As a community theatre artist, director, producer, playwright, choreographer, and actor, Bethany Hughes has been involved in the Edmonton arts scene for the past 10 years. She started teaching drama while an undergrad at university and is now actively working with three local theatre companies: Straight Edge Theatre, Azimuth Theatre, and Walterdale Theatre.
“Each of these companies provides unique opportunities for creation and celebration of self and community,” says Hughes. “It’s a true gift to work with their volunteers and the artists who inspire the work.”
Hughes is one of the co-founders of Straight Edge Theatre, a local Fringe theatre company that cultivates a safe space for performers to explore and create while respecting and observing their personal beliefs and boundaries. For the upcoming Fringe Festival, Hughes is directing and co-writing two of the company’s three scheduled productions, Cult Cycle: The Musical and MISCAST.
When Hughes began teaching drama, she helped create new work, educate, and foster a love of performance while working with at-risk youth through the E4C ArtStart program. She is dedicated to social change and to the vital role that professional theatre has in contributing to that change. The desire to work with companies that support that vision prompted Hughes to join the board of directors for the Azimuth Theatre, which supports independent Canadian creators and fosters a strong sense of community.
Hughes is also the current artistic director for the Walterdale Theatre, one of the longest-running community theatres in Edmonton. She is the director for Next to Normal, a musical by Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt that is on the stage July 4–14, and will cap off the Walterdale’s year in December by directing The Great Gatsby, by Simon Levy, based on the classic by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The 2018 season is a monumental and exciting one for the Walterdale. “This year, we are celebrating the last 60 years, our own jubilee, so we are using this as a year to reflect on our history, where we have come from, and how we can build and strengthen our community,” she says. “This season is geared to challenge the norm and to invite and engage our community.”