With only months left in the final stage of construction at Ponoka Secondary Campus (PCS), students and teachers are eager to try out their new theatre.
“We’re almost finished (with) the renovation after five very long years,” said principal Ian Rawlinson.
The theatre, art and music rooms are on the verge of completion. Staff are just waiting for seating and some high tech tools to equip the theatre space.
“It actually has an LED screen in it that we can actually use as a backdrop. It’s a huge LED screen that we can actually project from the back,” said Rawlinson.
He expects many possible uses for the theatre including hosting movies, concerts and conferences. Seating capacity is about 160 people. The hope is to have the theatre ready and running by March, just in time for PCS’s production of Dracula.
“I think there’s just a real anticipation on the whole school to just get it done,” said Rawlinson.
Seating and technology are among the last of the major installations needed to complete the theatre. While the space is an exciting addition, it doesn’t come cheap.
Rawlinson said they had to make a strong case to Alberta Infrastructure to build the theatre. He feels there is a strong community benefit by having this theatre. That allowed for the structure alone, but to set it up for plays and other events, the school had to pay the rest.
“The seating alone in the theatre was almost $140,000,” said Rawlinson.
To help pay for those costs, Rawlinson is looking at possible fundraising programs. Administration is working on one idea for potential donors to become seat sponsors. Local bands could use the theatre as a venue to showcase their work as well.
Drama teacher Kevin Ferguson sees the new theatre as a way to develop young actors. Many already take part in Klaglahachie Fine Arts plays and they bring some skills to the high school plays.
“My vision has always been that we marry the two together in some capacity,” said Ferguson.
The idea to develop a theatre at the high school is not a new one. About 20 years ago, administration wanted to build one, but those ideas never became a reality until recently.
A look at the theatre space shows potential for some large productions. Ferguson says the space will be similar to what Greek theatre spaces, with the seating looking down on the stage. That seating will be retractable with a space for sound and light crews at the top, which will give them an important vantage point on productions.