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25th Street Theatre

Est. 1972

A group of University of Saskatchewan students established 25th Street Theatre as an artist collective in 1972.

 

They would go on to officially incorporate in 1974 becoming the first professional theatre company in Saskatoon.

As a producing theatre company, 25th Street Theatre became known for creating thought-provoking, new, Canadian plays that reflected the Saskatchewan experience. Among their most acclaimed plays were Jessica, Wolfboy, and Paper Wheat.

In 1989, 25th Street Theatre expanded its program offerings to include the Saskatoon Fringe Festival.

For over 30 years, the Saskatoon Fringe has been a culture landmark of Saskatoon supporting the creation of new work and artists who seek to work outside the traditional Canadian regional theatre model. As a member of the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals (CAFF), the Saskatoon Fringe is a part of an international network of Fringe Festivals which provides a platform for artists from around the world to travel across the country sharing their stories.

In 1999, due to financial constraints, 25th Street Theatre made the difficult decision to no longer produce their own shows. The organization chose to focus their efforts on the thriving Saskatoon Fringe Festival instead. Things carried on this way for 25th Street Theatre for over ten years, but then things changed.

In 2020, 25th Street Theatre experienced two things for the first time:

1) the COVID-19 pandemic forced the first ever cancelation of the Saskatoon Fringe Festival

2) 25th Street Theatre received the largest financial gift in the organization’s history from Robert Steane.

The Festival was a combination of digital theatrical offerings, recorded panel discussions, small in person performances, children’s mini day camps, and community building projects. There were over 90 artists who participated in the Festival, and in a difficult time, received compensation for their work regardless of the viewership.

As a result of these two occurrences, 25th Street Theatre created This is NOT That (TINT) Festival in the summer of 2020.

While the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions continue to complicate the traditional way of making theatre, 25th Street Theatre has repeatedly proven for nearly fifty years that the organization is adaptable and resourceful. 25th Street Theatre is a vital part of Saskatoon’s vibrant cultural landscape.

As a result of these two occurrences, 25th Street Theatre created This is NOT That (TINT) Festival in the summer of 2020.

The Festival was a combination of digital theatrical offerings, recorded panel discussions, small in person performances, children’s mini day camps, and community building projects. There were over 90 artists who participated in the Festival, and in a difficult time, received compensation for their work regardless of the viewership.

While the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions continue to complicate the traditional way of making theatre, 25th Street Theatre has repeatedly proven for nearly fifty years that the organization is adaptable and resourceful. 25th Street Theatre is a vital part of Saskatoon’s vibrant cultural landscape.

Watch the NFB Documentary on Paper Wheat   

Listen to the YXE Underground Podcast on the History of 25th Street Theatre  

Read Our Kind of Work: The Difficult Time of 25th Street Theatre by Dwayne Brenna  

Learn More about The Robert Steane Legacy Gift  

Staff

Anita Smith (she/her) – Artistic & Executive Director

At the age of 16, Anita Smith began her career as a director, actor, producer, and arts administrator. Frustrated by the lack of access to the arts in her rural community, she created the SmallTown Drama Festival, annually bringing rural students together to share their productions. This early work laid the foundation for what would become a dynamic career and resulted in her receiving the YWCA Young Woman of Distinction Award. Anita then created the non-profit theatre company, Drama Queen Productions, which toured the province for seven years performing for thousands of young people. A passionate feminist, she directed the all-female presentation of J. Caesar at Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan in 2016 marking the first time the company achieved gender parity in casting, a legacy that continues. As a founding member of Ferre Play Theatre whose inaugural production of The Penelopiad received numerous SATAwards, she is most proud of the industry-first childcare subsidy offered by the company. During the COVID-19 pandemic, as the Executive Director of 25th Street Theatre, she created the This is NOT That Festival which employed over 90 theatre artists. Also during the pandemic, as the Artistic Producer of Saskatoon Summer Players, she successfully produced a fully-staged, live-streamed musical becoming the first in the province to attempt this challenging exercise. Anita is passionate about improving theatre practices in Saskatchewan.

Jensine Emeline (they/them) – Executive Assistant

Jensine (they/them) is a theatre designer and stage manager from Saskatoon and an alumnus from the U of S drama department. Recent stage management credits include: “The Fourth Wise Man”; “With Glowing Hearts”; “Blow Wind” (Dancing Sky Theatre), “Blow Wind” (Station Arts Center), and “Girl in the Box” (Scantily Glad Theatre/Live Five). Recent costume designs include: “With Glowing Hearts” (Dancing Sky Theatre), “The Penelopiad” (Ferre Play Theatre), and “Girl in the Box” (Scantily Glad Theatre/Live Five). Jensine is honoured to have been awarded Saskatoon & Area Theatre Awards for Outstanding Costume Design for “The Penelopiad”, and Outstanding Emerging Artist in 2020. Jensine is endlessly grateful for their mentors and friends, the guidance and support they have been given, and to be able to work in and share their passion for the arts and community in Saskatchewan.

Philippa Williams (she/they) – Community Outreach & Outdoor Festival Manager

Philippa (she/they) crash landed in Saskatchewan a decade ago after growing up in England and Egypt. The queer theatre artist has picked up a wealth of volunteer community theatre experience (and winter clothing) in the years since. Phil has been fortunate enough to be involved in a wide range of projects, with recent credits including production manager for The Addams Family (Saskatoon Summer Players) and Scenic Illustrator for Into The Woods (SSP), as well as performing with Floor Thirteen Films, Pplrppl Productions, Persephone Youth Tour, and SSP. Although most of their theatre work has revolved around performance, a peek at their resume would tell a different story. With a professional background as a bio-scientist working in environmentalism and ecotourism, Phil hopes to aid 25th Street Theatre in achieving its goals for a more sustainable future. Phil is passionate about building safer and more ethical labour practices within the theatre community, to ensure that workers are valued as much as their work. They also intend to highlight the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-training in theatre.

To get in touch with our staff, e-mail info@25thstreettheatre.org.

Board

As a registered non-profit in the province of Saskatchewan, 25th Street Theatre is overseen by an elected board of volunteer directors who are caretakers of the organization.

Greg Burroughs - Chair

Greg Burroughs was raised in Saskatchewan and graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Science.

Upon returning to Saskatoon, after living in British Columbia and Nicaragua, he volunteered in various Saskatoon community organizations.  He was an avid supporter of the Saskatoon Fringe Festival and those experiences led him to joining 25th Street Theatre’s board in 2014 and have been the Chair since 2020.

Greg is a strong believer in the importance of the arts to reflect, inform and entertain our society and is excited about the future of this organization.

Matthew Stefanson - Secretary

Matthew Stefanson was born and raised in Saskatoon. After some years away earning a BFA in Painting and Drawing from Concordia, he returned to work with The Broadway Theatre, where he was the Rentals Manager for several years. He is currently a Realtor with Realty Executives in Saskatoon, but continues to be a supporter of arts and culture in Saskatoon. 

He has sat on the board of 25th Street Theatre Inc for 3 years and currently serves as Secretary.

Wes Gramiak - Treasurer

Wes is employed at Veterans Affairs Canada after retiring from a rewarding 31 year career with the Canadian Armed Forces.  His interest in performing arts was fostered during his years volunteering in various capacities with the Saskatoon Fringe beginning in 2002.  He joined the Board of Directors in 2019 and is presently the Treasurer of 25th Street Theatre. 

He gained valuable board governance experience by serving in a variety of positions up to President with the boards of the Central Saskatchewan Military Family Resource Centre (2004 – 2011) and Greystone Community Association (2006-2014).  His focus is on community engagement, governance, and fiduciary responsibility.

He has earned two degrees from the University of Saskatchewan: Bachelor of Arts (History) and Bachelor of Education.  He is the recipient of the Saskatchewan Centennial medal and Saskatchewan Protective Services medal.

Jennifer Nairn - Member at Large

Jennifer Nairn has been a teacher with Saskatoon Public Schools since 2006, and has a passion for both teaching and the arts. As an enthusiastic supporter of theatre in Saskatoon she has directed many school plays, taught theatre classes at Persephone and is now a proud member of the 25th Street Theatre board. 

Jennifer strongly believes in the positive influence theatre can have on youth and that the arts are such an important piece in a young person’s education. 

Jennifer grew up in small town Saskatchewan where her love of theatre and the arts was born. She then moved to Saskatoon to attend the University of Saskatchewan, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts with a major in English and her Bachelor of Education, and has lived here ever since. 

Clarissa Kostiuk - Member at Large

Clarissa has been involved in the theatre community, primarily as an educator, since 2013 after finishing two years as an acting major at the University of Saskatchewan prior to going into the College of Education completing her Bachelor of Education Degree. Clarissa spent many years teaching with Persephone Theatre and now works for Saskatoon Public School Division teaching drama and musical theatre classes as well as coaching competitive improv and directing her school’s musical production.  

Clarissa holds a Post Degree Certificate in Special Education from the University of Saskatchewan. Through this certificate, she focused her many research projects on the impact of arts on youth with exceptionalities, specifically on the positive impact performing arts can have on youth mental health. Clarissa’s passion for theatre education is rooted in the way it can positively impact a young person’s life. 

Clarissa grew up in Saskatoon and became involved with theatre in high school. Her involvement in the theatre community here has continued to grow ever since and she is excited for the opportunity to sit on the 25th Street Theatre Board. 

If you are interested in joining the Board of 25th Street Theatre, please complete the application attached here, and a representative will be in touch.

To speak directly with a Board Member, email board@25thstreettheatre.org.