner Capital Grant program); and
THE GOVERNMENT OF ALBERTA (Community Facility Enhancement Program).

On behalf of the Citadel Theatre and Catalyst we also gratefully acknowledge the generous support of MACLAB ENTERPRISES for the theatre upgrades.

The Maclab Theatre under construction.


on Tuesday, 12 April 2016. Posted in Latest News

Season Announcement

Catalyst Theatre announces its 2016 – 2017 season, featuring the launch of its newest work, Fortune Falls, a forty-five performance / three-city tour of the company’s powerful rock musical Vigilante, and partnerships with five outstanding theatres across the country.


Catalyst’s newest creation, Fortune Falls, will premiere in Calgary produced by Alberta Theatre Projects. In the New Year Catalyst will bring the production home to Edmonton, where Fortune Falls will be presented in a Catalyst /Citadel partnership.

Calgary, AB October 18 to November 5, 2016
Martha Cohen Theatre
Produced and presented by Alberta Theatre Projects

Edmonton, AB January 17 to February 5, 2017
Maclab Theatre
Produced by Catalyst Theatre, presented in a Catalyst/Citadel partnership
Written, directed and composed by Jonathan Christenson, Fortune Falls is the allegorical tale of the rise, fall and reinvention of a prosperous town, once home to the world’s largest candy factory. One shocking day the factory is closed, leaving one lonely man to guard the abandoned factory and a community to contemplate endings and new beginnings.


Vigilante, initially developed at Keyano Theatre (Fort McMurray) and premiered in March of 2015 as a Citadel Theatre commission, will travel to three Canadian cities. The Grand Theatre in London, Ontario, presents Vigilante as a special add-on to its Main Stage season following which Catalyst will make its third visit to Persephone Theatre’s Main Stage series in Saskatoon’s. The Vigilante tour culminates at Canada’s National Arts Centre in Ottawa as part of the NAC English Theatre Series.

London, ON February 7 to 11, 2017
The Grand Theatre
Presented by the Grand Theatre

Saskatoon, SK March 1 to 15, 2017
Remai Arts Centre
Presented by Persephone Theatre

Ottawa, ON March 29 to April 15, 2017
National Arts Centre Theatre
Presented by the National Arts Centre English Theatre


Catalyst Theatre acknowledges the generous support of The Canada Council for the Arts and The Alberta Foundation for the Arts (Cultural Relations Program) for the 2017 Vigilante tour.

The season will be capped with Catalyst’s legendary madcap fundraiser, Over the Edge With 4 Play.

Edmonton, AB April 28, 2017
Westbury Theatre, ATB Arts Barns

Catalyst Theatre gratefully acknowledges ongoing support of the Canada Council for the Arts, The Alberta Foundation for the Arts, The City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Arts Council.


Friday April 28, 2017
ATB Financial Arts Barns
Doors at 9PM, Show 9:30


4 brand new Canadian plays made in just 12 hours.
Join 4 playwrights, 4 directors, 4 actors and 4 designers as they set the stage on fire during our infamous fundraising extravaganza!

Sponsor an artist by contacting us today. Or get single tickets here.