Alberta’s theatre community is mourning the loss of Alberta Theatre Projects‘ executive and artistic director, Darcy Evans, who passed away on Wednesday, after being diagnosed with cancer in March.
“The kind of cancer Darcy had, they called it a lightning strike,” Darcy’s partner Andrew Scanlon said. “It’s a diagnosis that has no warning, there are no factors that contribute to it, it’s nothing genetic.”
“It just happened and it happened to Darcy.”
Evans was named ATP’s artistic director in 2018, directing and deciding which productions would make their way into the Martha Cohen Theatre.
“Darcy has this innate capacity to see the elements of something and to see them completed in a finished product and I guess that has to do with vision,” Scanlon said. “He had a very clear sense of where he wanted to take this theatre.”
Evans’ career took him across Canada and to different countries around the globe. He spent time on Broadway, participating in U.S. national tours and worked nine seasons at the Stratford Festival.
During his time at ATP, he directed productions including The New Canadian Curling Club, The Wedding Party, and The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe.
The latter became the top-selling show in the company’s history.
“It just felt like magic on stage,” ATP’s general manager Kyle Russell said. “We were really lucky that Darcy was able to direct that and bring some of his talents to the Alberta Theatre Projects’ stage and Calgary audiences.
“When I think of Darcy, personally he was a really good mentor to our creative team — all our staff, myself as well.”
Evans was also responsible for improving the company’s financial outlook by bolstering ticket sales and setting a 10-year record for subscription sales.
“When he came here there was quite a large deficit and he was able to eliminate $100,000 in debt in two years,” Russell said. “He was in love with the theatre, he loved our audiences, he loved our staff.”
Meanwhile, those close to Evans say he kept his cancer diagnosis private and continued to work while receiving treatment, choosing to stay focused on the task at hand.
Read more: Alberta Theatre Projects in financial crisis
“He wanted the work to continue and he knew it was a critical time for the theatre,” Scanlon said. “I would watch as he would go to a treatment and then he would do a zoom meeting and he would have ideas… and he never wanted it to let him stop him.
“I’m so proud of him. He would have 14 ideas about the theatre before I even started making coffee.”
Sadly, Evans died days after his 50th birthday, unable to realize his dream of bringing the production Peter Pan to the stage.
“I had written the adaptation and we were creating it together,” Scanlon explained. “My hope is that we will see it on the stage and that his vision and our work together will be expressed in that production.
“What I want to do most is remember him. He made my life exciting and he made a lot of peoples’ lives exciting.”