Fire Exit Theatre strives to produce excellent, innovative art that unlocks the soul of its audience and builds:
- A vibrant, meaningful community engaged in a dialogue about faith, and
- A satisfying creative experience for developed and developing artists.
A Message from the Artistic Director
I am so excited to be bringing you the stories of Season 14. Stories of forgiveness that pass all human understanding. Stories of relationships that run deep. Stories of unexpected grace. Stories of great love and great loss, reminding us that often those go together. And stories that come from unexpected storytellers.
Story is innate in us – we are born into this epic story – God’s story. And he knew how to tell a good story. The author Steven James says, that when Jesus came to earth he brought along the folktales of heaven. He didn’t lecture like a professor, but told fables like a bard, weaving tales of another world into the fabric of human lives. He told stories because he knew that humans are rarely interested in truth unless it is wrapped up in a story.
I don’t think even I fully realize the power of story. The subtlety in its power to change us. Someone asked me recently; what’s the point, the point of telling stories? What do they make us do? I stopped for a moment and rolled that question around in my head, what do stories make us do? Almost everything; I realized. No, seeing play may not save your marriage, or help you lose weight or bring your grades up. And watching a movie may not make you more altruistic, or cause you to have less road rage. But I am realizing more and more that every story that I consume is changing me; slowly but surely. Just as every story you consume is changing you.
The stories the world is telling us include – personal happiness over everything, beauty actually is only skin deep, the ends justifies the means, sexuality is my own business, all paths lead to God anyway, if it feels good and everyone’s doin’ it…it must be okay. Now, no one took out a billboard campaign to deliver these messages to us – they come to us through 22 minute sitcoms, through novels, through films and plays and advertisements. Stories are being shouted at us on a daily basis. And those seemingly benign sound bytes are shaping what we think about God and beauty and wealth and truth. It is almost impossible for them not to.
We at Fire Exit are intent on telling better stories. Yes, we hope those stories will entertain you, but more importantly we hope that those stories will subtly begin to change you…and how you think about God and beauty and wealth and truth.
These stories aren’t always for the faint of heart. They may be about good relationships gone horribly wrong. About the pull of addiction or the pain of violence. The desire for some to self-destruct and the long road home to redemption. The consequences of sin – or as we call it, the challenge of being human. These are the stories that we feel are worth much of our time, most of our talent and some of your money.
Theologian Frederick Buechner wrote, “There would be a strong argument for saying that much of the most powerful preaching of our time is the preaching of the poets, playwrights, novelists, because it is often they better than the rest of us who speak with awful honesty…”
We believe with all our being that great stories have the power to allow us to empathize with people radically different but ultimately the same as us. We believe that great stories ask big questions and make us think outside of our safe, impenetrable boxes. Great stories cause us to look at the world and each other from a different view point, maybe a different posture.
So thank you for supporting us – for trusting us with your time and your resources. We never take that for granted. Because of your generosity we will continue to be storytellers and story gatherers. We will continue to be heart and mind shapers and culture makers.
Here’s to a season of light…a season of stories that will change you.
Susan Erion – President
Susan works for the City of Calgary in the area of Affordable Housing. She has been a fan of Fire Exit Theatre for many years and is passionate about its mission. She has experience serving on other faith-based board of directors and has also worked in the Calgary music community for a not-for-profit organization. She volunteers with the Centre Street Choir enjoys playing the piano and is currently taking cello lessons as her next musical outlet. Susan believes that the fine arts are what define the legacy of each culture and generation (next to Biblical beliefs, of course) and wants to share what Fire Exit is doing in Calgary.
Lisa Congo – Vice President
Lisa was born and raised in Calgary...one of a dying breed here in Calgary! She works as a Program Coordinator with youth programming with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area. Lisa is a passionate supporter of the arts and is involved in her own creative pursuits. She is a singer and musician and uses her gifts in her role as a worship leader at her church, RockPointe Church here in Calgary. Lisa attended Taylor University where she graduated with her Bachelor of Christian Studies. She has also attended the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary in Cochrane, AB.
In her spare time, Lisa enjoys being with her friends and family, reading and going to scary movies. She's also quite certain that Sonny Bono drives the main bus route by her house, that there was another shooter on the grassy knoll and capital punishment should only be used on people who budge in line at Tim Hortons.
Brenda Coke – Treasurer
As a child, Brenda dreamed of directing and producing Nancy Drew movies and taking the title role herself! She put on numerous ‘shows’ for family, neighbors and friends, enlisting the help of cousins and others in the community. But she took the practical path with her education and currently works as an accounting ‘detective’ in the oil patch (her ‘Nancy Drew Project’). She also runs a small piano studio out of her home. Brenda loves the Arts and is a supporter of theatre, opera, ballet and classical music. Now that her four children have reached adulthood, she is thrilled to finally come back to her love of the stage as a member of the board of Fire Exit Theatre. In her spare time Brenda can be found... Are you kidding? What spare time?! Life is good!!
Tim Bergmann – Chaplain.
Tim is musician, videographer, writer, pastor, scripture-memorizing and lover of all things creative. He has written eight books, two musicals and over 600 songs. He co-directed and acted in a full-length film, as well as produced several short promotional videos. Tim is a sought after speaker bringing hope-filled message wherever he goes. He’s been married to Jennifer for 30 years and is the proud father of six and grandfather to two.
Glen Hoare – Director at Large
Glen has discovered a new passion in providing behind the scenes support for the arts community in Calgary through Fire Exit Theatre. A graduate of Canadian Bible College with a Bachelor of Religious Education in 2000, he currently works with the Government of Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. Glen volunteers his time and talents in a variety of avenues recently including set construction for "Absence".
Darryl Hein – Director at Large
Darryl has been helping Fire Exit with their website for a number of years, including learning the in and outs of structured data for shows. For his day job – or pretty much anytime – Darryl builds websites and web apps to support the goals of various businesses and organizations. Recently married, Darryl supports his wife in a variety of theatre related endeavours and helps out with the technical arts at his church. He's excited about the opportunities to show his faith through the arts – a community where everyone is accepted.
Vidette Heller – Director at Large
Vidette has a passion for organization, details and she loves to have fun, which makes her role on the Fire Exit Board a good fit. Her job experience includes: administration, event planning, volunteer development, bookkeeping, leadership and behind-the-scenes management. Vidette recently moved back "home" to Medicine Hat where she serves as the Business Manager at Hillcrest Church, but remains committed to supporting the work of Fire Exit Theatre.
Cyndi Chomick – Secretary
Cyndi was born and raised in Medicine Hat, met her husband, Barry and soon were off to Yellowknife, NWT. They are now a family of 5; with daughters Alyssa & Dalyce and son Jesse. In her spare time, Cyndi likes to walk and bike. She participated in a 100km walk in the fall of 2011 just to see if she could do it. Recently Cyndi has returned to the potter’s wheel, going back to something she enjoyed doing BC (before children). Cyndi has always loved drama and acted a little in church productions in the past. She joined the board of the Fire Exit Theatre because she believes in the power of theatre to tell a message and because she also has come to believe that it is time Christians reclaimed the arts.
Val Lieske – Managing Artistic Director
Val is the founder and Artistic Director of Fire Exit Theatre as well the Director of Theatre Arts with Centre Street Church, instructor with Alberta Bible College and the Associate Director of the Theatre Program at Ambrose Univeristy. She has a BA in Theatre & Speech from Trinity Guild University (UK) and has worked with numerous churches and theatre companies. Val also works as a freelance, writer, educator, performer, and public speaker. Her writing credits include DUTY TO WARN, COFFEE TALK, GOD’S ATTENTION, BRUISED NOT BROKEN, PAST TENSE, FLESH & BONES and ABSENCE winner of 2006 CAT Best Original Script. Directing credits include THE DISEASED VIGNETTE’S, BIBLE LIBEL, WRAPPINGS, INSIDE GALILEE, and Neil Simon’s GOD’S FAVORITE. This season she’ll be directing NATIVITY IN THE CITY. Her book CROSSROADS CAFÉ enjoyed some time on the Calgary Herald’s best-seller list.
Colin Lowe – Technical Director
Colin Lowe has been part of the Calgary Arts and Performance community for over 12 years, it is both profession and a personal passion. He graduated from the Cinema, Television, Stage and Radio program at SAIT in 2001, and immediately immersed himself in film and theatre. Colin has worked as a film and video editor, media relations director, sound designer (both film and theatrical), lighting designer, stage manager, tech operator, technical coordinator, technical director, instrumental musician, vocalist, actor, choral and orchestral director, and musical composer and arranger. This will be the 4th season of Fire Exit that Colin has been involved with since 2005; Fire Exit design credits include Under A Bridge, Along A River, Halo, and Craving. Colin is thrilled to be able to return to Fire Exit Theatre in a professional capacity and looks forward to what is in store for it's patrons, and new theatre-goers alike.
Johanna Giebler – Artistic Associate
Johanna is a spoken word poet, emerging playwright and emerging director hailing from small town Alberta. She moved to Calgary six years ago to earn a BA in Leadership Development with a focus on the arts and a Diploma in Theatre Arts from theatre@Rocky, and has stayed a part of the community ever since. Since graduating, she has worked with the Canadian Badlands Passion Play, Fire Exit Theatre, and a variety of churches in the area. She believes in a God who is both the inspiration for creativity and the Creator of inspiration. She is so honoured and thrilled to be able to work closer with Fire Exit Theatre as the Artistic Associate and continue to change the world!