The Manluk Theatre for the Performing Arts is located in historic Wetaskiwin, Alberta. Although there is still much work to do, our performing arts venue – once a dream of the community theatre society – is now a reality.
The operation of the Manluk Theatre is managed by a non-profit organization which is incorporated in the Province of Alberta as the Wetaskiwin Theatre Society (WTS). The Board of Directors consists of 8 individuals from the community and a contracted Executive Director. We have the best Volunteers in the world who support every event at the theatre by operating the box office, bar and concession, artist merchandise sales, and working as ushers. WTS is a registered charity with the Canada Revenue Agency.
Our venue hosts a variety of events on the Kimto Stage including 18 event days per year for the Waterworks Players, the local community theatre troupe, and approximately 4 events each year as part of the Kimto Stage Concert Series. Other events at the Manluk Theatre are presented by our rental clients including local organizations such as school plays and band concerts, choir and dance recitals, and music concert promoters.
How It All Began…
(The story behind the Wetaskiwin Theatre Society)
In 2002 a group of people dedicated to Performing Arts decided that the small city, south of Edmonton, should have Theatre right inside its own community. And the Wetaskiwin Theatre Society (WTS) was born. It was in November of that same year that the Society was incorporated and for 10 years functioned solely as a Community Theatre Organization.
For the first four years of its existence the WTS did not have a home. Performances were held wherever space could be found, often at the Memorial Centre, sometimes at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum and some smaller shows in collaboration with Sacred Heart School and the Anglican Church.
The people of Wetaskiwin loved the performances and came out to support the burgeoning Theatre Society and it soon became apparent that what had been missing was now something the community could not do without. So the search for a permanent home began.
A few more years passed with the search unsuccessful until in 2006 something amazing happened. The City of Wetaskiwin owned a historic 100 year old building and faced a conundrum about what to do with it, discussions were held about a possible demolition. But when the Wetaskiwin Theatre Society heard of this, they could see beyond the building’s derelict status and what they saw…was a Theatre!
Two of the founding members; Laura Girvan and Eldon Roth, approached city council with a proposal in their hand and a vision in their hearts. And magic was present. A deal was struck. A Memorandum Agreement was drawn up between the City of Wetaskiwin and the Wetaskiwin Theatre Society and the building changed hands for $1.
That building was the Historic Electric Light Power Building which had, a century earlier, provided Wetaskiwin with electric light but would now be used to enlighten its citizens with Culture and Performing Arts.
However, the old building needed a lot of tender care and 1000s of volunteer hours to transform it into a viable theatre. During the following five years, as the structure continued to be transformed, the Society used the building as ‘home base’ for the Waterworks Players .
In 2011 the lobby was upgraded and the following year, in 2012, construction on the auditorium began. With a significant corporate sponsorship in 2015, the Power building was rebranded as the Manluk Theatre for the Performing Arts and the following year, in the summer of 2016, the stage, lighting, dressing room and seating were installed. Since then, renovations and construction have been ongoing as funds allow.
During the time of the 2020/21 Pandemic, when we were forced to close our doors, we decided to focus on the positive and use the “down-time” to further enhance our beautiful little Theatre.
We started with the front room/lobby and it was painted and given a new floor, ceiling, blinds, lighting as well as a projector and projector wall. It still has the cozy ambiance but it is now the perfect spot to share a glass of wine with friends or a date during one of our events.
We did not stop with the front room/lobby but continued with the spaces behind the scenes. We added a green room and a second dressing room, new floors and ceilings and lighting here as well. And to stop the annual leaking of our 100+ year old roof onto the stage and in the front room, our roof was repaired. Next we undertook the daunting task of updating and upgrading our costume room. Anyone who had ever been brave enough to enter into the basement where our costumes and props were kept will not believe their eyes. It is now a bright and organized space in keeping with the sophisticated level of our performances.
The Wetaskiwin Theatre Society continues to enhance the cultural fabric of Wetaskiwin and area with programs and activities by not only providing an opportunity for audiences to experience live theatre but also as a space for other Arts and community groups.