Final curtain call ahead for Y Stage
Series’ artistic producer takes a look back at happy history
Vertigo Y Stage artistic producer Nathan Pronyshyn has a smile more infectious than any of the kids who see his shows.
It’s that unbridled passion that’s made him so successful running the youth-targeted theatre series for nearly 10 years.
But it’s heartbreaking to hear a man like him talk about the end of the Y Stage series, which will shut down after one more production later this month.
“I broke into tears on our last opening night,” he said. “I had family come — the daughter, she’s a teenager, has been coming to the series since she was five years old. They haven’t missed a show. What a cool thing.”
While Vertigo is known for its mystery series, the company launched the Y Stage in 2003. Pronyshyn took over in 2007.
In November of last year, he announced he would be departing the Y Stage, and just a few months into the New Year, he was told the Y Stage would not continue without him.
“As the company has evolved, the need to focus our resources on areas that align most directly with our artistic vision make it necessary to restructure our programming in order to create the greatest opportunities for success,” said artistic director Craig Hall.
Pronyshyn said it’s becoming harder to program for youth. Artist fees are going up, but theatres must balance paying quality artists with being affordable to young audiences. Defining MoMents
Over his tenure, one of the biggest moments for Pronyshyn was the production of n00b. It was the first original production by Y Stage, a video-gamed-themed play written by Calgary scribe Christopher Duthie.
“I just knew there was something in it,” he exclaimed. “We mined it, developed a mentorship for it, I brought on Bob White back when he was in Calgary, and Terry Gillis, and we made this play happen. Then it ended up blowing up; it sold out here and two seasons later it ended up touring nationally. That was a special time for me.”
Other highlights include bringing a circus to town with Theatre Junction and Fluid Festival and bringing down a simple, beautiful show for very young audiences. There was also this season’s partnership with the Eating Disorder Support Network of Alberta to do Mess, a show about anorexia. Alvin sputnik
The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer will be the final production by the Y Stage.
It’s a tiny tale about a solitary explorer with a heart as big as a whale. The story fuses animation, puppetry and live music as Sputnik searches for his lost love in the ocean.
Pronyshyn worked for three years to bring the show up from Australia.
“I saw the show, and I balled like a baby, and I’ve been trying to find a way to get it to Calgary ever since,” he said. “The fact that it’s finally happening, and as the last show, I think it’s a good farewell.”
n00b was a standout moment — their first original play.