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2016_JULY_FT_HOUSE_AD_1/ 2hor.indd 1 2016-06-03 3:56PM
I T IS A dramatic change to go from a
steady paycheque, working as a banker
in a downtown Calgary office tower,
to working as a Christian artist. That’s
exactly what Val Lieske, playwright,
author and speaker, has done.
Lieske doesn’t consider her
experience in the corporate world lost
time. It has allowed her to follow her
passion for the arts.
“To be successful as an artist in the
long term requires tenacity, a strong
work ethic, knowing how to promote
yourself, how to find work, create a
budget and do your taxes,” says Lieske.
“As I explain to students pursuing a
career in the arts, you are now your
One of Lieske’s proudest
achievements as a Christian artist
is the founding of Fire Exit Theatre
The nonprofit, faith-based theatre
company is in its 14th season. Every
year Lieske says there’s something
that reminds her it’s more than just
“It might be an usher who says, ‘I’ve
never thought about God like that
before,’ or an audience member who
says, ‘Because of the performance I
had an amazing conversation about
faith with my friend on the way home.’
If you’re not challenged or changed
a little by the experience, then I feel I
have failed as a storyteller.”
Since Fire Exit Theatre is a labour of
love and doesn’t pay all the bills, Lieske
has several part-time jobs. As well as
being responsible for theatre arts and
creative communications at Centre
Street Church, she is also the associate
director of the theatre program at
Ambrose University, and an adjunct
instructor at Alberta Bible College.
Lieske, who studied theatre and
speech, says she was drawn to theatre
arts because of how it allows you to
relate directly to the audience.
“I love the power of the medium.
There’s something about being in
the room during a live performance,
because you’re sharing a very real,
tangible experience with the audience.
Once a video has been recorded, it won’t
change, but if you see a performance 12
times, it will change a little each time.”
Her advice to Christian artists?
“Put art in your faith and faith in your
art.”–J. PAUL COOPER
From the office to the stage
Calgary theatre founder puts her faith into art
play wright and
author Val Lieske