The final curtain for UFV theatre

On Saturday I attended what is probably the last ever performance at the University of the Fraser Valley Theatre in Chilliwack. The play, The Romeo Initiative was a tragically fitting last show, with its allusions to the secretive dystopian regime of a Cold War East Germany. It was superbly performed and staged by members of the Chilliwack Players Guild; for there is no longer a University Theatre program in Chilliwack, this has moved to Abbotsford, where it is yet to find a theatre.

On Saturday I attended what is probably the last ever performance at the University of the Fraser Valley Theatre in Chilliwack. The play, The Romeo Initiative was a tragically fitting last show, with its allusions to the secretive dystopian regime of a Cold War East Germany. It was superbly performed and staged by members of the Chilliwack Players Guild; for there is no longer a University Theatre program in Chilliwack, this has moved to Abbotsford, where it is yet to find a theatre.

Driving through the detritus of the fenced construction site was also somewhat surreal. Wire fences and the construction/destruction further adding to the sombre mood of this last of all nights. The mood slightly lightened by the impression that they seem to be building a village for Hobbits, judging by the smallness of the units and their closeness.

Moving past the familiar but doomed, contributed to the surreal quality of the night.

The Shakespeare Garden is still growing – loved but untended – and waits unlit for the machines of destruction.

The foyer of the theatre still trumpets the successes of years gone by, never to be repeated, frozen in time.

A board proudly displays the achievements of the ghosts of the alumni and scholarships freely donated by members of the Chilliwack artistic community.

I sat next to friends who had attended the very first performance at the theatre. They were in seats that they dedicated to the memories of their deceased loved ones. If sadness can give weight to the very air, it did that night.

We have heard that this beautiful well designed theatre is to be gutted and the building become a storage unit. Will the love, care and donations of the patrons in Chilliwack somehow continue to inhabit that space?

At the beginning of my letter I alluded to a dystopian regime. We have repeatedly been told that the destruction of the theatre and the move of the theatre program to Abbotsford is good for all concerned.

It is not good for Chilliwack and engenders a cold anger in those of us who have contributed time or money to our doomed theatre.

The cancellation of the Directors Festival, the withdrawal of support for the Ashland Theatre tours, the move to the South campus and then to Abbotsford, in retrospect all seem steps towards cancelling the theatre program.

Farewell theatre of the University of the Fraser Valley.

Ralph Jones

Chilliwack Progress