The recent demise of the celebrated Beaumont Theatre on West 5th Avenue has caused quite the stir in our Indie Stage community of late. Beloved for its intimacy and affordability, the little black box has been home to dozens of memorable performances over the past several years, performances both polished and decidedly in-process, as befits a progressive indie mandate. This news comes hard on the heels of the announcement by The Playwrights Theatre Centre Studio that the studio theatre upstairs at 1398 Cartwright Street will no longer be available for rent as a performance space, only as a rehearsal/workshop venue. Affordable space with accessible light and sound fixtures for independent stage companies in Vancouver is as low as it has been in ten years.
Of course, the rumours are flying as to the reasons for the termination of the Beaumont Theatre as we begin to come to terms with the loss of yet another practical playing space. So here’s Lori Triolo, the former Artistic Director of the Beaumont and its resident stage company The Evolving Arts Collective, to set the record straight in her own words:
Many people claim to be on the same page, want the same things, have the same philosophy. They get excited, jump into biz together and end up on a very bumpy road. Such was the case at The Beaumont Studios. Running a successful small theater in Vancouver is an enormous challenge at the best of times. It takes a tremendous amount of integrity to actually do what you say and be able to help others reach their artistic goals…with no money. But Evolving Arts Collective managed to do that. It has taken the better part of 5 years to build an excellent reputation for the EAC and Beaumont Stage. It is unfortunate that the artist/businesswoman (I use both of those terms loosely) who holds the lease on The Beaumont is incapable of running a business. I helped build the Beaumont from the ground up and have met every tenant that tried to make The Beaumont their home. The turn over was overwhelming. Much of their leaving was due to poor management of the building and dealing with an individual that doesn’t understand the definition of integrity. Some may see this as slander and me being dramatic about losing my home. That is not the case. We were kicked out. A sad situation for the theatre community who has next to no affordable theaters left to work at in the city.
I know that in the end it is all a blessing. That you can’t really reach your full potential living in such a bad situation everyday. And in truth, we stayed and put up with the madness as long as we did because it wasn’t as easy for us to just pick up and take the theatre with us. We should have left far before we got kicked out. We were just so damn optimistic that the craziness would eventually go away. No such luck. In the middle of renegotiating our contract for another year, we were given no warning and were sent a letter terminating our contract. There were no reasons given. [The landlady] would later say that she wanted to take control of the theatre so she can make more money. I suppose that is her prerogative. What I hate are the lies and posing. I have worked hard to surround myself with folks that are of their word. I continue to make mistakes about people. I tend to believe what they say. Big mistake.
The EAC is actively looking for a new home. We will be back in the near future. The next venue will be a dream come true.
…until then, Colin and I are looking for a venue for The Cold Reading Series. I am also in the market for a space to teach a couple of Meisner classes. Any help in those arenas would be much appreciated. www.evolvingartscollective.com