News / Edmonton

'Think the Fringe, but year round': Renos start on new independent comedy bar and theatre

The Grindstone wants to provide opportunities for emerging artists of all stripes

Grindstone Theatre art director Byron Martin is opening a new comedy theatre space near Whyte.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

Grindstone Theatre art director Byron Martin is opening a new comedy theatre space near Whyte.

After a long search for a venue to call home, the organizers behind a new independent, non-profit comedy bar and theatre is picking up the keys to new off-Whyte storefront this Friday.

But before the sledgehammers fly, the Grindstone Comedy Bar wants to give supporters a look at the new space at 10019 81 Ave, which formerly housed Old Hippy Wood Products.

The Friday night open house will also be one last fundraising push to get the space ready for a spring opening.

“There’s already been a huge amount of interest from Edmonton’s indie theatre scene. We’ll host two to three shows a night and 12 shows a week, with over 20 independent producers sharing the space,” says Grindstone Theatre artistic director Byron Martin.

“It falls in line with our mission to provide professional opportunities for emerging artists,” he said, adding that they plan to host everything from sketch comedy and improve to burlesque, variety shows and clowns.

“We’re not taking artistic control, just providing an affordable space for artists that otherwise wouldn’t have one. Think the Fringe, but year-round.”

Local producer and director Neil Grahn will be producing a weekly improv show, and says the new space will be great addition to the local comedy scene.

“It’s a community hub, a space to showcase new work – and there’s a bar!”

Byron Martin in front of the new off-Whyte location

Kevin Tuong/For Metro

Byron Martin in front of the new off-Whyte location

Company president Anand Pye adds that it’ll be an easy introduction to live shows for the audience too.

“It’s going to create a really accessible space for people. You can come out for a drink and a snack, and stay for a show for under $30,” he said.

The space has raised over $145, 000 from grants and fundraising and is hoping to raise the final $90,000 by next spring.

That final money will be used to create a patio, indoor mural, and signage – with naming rights still up for grabs.

The Grindstone open house is 5-8p.m. on Friday, Dec 15. Inauguration by Martin and sneak preview performances at 6:30p.m.

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