Few things are as charming as Al fresco theatre and few venues quite as memorable as Blackie Spit in beautiful Crescent Beach, Surrey. The reason? The Beach House Theatre Society. We chatted with Artistic Director Candace Radcliffe to get the scoop on the municipality’s most scenic stage…
Tourism Surrey: Describe your occupation.
Candace Radcliffe: I’m in charge of setting the vision for our Theatre Company, helping to guide our overall event and directing our annual productions in Crescent Beach, BC. (During the school year, I’m also the Director of the Theatre program at Earl Marriott Secondary School.) I have the best jobs in the world.
TS: How long have you held this position?
CR: I started Beach House almost 5 years ago when I gathered in some of my closest colleagues to see if we could stage a little outdoor production of Shakespeare on the beach. We quickly grew to become a non-profit society with a wonderful Board of Directors and a dedicated and professional production team. We have staged 3 seasons of production in a tented theatre on Crescent Beach. Our shows have sold out every year and the community support for our event keeps growing stronger.
TS:How long have you been a part of the Surrey community?
CR: I grew up spending the summer months in Crescent Beach from the time I was a baby. That incredible summer community has been a huge part of my life. After university, I decided to live there full time. My husband grew up in White Rock and we both knew that we wanted to live in Crescent Beach and raise our kids there. We bought our house there in 2000 and we love everything about the community. It has been exciting to watch Surrey grow up and develop into such a dynamic city.
TS: What do you love about being a part of Surrey?
CR: Surrey is growing and developing in interesting ways all the time. It’s exciting to see how City Hall is working to improve neighbourhoods and opportunities all the time. I know that they are doing constant research about what makes great cities and ‘live-able’ cities and they are working to model that. The way they are looking to the arts to bring culture and opportunities for our citizens is tremendous. It feels like the arts and parks are really being valued as such important aspects of healthy living.
TS: What’s the most valuable thing you provide Surrey?
CR: We strive to provide an inspirational, cultural and artistic event right here in Surrey. Our event is unique in Surrey and it’s exposing thousands of people to the joy of watching live theatre, outdoors in the peak of summer. Audiences of all ages are happily making our shows an annual tradition for their summer holiday experience.
TS: What’s the most valuable thing Surrey provides you?
CR: The gorgeous natural beauty of our location is the true star of our show. Watching that sunset behind our stage is quite magical. Also, there are hundreds of really talented and creative artists and technicians living in Surrey who are thrilled to have the opportunity to work at their art in their own neighbourhood. And finally, the generosity and incredible support of the residents is amazing and essential to our success. The community has embraced us and made it possible for us to keep developing.
TS: What made you choose Surrey as the host city for your endeavors?
CR: When asked, “Why choose Surrey?” my answer is really, “Why NOT Surrey?” We have a city that is full of supporters of the arts as well as the talented professionals needed to make our event happen. Surrey is growing and families who move here want to make arts and culture part of their lives. People tell us all the time that they are so glad not to have to drive into Vancouver to go to an event like ours. With the level of excitement and support all around us, it is clear that Surrey is the place to be!
TS: How has Surrey inspired you?
CR: Crescent Beach is my favourite location in the world. It is natural and beautiful and it is a warm-hearted community. It is home in all ways. Professionally, I see (in both my jobs) that there are thousands of people right here locally who want to experience live theatre – it educates, entertains and inspires. Because Beach House began with Shakespeare, that also drew in curious and avid theatergoers alike. They were thrilled to have plays not often performed in Surrey brought to our own neighbourhood.
TS: What has changed the most about Surrey in the last ten years?
CR: The sheer amount of housing development and the influx of families moving out here from other urban centers. The people choosing to live in Surrey want and expect the same kinds of lifestyle, arts and cultural opportunities as are available in Vancouver and places like it.
TS: Tell us something about you that people may not know.
CR: Although I began as an actor, I am really quite shy and I battle that all the time in the work I do directing and speaking to large groups. I love, love Shakespeare but I also love many other classical poets and playwrights. I love Edgar Allen Poe and scary stories; I love to bring the ‘spooky’ story quality to life on stage. I am also a huge fan of classic TV! Seinfeld, The Office and Arrested Development are some of my go-to escapist favourites.
TS: Where do you imagine Surrey going in the next ten years?
CR: I see Surrey as continuing to grow with families moving here for the beauty of our neighbourhoods, parks and beaches, and I see the Arts Community growing with that. I know that the Arts Dept of the City of Surrey is committed to bringing the arts to life more and more in our city. They are working with arts organizations and developers to build new spaces for art to come alive, they are supporting events like ours and they are working to bring awareness of the arts all around the city.
TS: Anything else you’d like to share?
CR: Come and be a part of Beach House Theatre! We are always searching for dedicated volunteers, donors and corporate sponsors. The reality is that we cannot run our event on ticket sales alone. Donors and sponsors are essential. We need volunteers in key positions to help our Board. We need volunteers in all the little jobs that make our event happen from building our theatre in 5 days to cleaning it up in just one day. We want to attract actors in training to come and audition to be a part of the exciting shows we are doing. We are so proud to be a bridge between college level training and professional work in theatre. Follow our website and get involved!