Lacombe's Cow Patti Theatre benefits the community

COw PAtti theatre company, including AnnaMarie Lea (second from left), presents benefit show recipients with monies raised over the course of their production of "The Odd Couple" at the Lacobme Golf and Country Club on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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A production full of feel good moments has created the opportunity for at least a few more through their benefit program.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cow Patti Theatre Company presented their benefit recipients with $27,000, all raised during their production of “The Odd Couple” during the first half of their 2018-19 season.

“It’s an opportunity to pass back the monies raised for them, acknowledge the relationship and how grateful I am to have and use them as a voice to better the community  in such a wonderful, happy way,” said Cow Patti Artistic Director AnnaMarie Lea.

The timing of handing over the funds raised perhaps couldn’t have come at a better time for Lea, however, who just recently went to the opening show of Alberta Theatre Projects’ Café Daughter in Calgary.

While there, she overheard some of the other audience members express how fortunate they were to have Alberta Theatre Projects put on such a “profound” play, and have that voice in Canadian Theatre. Lea said she felt a little “country bumpkin” at first, and asked herself if she was doing enough to have a voice in Canadian Theatre, given Cow Patti has always  put on more comedic, feel good shows.

She said she soon came to the realization, however, that Cow Patti’s impact and “voice” in the community is shown in a different way.

“I thought: ‘Am I doing enough?’” she said. “Then I said, no, I am doing enough, because even though our shows aren’t necessarily profound and how we need to make things right in society, the benefit program is that voice in Cow Patti.

“Even though we don’t profess on stage human rights, we acknowledge and encourage people to get bed pans from the Lending Cupboard, or to read books…facilitate kids going to camp or creating the arts in our community.”

Cast members of Cow Patti Theatre Company’s production of “The Odd Couple” rehearse a scene prior to opening night. Pictured (left to right) are John Dickhout, Garfield Andrews, Liam Collins, Mark Burgues and Eric Finlayson. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

As for how benefits became part of Cow Patti – which is now in its 22nd season – Lea says it began in 1997 when they put on Pulitzer-prize winning “Crimes of the Heart” and she had the urge to raise money for the community. At the time, the Lacombe Hospital and Care Centre was looking to raise money for a heart monitor, and their first benefit show became a reality, and they’ve carried on the tradition ever since.

Recipients for the first half of the season include the Make a Move with Jagger Foundation, Caroline Seniors Centre, Kasota East Camp, the Bentley Library Society, the Lending Cupboard, the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre, as well as the Sawyer Kiist Passion for Life Bursary.

The Sawyer Kiist Passion for Life Bursary was established in honour of former Cow Patti actor, the late Sawyer Kiist. Applications are now being accepted, and three recipients be awarded $1,000 each at Cow Patti’s last show of the season.

However, Cow Patti’s season is only halfway done, and their second show – appropriately named “Halfway There” – will open on Thursday, March 14. Created by Canadian playwright Norm Foster, it’s set in a small-town Nova Scotia cafe, and centres on four women

The Lacombe Globe will have a preview in February, closer to opening night, however tickets are already on sale, with some shows already  on the verge of being sold out.

For more information, visit the Cow Patti website at www.cowpatti.com.

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