An Edmonton improv company is getting closer to moving into its forever home in the heart of Old Strathcona.
In July, Rapid Fire Theatre began construction to transform a former telephone exchange building turned telecommunications museum at 83 Avenue and 104 Street into a permanent home for its company.
“For lack of a better word, it’s bonkers,” said Sarah Huffman, the general manager of Rapid Fire Theatre.
“It is absolutely exciting to be a part of this project, to see the development of the space from where it was to where it is currently.”
In 2021, Rapid Fire Theatre signed a 40-year lease with TELUS to take over the space.
The main floor of the building — Phase 1 of the project — includes a 160-seat theatre, lobby, bar, concession, bathrooms and artist lounge.
Eventually, the plan is to transform the basement — Phase 2 of the project — into a workshop and classroom space. A donation campaign to raise $1 million is underway to make Phase 2 of the project happen.
“We do a lot of work with inner-city youth here in Edmonton, and we’ve never had a space to bring them in and do workshops,” Huffman said.
Matt Schuurman, artistic director with Rapid Fire Theatre, has been performing with the group for 20 years. He said the new space is an indication of the growth the company has seen in its 42-year history.
“When I first got involved with Rapid Fire Theatre, we were running out of the Varscona Theatre, doing about seven shows a month,” he said.
Rapid Fire Theatre is now doing eight shows a week.
“We’ve grown to the point where this venue is a necessity for our operations,” Schuurman said.
“Having a secure space as our own venue also secures the future for the organization.”
Construction on the main theatre is expected to be complete by the end of the year in order to welcome guests in early 2023.
The cost of the entire project, including the basement, is $4.5 million.
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