Mother-daughter duo team up with old friends to spark theatre in city's west end

Mother and daughter Ann Lambert and ​Alice Abracen teamed up with friends Danielle Szydlowski and Laura Mitchell to create an artistic space for emerging theatre artists and established ones with new work.

Théâtre Ouest End is a new company that will aim to foster new local talent

From left to right: Danielle Szydlowski, Alice Abracen, Laura Mitchell and Ann Lambert. These four women are the founders of the new theatre company, Théâtre Ouest End. (Photo by Pavlo Tull )

​The newly minted Théâtre Ouest End is really a family affair. 

Mother and daughter Ann Lambert and Alice Abracen teamed up with friends Danielle Szydlowski and Laura Mitchell to create an artistic space for emerging theatre artists and established ones with new work.

Abracen has been involved with theatre her entire life, thanks to her mother.

"I've had the opportunity to work with my mother in theatre as a playwright, as an actor from a very young age which has been a delight and a treat and a privilege," she said.

Théâtre Ouest End, based out of Westmount United Church, describes itself as an intergenerational women's collective. 

It was officially launched on International Women's Day with the aim of beginning work on its inaugural project in the coming months.

Abracen calls the group a "haven" for people trying to find their voices.

"We're keen to foster artists who haven't historically received much support," she said.

The company, which launched earlier this month, has big plans.

Among other things, the group is hoping to work with seniors in the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce area to create a brand new piece of theatre based on their experiences.

"We're going to be inviting seniors to take part in writing workshops," said Abracen. "They are going to have the chance to tell their own stories, share their stories, shape them. They will have the chance to become playwrights."

Along with Lambert, who has been a playwright and director for 35 years, and Szydlowski, who is a childhood friend of Abracen's and fellow graduate of the National Theatre School, Laura Mitchell rounds out the fourth member of the team.

Laura Mitchell is an actor and writer, and teaches English at Dawson College.  (Brian Lapuz/CBC)

Mitchell, an actor and writer who teaches English at Dawson College, told CBC's Homerun that the creation of this company was something she'd wanted to do for a long time.

"We have two generations of women coming together to make different kinds of theatre," she said. "The idea of being able to help people tell their stories has been a long-time dream of mine."

She said the company wants to reach out to a diverse group of people and invite them to get involved.

"These stories get lost sometimes," she said. "When somebody actually hears their own stories told — it's such validation."

With files from CBC's Homerun