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L.A. Beat

Theatre Outré history explored in new Galt Museum exhibit

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Theatre Outré made history not only as Lethbridge’s first 2SLGBTQ theatre company but lasting 10 years. Now they are part of history with an exhibit opening today at The Galt Museum outlining their  history.

“ I don’t feel old enough to be considered part of history,” laughed Deonie Hudson, interim  artistic director for Theatre Outré, whose collection of suitcases full of props, costumes and paraphernalia for each show the company has done  was the source of  the items in the exhibition.


 Hudson, who has been part of Theatre Outré  for eight years, observed the exhibit is a good way to mark the end of an era.

“ It’s the beginning of the next chapter,” Hudson said.


 The exhibit features props, and costumes, plus interactive informational panel boards for every one of the theatre company’s shows they have performed  over their first 10 years.


Jay White head with a new  Galt Museum exhibit celebrating Theatre Outré's history. Photo by Richard Amery

Theatre Outré moved out of their downtown space after their tenth season ended.


“ Most local theatre companies don’t have their own spaces. So we’ll be doing more found theatre,” said Hudson, thanking the Owl Acoustic Lounge and Good Times for hosting some of their events.

 She noted they have already performed  a few productions in found  spaces, like under 10,000 Villages and has taken their shows on the road to as faraway as Ireland.


 Theatre Outré veteran Brett Dahl, who has performed in several Theatre Outré  show like “Like Orpheus” takes the helm of the company beginning in September.

Hudson hopes   the exhibit will inspire other artists to  step out of their comfort zone and  make art.


 Curator Jason Ranaghan was excited to put together this exhibition, starting work on it in January.


“I did  a lot of research. I wanted to celebrate the  history of  this queer theatre company,” he said at a press call.

“ I’ve been looking at Theatre Outré from the outside for several years,” he continued.

“Queer history, especially outside larger urban centres, is often assumed to not exist, especially in the prairies,”  guest curator Jason Ranaghan noted in a press release.

. “But that’s just not the case—queer people find each other and build communities everywhere, including Lethbridge. That history is worthy of being told.” 

Theatre Outré  co-founder Jay Whitehead admitted  looking at the exhibit  made him a little teary -eyed.


“There was a lot of controversy when we started.  I’m grateful for the community around Theatre Outré that has always supported us,” Whitehead said, noting  the strong community that  Theatre Outré  helped foster lead to  their success in the face of  the controversy.


“It‘s amazing,” Whitehead said of the exhibit.

 He  couldn’t choose his most impactful show with Theatre Outré.


“They’re all like my children. But if I had to choose one, UnSex’d was a play I wrote about two Shakespearean boy players who played the female characters in Shakespeare,” he said.

“In the queer community, we often don’t have good support from our biological families, especially in places that are more conservative or religious. Often times, members of the community will find their own families and build a family from those who are surrounding and supporting them,”he said

“ Such a beautiful family has formed around Theatre Outré,” Whitehead said, thanking all of the volunteers who help the theatre company going.

“ We’ve had 10 great seasons and  we couldn't”t have done it without our beautifully  dedicated volunteers,” Whitehead said.

“ We’ve had an exceptionally good first decade so hopefully we’ll have a  couple more,” Whitehead said.

Acting Out: Celebrating a Decade of Theatre Outré runs in the basement of the Galt Museum until Feb. 11, 2024.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. beat Editor

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