The Langham Adult Drama Club originated in the late 1970's when a handful of area residents, acting on their love of theater, took the initiative to form the organization. For the first ten years the club was very active performing bi-annually in the local high school auditorium.
The drama club was thrilled when the construction of the Langham Community Hall was completed as they not only had a huge stage to work on they also had a venue to store props, and were able to schedule meetings and rehearsals as required.
Funds from the club were invested in the hall; portable stage walls at first then the moveable, rotating walls that are still in use; stage lights, one bank at a time as funds allowed; sound equipment; stage drapes and instalation; and a stationary sound booth. The hall now boasts of a very elaborate sound system due entirely to the support the drama club received from the community.
Over time regular drama productions ceased while the club branched out by performing full-length plays in the Low German language, know as 'Plautdietsche' programs. These performances were unique in that Low German is not a written language, script was therefore very difficult to obtain. To overcome this hurdle several club members accepted the challenge of translating English plays into the Low German dialect. The result was over whelming. 'Plautdietsche' programs were held every two to three years with the attendance at each performance growing steadily. A highlight for the Low German Drama team was the invitation they received in 2000, to perform in Steinbach, Manitoba.
As Dinner Theater performances were becoming ever popular in and around the Langham area, the Drama Club regrouped and decided to organize such an event. A play was selected, a local caterer booked and the first Langham Adult Drama Club Dinner Theater performance was held in the fall of 1996. The performance was well received and has to date become an annual event, graduating from the original 2-nights performance to two nights on each of two consecutive weekends, to the 2004 performance which added a Sunday Brunch Matinee performance, and saw all five shows being 'sold out'.
Dinner Theater performances continue to be held annually on the first and second weekends of November.
Low German Theater History
In 1986 the newly constructed Langham Community Hall was struggling to make its payments, to that end the idea of a unique fundraiser, a Low German Evening or 'Plautdietsche Ovendt', was conceived. Several Low German speaking drama club members, myself included, branched off to form the Langham Low German Drama Club and staged the play, Ein Kleines Missverstaedniss. The play told the story of a wealthy rural couple that believed their, somewhat simple minded, daughter was the target of the local schoolmaster's attention. The couple was delighted when he approached them to ask for permission to marry their daughter. The plot however took a hilarious about turn with the couple's realization that their hired girl, not their daughter, was to be the schoolmaster's chosen bride. The event was overwhelmingly successful which gave the club the incentive to stage other such Low German evenings and the search for scrip began. Whenever we acquired enough material for a program, be it skits, a plays, poems, songs, or readings we would plan the event, advertise the program, and the audience came.
The demand for more Plautdietsche programs increased steadily; we were drawing our audiences not only from our local people and surrounding areas but inter-provincially as well. Our supporters were inviting their out of province relatives and friends to attend. We realized our clubs success and were willing to carry out our fan's wishes but finding script in the language was a huge problem. Eventually however, given the creativeness and the fortitude of the drama members, I presented them with an English play asking them to translate it into the Low German dialect. They willingly accepted the challenge and in 1993 Unkel Yakob's Yebrutsdach was preformed. It was the 'talk of the town' for years to follow.
Other such translated scripts resulted in performances of: Kodel Sein Enrisen in 1996; Met Famelya Halp 1999; and Breedaleev in 2000; these followed by the most recent performance in 2002; Morge Kjemmpt Deh Sonn Em Waste Up, written by Anne Funk.
The Low German Drama team, in addition to staging their own performances, happily accepted an invitation from the Steinbach Manitoba Players to perform at the 2000 Annual Low German Festival in Steinbach. The play Breedaleev received a standing ovation at the Festival's two packed-house performances.
In turn our club sponsored the Steinbach Players, under the direction of Wilmer Penner, on two occasions. Jietsbiedel, a romantic comedy, was preformed in the Langham Hall and the Valley Christian Academy in 2001 and the musical, Kjeisa oda Mikado Kjemt No Bloomnaut in 2003.
Those credited with the organization and facilitating of the Langham Low German Drama productions include several husband/wife teams; Allan and Sela Balzer; Mary and Emery Ens; Shirley and Stan Rosenfeldt; Tina and Orville Ens; as well as team members; Elaine Nemanishen; Elaine Friesen; and Linda Doucette.
These dedicated volunteers give generously of their time and talent toward keeping their 'mutta-sproak' alive and look forward to their next production……….hopefully soon.
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