Burnt Thicket Theatre is an independent company producing live and digital theatre that brings awareness to real issues in our community, planting seeds for positive social change.
We live and work on Treaty Six territory, and we are all Treaty People. Burnt Thicket Theatre works to honour the Indigenous spirit of the treaties, where treaty creates ties of kinship, of belonging together on the land, with commitments of reciprocity and mutual cooperation. So we work to collaborate respectfully with descendants of the original caretakers of these lands, and to participate in positive systemic change. This land is the traditional meeting ground and homeland of many First Nations, including the Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Nakoda, Lakota, and Dakota Nations, as well as the Homeland of the Métis Nation.
We are grateful for the opportunity to create and perform on this beautiful land that we share, understanding that this place has a rich, living history of Indigenous arts and culture. We’d like to encourage all of us to continue our learning journeys towards truth, reconciliation, and growing as peacemakers in our neighbourhoods and our nations.
Vision (our hoped for future)
A world of hopeful people who know their immeasurable value in the midst of brokenness and who work together towards a shared future marked by justice, equality and love.
Mission (why we do what we do)
To tell stories that kindle hopeful change in people’s lives.
Values (how we do it)
Community – We extend hospitality, foster mutual relationships, embrace diversity, and mentor emerging artists.
Respect – Acknowledging the humanity of all with openness and humility, we work towards reconciliation and justice.
Integrity – We strive to be genuine and accountable, stewarding resources sustainably, together pursuing quality, innovation and beauty.
Wholeness – Integrating spiritual, artistic, and restorative practices, we encourage wholeness through hope, healing, and transformation.
Mandate (what our members have directed us to do)
To create space for sacred encounters through the embodied act of storytelling, inviting audiences and artists to bear witness to the spiritual depth of our shared human experience.
We believe the art of theatre makes its own unique contributions to the common good through the roles it plays in human action—as an artistic act of oblation, as an act of co-creation, as a laboratory of human action, as a potentially transforming encounter with presence, and as a public space for incarnating story. By “common good” we mean the conditions that promote the flourishing of persons and of the relationships between people, and between communities in our world. Live theatre offers something unique to humanity.
We create theatre productions that offer audiences a work of art and a visceral immersion in another human being’s lived experience. That “walking in someone else’s shoes” is part of theatre’s power. When rendered with artistic integrity, theatre connects people to one another at a heart or gut level that transcends intellectual or aesthetic appreciation. Our productions are inspired by actual events and invite audiences and artists to reflect on their own lives, longings, and choices.
In 2007 Burnt Thicket Theatre was created in Calgary by founding artistic director James Popoff and current artistic director Stephen Waldschmidt. Our inaugural production HOCKEY DAD: A PLAY IN 3 PERIODS saw nearly fifty performances across western Canada, inviting audiences to family reconciliation. In producing the world premiere and cross-Canada tour of SHE HAS A NAME by Andrew Kooman, we moved people to join the work of abolishing modern-day slavery with performances in 13 cities from Halifax to Victoria. With our world premiere of WE ARE THE BODY by Andrew Kooman we called people to advocate for prisoners of conscience. EVERY BRILLIANT THING offered audiences a powerful comedy about depression, suicide and gratitude, with multiple tour presentations including Regina’s Globe Theatre, Saskatoon’s Live Five Theatre and Winterruption Festival, Calgary’s Fire Exit Theatre, and an 8 week run at Alberta’s Rosebud Theatre. With over 250 performances in 27 cities across Canada, we’re proud to call the vibrant arts centre of Saskatoon home. (Read more about the company’s transition to Saskatoon in 2017.)
Our productions are usually the fruit of assisting playwrights in birthing new works. Our script development can be likened to midwifery for new plays and may include commissioning funds, assistance in refining the story, workshop readings with an audience, and advocacy for a playwright’s new work. MY LITTLE PLASTIC JESUS by Tim Bratton is our most recent commissioned live world premiere, which will continue touring to living rooms across Canada in 2023 after being interrupted by the pandemic.
Since 2021 we created two original fiction podcast series. The first, TIED IN KNOTS presented 5 audio plays that embrace the challenges of marriage. Our second, WE TREATY PEOPLE, is now playing on all podcast platforms (and as a radio broadcast on CFCR), with 18 episodes of audio plays and interviews created by 49 artists exploring the question, “What does it mean to embrace all our relations?” In 2023 we produced the SK premiere of Krista Marushy’s award-winning play EVERGREEN, an intimate thriller which wrestles with loneliness, faith and the risks of love. We recently presented NEW BLOOD: A STORY OF RECONCILIATION, an epic story of healing from residential school trauma with dozens of performers blending the music of Peter Gabriel and Blackfoot tradition.
It’s never been more urgent to work to restore life in our world – global situations threaten human rights and the environment, Canada wrestles with how to follow the stirring call to truth and reconciliation, and so many in our communities feel isolated, to name just a few realities. Our original performances can move people to better understand one another and to live more intentionally for the common good. We believe this kind of theatre matters. And it only happens through the collaborative faith and effort of a host of artists, donors and supporters, far beyond our staff team .
Board of Directors
Carol Tebay, President Emeritus
Jessica Isaak, President
Grant Schroeder, Treasurer
Adam Bourassa, Secretary
Brendan Andrews, Member
Rod Schellenberg, Member
Becky Thomas, Member