Danette Boucher – Artistic Director, Playwright, Performer
Danette Boucher graduated from the University of Victoria’s Theatre Program in 1989 with a BFA in Theatre, specializing in Acting. Upon graduation she was immediately hired by renowned BC historian John Adams and curator Jennifer Iredale (former Director of British Columbia’s Heritage Branch) to be the first ever actor/interpreter at the Victoria Rediscovery Society’s Emily Carr House, the birthplace and childhood home of BC artist and author Emily Carr. Danette went on to create historically interpretive programming for all of the Heritage Branch sites managed by the Victoria Rediscovery Society, including Emily Carr House, Helmcken House, Craigflower Farm and Schoolhouse, Point Ellice House and Tod House.
During this time Danette created a fully theatrical, interactive public and school program called A Helmcken Family Christmas that ran for more than a decade and ultimately became a seasonal tradition for many Vancouver Island residents and their guests. She also developed (or co-developed) the following interactive interpretive public and/or school programs: 1859 School Days, In Grandfather’s Attic and Auntie’s Kitchen, An Art Lesson with Emily Carr, Halloween at Craigflower and the travelling school program The Mystery of the Old Suitcase.
Inspired by her work in museums, Danette returned to UVic in 1991 to complete a Museum Studies program that would complement her growing interest in heritage-based theatre. For several years afterward she was able to sustain a career in traditional stage work as well as continue working with museums and heritage sites, but her growing interest in the latter began to take precedence.
Danette continued working in Victoria until 1993, when she was invited by Taylor-Wood Productions to play the role of Barkerville pioneer Florence Wilson for the company’s inaugural season as producers of the Historical Street Interpretation Program at Barkerville Historic Town & Park. By 1995 Danette had moved into the role of Artistic Manger of the “Street” and remained in this position until Taylor-Wood Productions (later Eureka Theatre Company) retired in 2003.
In 1999 Danette transferred her evolving approach to historical interpretation back to the traditional stage by forming Histrionics Theatre Co. and, under its banner, writing, producing and performing her first historically-themed one-woman play, The Great Love of Queen Victoria. Danette’s solo performance won rave reviews during its initial Vancouver International Fringe Festival run, and was nominated for a Jesse Richardson award for Outstanding Production in 2000. Several critically-lauded runs of Queen Victoria have followed, and CBC Television selected it as one of the top two productions (of more than 150) at the 2006 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. Histrionics Theatre Co. has continued its success as a producer of quality, historically interpretive plays and events, and has become the official in-house production company for the BC Legislative Assembly’s Parliamentary Players theatrical equation program.
In 2004 Danette worked as a performer, historical interpreter, and interpretation consultant for Storyeum, a multi-media BC History “experience” located in the heart of Vancouver’s Gastown.
In 2006 Danette decided her interest and experience in museum theatre would transition well into a Master of Arts graduate degree program, and began studies toward an MA in Applied Theatre at the University of Victoria under the supervision of Applied Theatre scholar Dr. Warwick Dobson. In January of 2011 Danette successfully defended her thesis.
In 2007, while fulfilling a credit in Directing for her MA, it occurred to Danette that a play about the town of Wells, performed in Wells, might be another exciting way to explore her ideas about historical interpretation. It was an opportunity to write the show she had been thinking about for a very long time. Through countless trips to various archives to pore over newspaper clippings, letters, ledgers, scrapbooks, etc., and through oral histories and personal anecdotes provided by Wells residents past and present, Danette began to get a feel for Fred Marshall Wells, a man whose story deserves to be much more than a footnote in BC’s history.
The Fred Wells Show premiered in the summer of 2007 at the recently restored Sunset Theatre in Wells, BC and was later a featured production at the 2008 Victoria Fringe Theatre Festival (where it received a BC150 Years grant that allowed selected performances to be offered to the public at no charge, in order to stimulate the attendance of those British Columbia residents who wanted to hear their own stories told, but who might not otherwise have had opportunity to go to the theatre). The Sunset Theatre made The Fred Wells Show a regular part of its seasonal offerings in 2008, and in 2009 the production was invited to play for an audience of 450 international baccalaureate students at Armand Hammer’s United World College of the American West, in Montezuma, New Mexico.
From 2007 to 2009 Danette worked for the Royal British Columbia Museum as a writer, program developer, and performer. She was initially hired to interpret the role of “Unsinkable” Margaret Tobin Brown in the RBCM’s blockbuster Titanic: the Artifact Exhibit (she was one of the first-ever historical interpreters utilized by RMS Titanic, Inc.’s traveling Titanic exhibit). Danette went on to co- create the museum’s first theatre-based Christmas program and the storytelling component of Free Spirit: Stories of You, Me and BC for British Columbia’s sesquicentennial in 2008. Danette also developed a fully-realized Applied Theatre secondary school program in conjunction with the Free Spirit exhibit, called “What We Leave Behind,” utilizing the most up-to-date, leading edge drama-in-education techniques.
In 2010 Danette brought her popular interpretation of Miss Florence Wilson back to Barkerville Historic Town, where her one-woman play, The Bride of Barkerville, enjoyed a three-month run as part of Newman & Wright’s Theatre Royal summer season.
In 2011 The Bride of Barkerville was remounted for a second summer seasonal run at the Theatre Royal, and Danette was invited to act as both dramaturge and performer in two of the theatre’s other seasonal productions.
As part of the National Historic Site’s 150th anniversary celebrations in 2012, Danette premiered Lady Overlander, the story of Catherine O’Hare Schubert’s five-month walking trip from Winnipeg to the Cariboo Goldfields, at the Theatre Royal in Barkerville. Lady Overlander was remounted at the Theatre Royal for a ten week run in the summer of 2013, and enjoyed a repertory engagement at the Sunset Theatre in July and August of 2014.
Aside from her work in museums and heritage sites, Danette has produced, directed and/or written several stage productions and film projects, including Boy Meets Girl-Girl Meets Elvis, Kaliban, The Saints of British Rock, and Victoria’s Tour Through Time.
Histrionics Theatre Co.
2346 Pooley Street | Wells, BC