I was an awkward theatre nerd in high school, more prone to sing along to Gilbert & Sullivan than listen to Top 40. Walterdale Theatre & Associates became my home away from home in high school and the early university years - the scene of countless hours scribbling blocking notes in rehearsal halls, skulking in dark corners backstage as props runner or assistant stage manager, up in the booth calling cues and running lights, or magically under the lights in gorgeous costumes performing in pantomimes, melodramas, comedies, and dramas.
Walterdale was the scene of my first stage kiss and my first real kiss, first drink, first adult friendships. I ditched my grade 12 grad dance in favour of the Walterdale year-end party and, over 13 shows, built a passionate love affair with the arts. Other adventures and priorities led me away from the old firehall, but the love affair remained. It led to stints as an arts journalist, commentator and reviewer, marketer, arts administrator, and communicator. (Although if you'd asked me then, I was going to win a Tony!)
I feel deep gratitude for toward that welcoming and inclusive community; it continues to challenge and support every person who joins in the fun of putting on a show whether as audience, technician, or performer. I hope spaces such as Walterdale, which bridge the divide between "professional" and "amateur", become more accessible, more prevalent, and thrive as Edmonton moves into the next chapter of its cultural life.
(photo by C. W. Hill Photography; The Mumberley Inheritance, 1987 - Walterdale Klondike Melodrama @ the Shoctor)