February 16, 2013 in Washington Voices

Ignite! obtains new venue in Spokane Valley

By The Spokesman-Review
Colin Mulvany photoBuy this photo

During auditions for “I Hate Hamlet,” fight coordinator Brian Rempel, left, and Ignite! Community Theatre’s artistic director, Scott Finlayson cross swords, while Richard Donnelly waits to audition for the role of John Barrymore. “I Hate Hamlet” opens April 12.
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location
If you go

What: Ignite Community Theatre

Where: 10814 E. Broadway Ave.

Contact: (509) 795-0004 or www.ignitetheatre.org

Now showing: “Crimes of the Heart” continues today and Feb. 22 and 23 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday and Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18/adults, $16/seniors and military and $15/students through the website or $20 at the door.

For theater lovers who want options, Ignite! Community Theatre is hoping to fuel the flame at its home in the Spokane Valley Partners building, where it settled in September.

“We are very happy to have a home and we are doing everything we can to bring quality theater to the Valley,” said artistic director and founding member Scott Finlayson.

“Crimes of the Heart,” which opened last weekend and continues through Feb. 24, is the third fully staged production in the community theater’s Footlight series this season.

The play, a dark comedy by Beth Henley, pingpongs through the messy family dynamics of three sisters facing a crisis. While capturing real-life emotions that will resonate with any audience member, the six actors veer from humorous to horrible to heartbreaking in the span of a scene.

Formed in 2004, the community theater moved to its current location at 10814 E. Broadway Ave. last fall, after bouncing around town for years.

The group performed in the Riverwalk complex the first two seasons before skyrocketing rent sent them looking for new space, Finlayson said.

“We became an itinerant theater without a home base. We did shows where we could,” Finlayson said. The group performed at Gonzaga University, the Blue Door Theatre, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church on the South Hill, and in the Spokane Masonic Center downtown. “We were spread around town.”

While performing in various venues they raised funds for a permanent home by staging a haunted house, called Riverfront Fright, for several years at Riverfront Park.

The Valley building, Finlayson said, is a good fit because the other organizations that use space there typically operate during the day, while the community theater, which is staffed by volunteers, rehearse and perform in the evening.

They use the converted sanctuary in the building that once housed Spokane Valley Nazarene Church. It’s an intimate venue with stadium seating for 100, including 64 new seats the theater installed.

“It’s something that feels like a permanent home for us and we are thrilled to be doing theater,” Finlayson said. “Because we moved around so much, I think over the years we’ve been hard to find for some of our audiences. It’s difficult to grow when there’s uncertainty where you are going to be. … The more word we can get out that we’re there and have a consistent home finally, I hope it builds.”

Ignite! Community Theater aims to be an artistic alternative for area actors as well as audiences, Finlayson said.

“We’re trying to bring different shows than are being done elsewhere,” he said. “We tend to do the plays that haven’t been done, the smaller shows, the nonmusical shows that you don’t get an opportunity to see in other venues in town.”

“We want to be an alternative for the people who do theater in town as well,” he added. “We have a limited number of venues and a lot of talent in the Spokane area, so we like to be there as an option for people to get on stage and get involved.”

Earlier this week the theater company held auditions for its next play, “I Hate Hamlet,” which opens in April. They also offer free readers’ theater performances in their Booklight series and will host the Short Play Festival, which will showcase original works by Spokane area playwrights.

To have a play considered, playwrights must meet requirements, as posted on the website, and submit their work by Feb. 28.

While they’re happy with their new home, Finlayson said they’re now looking for space to host the haunted house.

“We’re hoping to find a venue in the Valley so we can bring that back to the community again,” he said. “We’re having to make theater pay for theater and it’s not always easy.”

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