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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 Glory Days and Difficult Times of 25th Street Theatre by Dwayne Brenna  

Learn More about The Robert Steane Legacy Gift  

Staff

Anita Smith (she/her) - Artistic & Executive Director
Anita (she/her) is an actor, director, producer, and mother who is also the Artistic & Executive Director of 25th Street Theatre.  An active member of the Saskatoon theatre community, Anita is proud to have directed J. CaesarAs You Like It (Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan); The Birds and the Bees, and The Invisible Girl (Persephone Theatre).  She appeared in The Revolutionists, Boeing Boeing, Trout Stanley, Quick Bright Things (Persephone Theatre); Fruitcake (25th Street Theatre); The Penelopiad (Ferre Play Theatre); Twelfth NightThe Winter’s Tale, and Love’s Labour’s Lost (Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan) among others.  A passionate feminist, Anita is a founding member of Ferre Play Theatre whose productions of The Penelopiad and Breaking the Curse received a combined seven SATAwards.  Anita is proud to be a recipient of the YWCA Young Woman of Distinction Award and a recipient of the SATAward for Excellence in Leadership.  
 
Upcoming: Directing the premiere production of The Art of French Cooking by Madeleine Blais-Dahlem for 25th Street Theatre
Philippa Williams (they/she) - Community Relations Manager & Outdoor Festival Manager

Phil (they/she) is an actor/scenic painter/production manager/theatre rat who grew up in England and Egypt. Some say they left home after the stress of Brexit greyed their hair. Others say they’re being denied Canadian citizenship due to a disinterest in poutine. But almost everyone agrees that they “need a real winter jacket”. Phil is best known for their time as General Manager of Saskatoon Summer Players, as well as their performances in The Rocky Horror Show, Avenue Q (Pplrppl Productions); Sweeney Todd, Into The Woods (Saskatoon Summer Players). Above all else, she is passionate about building better theatre practices, where every worker is valued as much as their work. It’s a value she knows Anita equally shares and is one of the many reasons she loves working at 25th Street Theatre.

Katie Blackburn-Dust (she/they) - Co-Interim Projects & Operations Manager

Katie Blackburn-Dust (she/her) is an emerging theatre artist living and working on Treaty 6 territory. She holds a BFA in Acting from the University of Saskatchewan, though loves to wear many hats in theatre – including lighting design and stage management. Recent projects include: The Herd, Stones in his Pockets (Lighting Apprentice – Persephone Theatre), A Winter’s Tale: Season of Light (Lighting Designer – Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Site Lighting), Jonas and Barry in the Home, Jack and the End of the World, and The Curst (Stage Manager – Dancing Sky Theatre). Catch Katie’s work as a lighting designer this summer with Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan’s As You Like It. When not in or around the theatre, you can find Katie obsessing over some Star Trek or somewhere on a horse. She is thrilled to be back at 25th Street Theatre for the 2023 Fringe and can’t wait to work with the coolest volunteers around. See you at the Fringe!

Drew Mantyka (he/him) - Co-Interim Projects & Operations Manager

Drew Mantyka (He/Him) is a Saskatoon based actor, director, playwright, physical theatre creator, and producer. Drew is also the Co-founder of Saskatoon theatre company Wonder City Collective and is the president of Live Five Independent Theatre. Drew is delighted to be doing anything related to theatre, working in the world that fills his soul. When not doing theatre Drew can be found teaching his cat to hunt toy fish, pretending to be sick for medical students and admiring pictures of baby ducks. Drew would like to thank his family, his wife and his cat for supporting him in all he does.

Jalisa (she/they) - Assistant Outdoor Festival Manager

Jalisa is a Saskatoon-based theatre artist, balancing many hats on their head and wearing the occasional red nose on their face. Working as a Stage Manager, Production Manager, Performer, Emerging Playwright and one-half of a clown duo: Oblong & Oboe. They hold a BFA in Acting from the University of Saskatchewan and have trained at the Manitoulin Conservatory for Creation and Performance. Her work has taken her to stages and parks throughout Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC. She has been a part of the Saskatoon Theatre scene for 10 years in different capacities, working with 25th Street Theatre, Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, SUM Theatre, Persephone Theatre, and Hardly Arts: Short Cuts Festival. Happy Fringe to all!

Jenna Gulutzan (she/her) - Volunteer Coordinator

Jenna is excited to take on the role of volunteer coordinator this summer! Having prior experience with fringe both as a performer and a volunteer, she is excited to work with the folks who make The Fringe come alive! She is a recent graduate from the University of Saskatchewan with a B. Ed from the College of Education. Currently, she is a substitute teacher with Saskatoon Public Schools. She has had a passion for the arts since she was young and looks forward to working alongside the volunteers and artists this summer! She is excited to see new faces and continue to work with the amazing volunteers from years past! Application for volunteers are open now!

Britainy Zapshalla (she/her) - Media Publicist

With two decades of experience in mainstream media, first as a reporter and on-air host and then as a publicist and communications specialist, and a lifetime as a fan of live performance and creativity, Britainy Zapshalla is proud to be part of the 25th Street Theatre team as it continues to reimagine the possibilities of theatre with the Fringe Festival and mainstage shows.

As graduate of the University of Regina School of Journalism, Britainy quickly made a name for herself working with CBC Saskatchewan as a community and features reporter, on-air host and arts specialist. From the Junos Awards to the Brier, Provincial and Federal Elections to the Canadian Country Music Awards she knows what it’s like to work at major events, live on national tv.

When she left the CBC, Britainy decided it was time to put her experience to work in the community. In addition to 25th Street Theatre, her clients include the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra, Dancing Sky Theatre, Sum Theatre, the Saskatoon Summer Players, the Station Arts Centre, Sum Theatre, the Red, White, & You! Comedy Tour, Persephone Theatre, The National Arts Centre and many independent artists throughout our province.

Britainy continues to work within the mainstream media as a freelance contributor. She is seen regularly on CTV Morning Live and has written for the Saskatoon Star Phoenix, Toast Magazine and her own arts blog britspicks.com.  Britainy also works as a media educator with organizations like the Saskatoon Public Library and the Global Gathering Place to teach them how to put their best foot forward in the interview setting.

Izzy Smith-Gauld (she/her) - Company Morale Manager

Yip yip, bark bark bark. Ruff.

Meryl Sweep (they/them) - Office Maintenance Manager

vvvvrrrr. vrrrrr. vrr vrrrrr.

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.

Jennifer Nairn - Chair

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.

Clare Middleton - Vice Chair

BFA in Acting U of S, MFA in Creative Writing UBC, Clare has been working in and around theatre for the past several decades. A founding member of Live Five, she has held various artist-in-residence positions around the province. Clare loves to teach adults and kids alike and spent nearly 8 years at the Saskatoon Public Library doing storytimes and puppet shows for Library goers. She got her start writing and performing plays at the 25th Street theatre Hericane Women’s theatre Festival over 20 years ago and spent some years doing Fringe theatre in Saskatoon and across Canada. Her present focus is on writing plays and Dramaturgy. She lives in Saskatoon with her husband, two kids and three dogs.

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.

Wendy Li - Secretary

Wendy is a Chinese queer woman who was born and raised on Treaty 6 Territory in Outlook, Saskatchewan. She received her Bachelor of Education in 2015 and did not take the traditional classroom route after graduating but instead took her skills to provide workshops to non-profits, businesses, and corporations about 2SLGBTQ topics. She is now the Equity and Inclusion Coordinator at Saskatchewan Intercultural Association.

Greg Burroughs - Member at Large

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 join 25th Street Theatre’s board in 2014 and has 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.

Morag Embleton Kimpton - Member at Large

Morag Embleton Kimpton was born and raised in Saskatoon and graduated from the University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing and Finance. A twenty-five-year sales professional, she has worked in several fields including food service and OTC pharmaceuticals.

Morag has been involved with several volunteer boards including her children’s SCC and fundraising committees and twelve years with the Brevoort Park Community Association as Indoor Coordinator and Events Coordinator.

Morag has always been a strong supporter and believer in the arts and that the world would be a far less magical place without them. She is looking forward to helping continue that magic in Saskatoon by joining the 25th Street Theatre board.

Nathan Sgrazzutti - Member at Large

Nathan Sgrazzutti is a recent Saskatoon transplant having moved North from Regina only a couple of years ago. Nathan is a legal professional specializing in Employment, Labour, and Corporate Law with Seiferling Law. Nathan holds a B.B.A. with a major in Finance, and expects to complete his Juris Doctor in Spring of 2024. Alongside a history of board governance participation, Nathan enjoys performing live onstage in various musical theatre productions, playing rugby with the Saskatoon Gophers RFC, and relaxing at home with his cat, Cher. Nathan is ecstatic to have the opportunity to lend his unique background and governance experience to the 25th Street Theatre organization.

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.