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Theatre Outré celebrating 10-year anniversary in Lethbridge with Quaint, Quirky and Queer festival

It's been 10 years since Lethbridge's only queer theatre company began hosting artists from the city's LGBTQ2S+ community and this year's festival is expected to be the biggest yet. It's been 10 years since Lethbridge's only queer theatre company began hosting artists from the city's LGBTQ2S+ community and this year's festival is expected to be the biggest yet.

Lethbridge's only queer theatre company has faced hardships and challenges since opening its doors in 2012, but that hasn't stopped the team at Theatre Outré from doing what they love – providing an open space to perform.

"The space that Theatre Outré has created in Lethbridge is really, really rare and really, really precious," said actress Ash Thomson. "I know, for myself, having this community of people has sort of given me strength to challenge some of those really common social narratives."

The team at Outré is putting the final touches on its upcoming Quaint, Quirky and Queer Cabaret and Festival.

"We're excited to be able to provide a space and a platform for these voices to be heard," said Jay Whitehead, co-founder of Outré.

This year's festival, which features a French-language show, improv and two featured productions, has a deeper meaning than in previous years as it marks the theatre's 10th anniversary.

"I would've never guessed that back in 2012, when we took our first production of My Funny Valentine to the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival that we would bring that magic home and create a theatre company right here in Lethbridge," Whitehead said.

Moving locations in 2013 to Didi's Playhaus, Whitehead says the road to where the company is now has been bumpy.

"We have dealt with detractors and scandals as one does when you put yourself out there, but in the end, the Lethbridge community has always been supportive of us," Whitehead said.

Outré pushes the boundaries of sexual and gender norms through shows, while making space that tells stories from diverse backgrounds and celebrating the queer community.

"It's easy, especially in southern Alberta, to feel there is a homogenize story that people always kind of do the same things and their lives follow the same steps," Thomson said.

"Being a part of this community has given me sort of the strength and courage to question those kinds of things and that's been really life-changing."

The company looks to elevate the community with its mandate, offering an uncompromising voice to those in its community.

"For us to have a place and be able to share that with other local artists of all kinds and all walks of life and give them a place to showcase things is really important," said Deonie Hudson, interim artistic director for Outré.

This year's festival features a range of performances including electronic music.

"I really wanted to blend together various media that I enjoy working with, so visual effects and electronic music production as well as performance," said Lyndsay Labrecque, who is also known DJ Rabbyt.

"I've been able to do all of my passions that I have individually and with this year being the 10th year it's kind of cool to have brought everything together at the end."

The festival will also feature a more common form of theatre – improv.

"Throughout the 10 years that we have done shows with Outré, whether it's an improv show, whether it's a full-scale production, we've told a lot of different stories," said David Gabert, impromptu coordinator at Outré.

"Some are beautiful, some are heartwarming, some are tragic, but they all show a different viewpoint and a different voice that’s important to get out to get out there to the community."

With dozens of shows in the books, the team is looking forward to growing both the theatre and the community in the years to come.

"We have a ways to go as a company as there's more stories to share that we haven't quite gotten to yet and we're just excited to see what the next generation; what the next 10 years of Theatre Outré looks like," Whitehead said.

Quaint, Quirky and Queer Festival runs from April 6 to 22 at various locations downtown. A full list of events and tickets can be found here. Top Stories

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