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Creating theatre on a budget

Chairlift Revue stages short plays revolving around chairlift conversations

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By Nicole Fitzgerald

Tensions run high at a rehearsal for the Chairlift Revue, the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival’s newest dramatic addition which premieres Monday, April 16 at 9 p.m. at the Rainbow Theatre.

Scripts are written, actors cast and set built, or at least placed.

Three chairs are lined up next to each other.

Time for direction.

Actors are directed to take their seats.

They sit.

Blocking done.

Okay staging the Chairlift Revue isn’t as simple as all that, but keeping things time efficient with little to no budget was a key driving force behind staging the festival’s first theatre event.

“I got this idea to write plays based on conversations on a chairlift,” said G.D. Maxwell, who resurrected the Stan Langtry show staged more than a decade ago. “I thought it was a cool idea because it is so in character with a ski resort and partly because it would be really easy to produce, doesn’t require props, sets are chairs and let the imagination of the audience do the rest of it,”

The Chairlift Revue will stage short plays penned by North American scribblers. With scripts running the duration of one chairlift ride, audiences will be carried away into a number of hilarious tales ranging from a vacation gone horribly wrong to a boy-girl encounter all too familiar to anyone whose life revolves around the chairlift.

“Skiing is a weird sport in that there really aren’t any other sports that really bridge together people of different education and socio-economic standings,” said co-producer Maxwell. “Because skiing is an all consuming passion, you’ve immediately got something to talk about for that 15 minute ride up the mountain. By the time you climb on a chairlift, your body is awash with endorphins and people release all inhibitions. You are totally free to reinvent yourself because you are probably sitting next to someone you are never going to run into again, so why not? Why not be your fantasy? There is nothing sadder than a silent chairlift ride.”

Three of Whistler’s most crazed — but not deemed clinically insane, yet — thespians will stage Whistler’s own ode to a chairlift. The cantankerous scribe of Maxed Out fame, G.D. Maxwell begrudgingly took up the torch for this night of silliness with Michele Bush, the mastermind behind the staged production of Ab Fab, and Chris Quinlan, a regular in Short Skirt Theatre pantomimes.

Scriptwriters from corridor residents Cindy Filipenko, Lisa Richardson and Maxwell have joined forces with Americans Jules Older and Paul Malm to create memorable characters — or at least laughable ones.

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