It’s been a year since Grindstone Theatre opened as a space Edmonton’s comedians and improv peeps could call their own, and the two brothers behind it are planning a party to celebrate. Along with other members of the theatre’s staff, the brothers Martin recently took part in a frosting-filled photoshoot to promote the celebration.
Byron Martin, founder and artistic director of Grindstone, started things off in 2011 with The 11 O’Clock Number―an improv musical―as a weekly show at the old Varscona Theatre. From there, Grindstone Theatre was incorporated as a non-profit, and they started teaching classes, and putting on musicals in addition to the weekly show. They also started touring and developed some shows for the Fringe circuit.
“And then as we sort of moved homes and rented spaces, it became clear that we needed a space for our show,” Byron says.
His brother, Joses Martin, had been on the board of directors since Grindstone incorporated, and stepped up to help Byron create a space.
“I was doing some stand-up, and that kind of thing, and just kind of knew that the community was in need of more of an independent space that was pretty small, that could throw some shows that were under 100 people,” Joses says.
Turning the former off-Whyte warehouse into a comedy club was a family affair, as the Martins’ dad came on as the general contractor.
“Our parents made the tables,” Joses says.
The theatre opened on April 7, 2018 and now runs 14 shows a week. Byron takes care of programming, while Joses has become the general manager, and is responsible for the bar and restaurant.
The brothers say that the response from Edmontonians has been positive.
“The main complaint that we get is ‘Why haven’t I heard of this place?’” Byron says.
Building off its success so far, Grindstone is also holding its first ever Comedy Fest from May 8 to 12, which will feature comedians such as Mike Delamont (God Is a Scottish Drag Queen), Graham Clark (The Debaters), Peter Oldring (This Is That), and Rebecca Kohler (Happy Together).
To celebrate the theatre’s one-year anniversary, the Martins have planned a karaoke birthday party.
“We do karaoke every Thursday here, which is like one of the funnest events,” Byron says. “The great thing about the space is that there are so many shows going on, but the artists want to hang out and have a social place to have fun and drink, and network and stuff like that. So we find that karaoke every Thursday is one of our favourite nights because the artists come out, and, I mean, we should be charging tickets, because everyone is really good.”
“It’s just a karaoke room full of awesome performers,” Joses adds.
The brothers had plenty of cake on hand for the birthday photo shoot―a lot of it ended up on their faces―but there will also be free cake the night of the celebration for anyone who wants to come out and join in the karaoke.
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