Live Theatre

Story by Patricia Merrick
Photos by Kurtis Kristianson

Members from the Artists of Crossfield Theatre Society get
together after inspecting their new stage curtain at the
Crossfield and District Community Centre.
(L to R) Jenn Price, Stacy Price, Grant Budgeon, Lana Cissell and Lani McLeod.

There are many reasons Crossfield is an enticing community to live in. With local organizations putting on a variety of events throughout the year, residents can enjoy the quiet of living in a small town while also being entertained in their own community.

The Artists of Crossfield Theatre Society (ACTS) was a mere week away from mounting its 2020 production of Objectionable Conduct when the COVID-19 pandemic forced its postponement.

“COVID hit about the worst possible time for us,” said ACTS president Grant Budgeon. “I really want to put this show on because it’s a good one. It was really well-written. We’ve got great actors and characters and I think that it would be one of our highlight shows.”

The show has now been moved to spring 2022.

ACTS is a local organization comprised of volunteers dedicated to entertaining their fellow community members through live theatre. It takes approximately 20 volunteers to put on a production each spring, after spending months creating the sets, writing the scripts and rehearsing lines.

According to Budgeon, the group is known for its comedies, but this production would be its first drama. It’s based in the courtroom and the storyline revolves around a civil lawsuit between a man and woman who previously dated.

“It’s kind of like the old Ross and Rachel thing from Friends. You know – Were we on a break? Weren’t we on a break?” Budgeon said. “The woman of the couple feels that she had been slighted so she decides to sue her boyfriend and so it ends up in court.”

Actors will be pulling viewers up from the audience as well to act as jurors.

“It’s quite comical – we have some interesting witnesses and, of course, the lawyers are half nuts themselves,” he said. “That’s what people seem to want. They’re looking just to come out and really laugh a lot and have a good time and see their friends and neighbours.”

Jennifer Price has been volunteering with ACTS for almost 10 years now and said she has taken on a variety of roles, including lead and supporting. She lives in Airdrie but grew up in Crossfield.

“It’s nice to still return home every once in a while and do something good for the community,” Price said. “It’s just an opportunity to do something outside of your norm and you get to kind of be something different for a little while and it’s fun to explore the world through a different set of eyes.”

The group of actors usually starts rehearsing in January but hasn’t been able to get together since before the pandemic, Budgeon said, adding virtual rehearsals just aren’t ideal.

The society was formed in 2012 by a group of volunteers who had been involved in a dinner theatre group affiliated with W.G. Murdoch School. ACTS was created after the drama teacher at the school wanted to take a break but they wanted to continue what they had started. The group used to run a single show but now puts on two per year, due to popular demand.

“It’s a real treat to work with all these people and their talents and kind of giving them a forum to showcase what they can do,” Budgeon said. “It’s a really rewarding experience from my perspective, just to open doors for people and have our audience come out and have an enjoyable evening. It’s not a job – it’s a pleasure.”