By Cal Braid
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
he Taber Players return to the stage this Thursday (Nov. 23) for a run of seven shows at the Legion. This year’s fall/winter production is called Chance Encounters, a play by English playwright Jamesine Cundell Walker. “The synopsis on it is that there are nine encounters that take place on a park bench during the course of a day in September,” said Jaclynn Elfring, producer of the show. “Some are dramatic and some are comedic. I personally find it very real and humanizing. It’s definitely a different setup than your average play.”
There are seven performers in the show. Jeff Graham, Angela Renner, Kristan Adkins, Mark Harding, Patty Petronech, Kadence Ridley, and Jocelyn Steinborn, who is also the director of the show. They’ve been rehearsing since September.
The Players have auditions for each spring and fall show, and depending on where the spring show lands on the calendar, auditions for it are usually held sometime between mid-December and early January. For the fall show, auditions usually begin in mid-August, and the cast changes from one season to the next. This is Elfring’s fourth production with the Players, and while she isn’t in Chance Encounters as an actor, she has acted with the group since 2012.
The Taber Players have been around since the mid-1980s. A local woman named Chris Sheen formed the group with eight other people, and the first show they did was See How They Run by Philip King in 1986. Sheen is quoted as saying, “In 1986, I gathered a few people that I thought might be interested in forming a theater group. There were maybe eight of us. Two were a couple originally from England who had been involved in local theater. I chose See How They Run not only for its greatness but because it had two real Englishmen. Lo and behold a few weeks into rehearsal, they up and left the country for Nepal. The Taber Times were our best cheerleaders. There were eight pages of articles in my scrapbook including one full page of pictures from opening night. We enjoyed that support for several years.”
This week the Players are doing their tech and dress rehearsals in anticipation of Thursday’s opening night. Elfring is enjoying her producer’s role and said it’s a little less hectic this time around. “The last spring show I acted, directed, sang with the band, produced… it was a lot,” she said laughing. “So this was nice, just to have to produce.” She said the producer in community theater does “all the background things that aren’t acting or directing. From getting insurance for the actors and crew for each show to painting the set if they have to. Everything to do with community theater is volunteer; nobody gets paid for any of their work. It all comes from the passion to create art.”
“That being said, it can be hard to get volunteers,” she said. “But people came together for this show and really amazed me. I had so much help and I’m just so grateful and thankful for the community of Taber and surrounding area. Way to show up and be amazing!”
Check out Chance Encounters this Thursday to Saturday or next Wednesday to Saturday to support local theater as well as the actors and every volunteer who works to make the stage come alive. The show is appropriate for all ages, and runs Nov. 23, 24, 25, 29,30 and Dec. 1,2 at Taber Legion Hall. Tickets are $25 and are available at taberplayers.ca. Doors open at 7 p.m. and showtime is 7:30 p.m.