The Remarkable Relationships Show

Laurie McCants: A Life in the Bloomsburg Theater Ensemble: Be Open to Surprise, Part 1

In our interview Laurie will tell us the story of her lifelong career that began in community theater and has spanned the globe. She began by following a renowned acting coach, Alvina Krause, to her retirement home in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, with classmates from Northwestern’s MFA in Acting program. They stayed and created an ensemble theater from which Laurie recently retired as an emeritus member. Her story is one of the magical mix of vision and grit shared in the ensemble, local cultural and financial benefactors and fertile soil in a welcoming community. The innate passions and talents of the ensemble opened doors that took them to Sub-Saharan Africa and around the globe.

LAURIE McCANTS co-founded the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (BTE) in 1978, where she co-created HARD COAL, OUR SHADOWS (a bilingual puppet play with Egypt’s Wamda), and SUSQUEHANNA: MIGHTY, MUDDY, CROOKED RIVER OF THE LONG REACH. In 1991, she performed with BTE in a US State Department-sponsored tour of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Botswana, and Namibia. In 2010, she was named an “Actor of Distinguished Achievement” through a Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowship (funded by the William & Eva Fox Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group). In 2015, she spent a month in Bali learning shadow puppetry and with WAMDA, an Egyptian puppet company, she co-created a bilingual play that toured to schools all over Pennsylvania and the surrounding states. She served as Board President of the national Network of Ensemble Theaters, and she serves as a Trustee on the Board of the national Theatre Communications Group. She was composer Julia Wolfe’s “coal region consultant” for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winner, ANTHRACITE FIELDS. In 2016, she accepted BTE’s “Outstanding Theatre” award from the National Theatre Conference. Her solo show INDUSTRIOUS ANGELS was presented at the Ko Festival of Performance in Amherst, Massachusetts in 2018, and at BTE in 2019. She is currently researching her new solo show, for which she received a Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts. Because of her work at Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska, she is an adopted Kiks.ádi Tlingit, Frog Clan, Raven Moiety. Her Tlingit name is Khaachguun.

 A link to an article that appeared in AMERICAN THEATRE MAGAZINE about her retirement: