Blog | Happy 50th Anniversary Studio 58!

Happy 50th Anniversary Studio 58!

By admin | February 4, 2016

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Click to watch A Day in the Life of Studio 58

By Hannah Bellamy

Independent does not mean unprofessional when it comes to theatre in Vancouver—and that’s due in part to the many significant contributors to Vancouver’s theatre firmament who are Studio 58 alumni. The famed professional theatre program at Langara College is celebrating its 50th anniversary this season!

Studio 58 began in 1965 as a theatre course at Vancouver Community College’s King Edward Campus. It moved to Langara in 1970 where it picked up the name Studio 58, referring to the theatre space’s room number. The program now operates its own theatre and presents four full-length and two indie-style productions annually.

The Georgia Straight’s Colin Thomas wrote about the anniversary season’s opening productionRomeo + Juliet, saying “there’s a fresh interpretation here, and it will break your heart, which is what’s supposed to do.” He gave each lead performer a sentence-length review and concluded: “Most importantly, at the heart of the show, there are a bunch of young performers who make sense of the text.” To have critics seriously reviewing the training program’s productions shows just how respected it has become.


Raes Calvert in his Studio 58 days as “Clown” in Shakespeare’s A Winters Tale.

Known to its students simply as “Studio,” it offers a three-year program for acting students and a two-year program for production students. A Bachelor of Fine Arts is offered with an additional year of study through a partnership with Capilano University. It is distinguished as one of the top theatre schools in Canada and the only conservatory-style theatre training program in Western Canada.

“Going through the program gave me a sense of what works and what doesn’t,” Raes Calvert, a recent Studio 58 graduate said, explaining that the program prepared him for the independent theatre scene. Raes is now the Co-Artistic Director of Hardline Productions, along with fellow graduates, Sean Oliver Harris and Genevieve Fleming. Raes says Studio 58 has been a supportive resource. “When I produce theatre, if I cast a Studio grad, I know what to expect from them. We speak the same language and I can assume they are a certain caliber based on the fact that the program graduated them.”

Many alumni have found success in independent theatre and Fringe Festivals, including Studio 58’s Artistic Director Kathryn Shaw. She co-wrote and performed Famous Dead Stories We Just Made Up for the 1997 Vancouver Fringe and was a member of the infamous Vancouver-based Angry Actors Co-op who reunited for the 2014 Fringe show Poor—among her other theatre credits as creator and actor. Meanwhile Studio 58 has turned out notable alumni working in organizations such as Bard on the Beach, the Arts Club, the Stratford and Shaw Festivals, The Belfy, and Britain’s National Theatre. With the Studio’s continued success, Vancouver can expect many more of the program’s alumni to add to the city’s vibrant independent theatre scene for years to come.

Studio 58’s anniversary season continues on February 3 with FourPlay, dramaturged by Aaron Bushkowsky and directed by Jane Heyman, Kathryn Shaw, and others.

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