Twenty-fifth Street Theatre Players was established in 1972 as an artists’ collective under the direction of the enigmatic Andras Tahn. The company would proceed to incorporate in 1974 and become the first professional theatre company in Saskatoon, and the legacy it would leave would be nationally acclaimed. But as Brenna details in this succinct genesis of the Theatre, how it managed its personality conflicts, confronted its obstacles of inadequate funding, and grappled with the shifting of its artistic vision makes this account of 25th Street Theatre a unique and original history.
As anyone involved in the arts knows financial and artistic struggles often are the fire through which a cultural organization is forged. Brenna understands this and recounts such events with precision, but just as importantly he knows that this theatre’s perspicacity and passion are what made it special. Whether discussing how the Theatre would lay the groundwork for notable playwrights such as Brad Fisher, Linda Griffiths, Greg Nelson, Kit Brennan, Ken Mitchell, and Connie Gault, or detailing the background for the vision and energy of Andreas Tahn, Brenna leaves the reader with a clear understanding of the ingenuity and inventiveness of its players as much as he does the unique challenges faced by collectives, and the constant assault that finances and an unforgiving Board of Directors can have on artistic vision.
The book offers photographs of Theatre personalities both onstage and in the dressing rooms, but it is the story of the theatre’s own personality, its small, youthful beginnings, its risky devised performances, its original scripts, and its improvised collective creations with famed icons such as Theatre Passe Muraille’s Paul Thompson that give this book its edge.
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