Performing groups make the city`s venues work

The Playhouse is in the heart of downtown and is used regularly but has its flaws (Nathan Paton/AQ)

Fredericton is becoming a cultural hub and performing groups are always looking for venues.

“Even if you look at Fredericton, there’s not really one true good performing centre that has excellent acoustic properties for groups to perform in,” said Don Bosse, the technical director of the Tom Morrison Theatre at Fredericton High School.

Bosse is also the director of the St. Thomas University Jazz Ensemble. Bosse spoke about the acoustics of performing venues for music groups.

“Like the Playhouse is designed to be very dry so any group that performs there, they need amplification. It would be very hard to perform there acoustically.”

Bosse said The Tom Morrison Theatre is one of the best performing venues for bands or choirs because of its acoustics. The space can also be rented for outside groups which tend to mostly be amateur theatre companies.

Bosse said if the city of Fredericton was able to build an expensive theatre, he’s not sure there’s enough going on in the city to sustain it.

“It would be nice to have and I think it would be utilized but I don’t think we have enough going on to sustain it. I don’t know if we have the audience. I mean, even when we bring in the Symphony New Brunswick we don’t get full houses for those performances and those are at the Playhouse. It would be great to have and it would be a wonderful addition but I don’t know if we could sustain it.”

Bosse said the acoustics are dry and the sound gets absorbed on stage.

He makes reference to Symphony Hall in Boston which was expensive to construct and houses two world class groups that perform there regularly. He said Fredericton doesn’t have that.

Ryan Griffith is the artistic director of the Next Folding Theatre Company based in Fredericton which produces work by local artists. He understands the competitive nature of finding a space to not only perform but also rehearse.

“We’ve got growth in Fredericton in pretty much every field. If you’re looking at dance, or spoken word performance, or readings, theatre, music, it’s just growing all over the board. So, I think trying to get the space the whole process has become more competitive.”

Griffith said the culture in Fredericton is growing and has evolved substantially since he first got his start.

“When I first started writing plays in 1999, there wasn’t a lot going on so it was a lot easier.”

Griffith said renting spaces can get complicated because not every group’s performances are well enough attended to cover the costs.

“Whatever theatre they open up has to make money. The trick to having a theatre that makes money is that performance space always has to be in use,” he said.

Griffith said, in terms of performing theatre, you don’t necessarily need an expensive space to perform in. The acoustics are important to help with energy and voice projection, but theatre can be performed in non-conventional spaces as well.

“The best thing about theatre is you can put on a theatre show with just yourself so you don’t necessarily need all that,” said Griffith.

In Fredericton, the spaces which are most commonly used are Memorial Hall, Ted Daigle Auditorium, the Playhouse, Theatre New Brunswick Studio Theatre, the Charlotte Street Arts Centre, and the Black Box Theatre which is currently hosting this season of the Next Folding Theatre Company.

“We have the Black Box hosting us this year, and it’s awesome because it’s a very hard space to get for a period of time. It’s very competitive to get in on that space,” said Griffith.

Performing groups in the city have to make do with what they have.

“People really want to put on art and right now you have to find a way to make it work,” said Griffith. “It doesn’t matter what’s available. You use what’s available and you make it work. In the long run, you’re probably not going to be as productive complaining about how there’s no perfect space in Fredericton.”

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