By Jessica Messerer-Trosin
Laurie Harder is currently in his sixth season with Western Canada Theatre (WCT). He’s not an actor, but one of the many people who work behind the scenes to bring the productions to life.
Harder began at WCT when one of his friends suggested he try ushering. Shortly after that he started spending his time in the workshop.
With a background in construction, carpentry and furniture building, helping with set building was a perfect fit for him.
“There’s a sense of satisfaction when you get to sit out in the audience and go, ‘yeah, I had a hand in doing that. That’s my door,’” he said.
Depending on the intricacy of the props required for a show, Harder might spend up to four days per week working on pieces for the set.
Typically the pre-Christmas show has the most detailed set. These are his favourite projects to work on.
“They’re always a lot more involved,” he said.
Although he had no previous experience in theatre, woodworking has always been a part of Harder’s life.
His father was a contractor, so Harder helped him on the job sites growing up. He’s also always had his own workshop to work on projects like building furniture.
Harder’s favourite thing about volunteering at WCT are the people who he gets to work with regularly.
“There’s a lot of wonderful volunteers who work down there. A lot of people put a lot of time in,” he said.
“It’s a whole group of people who make what you see on the stage happen.”
As an usher, Harder gets to see every production.
On the Wednesdays before the shows open, ushers and a guest are invited to watch the dress rehearsal.
Usually they’ll get to see the shows again during the performances depending on how busy they are.
Set building isn’t the only type of project Harder works on regularly. A few years ago he started making kilts, which he wears most days.
Each one is entirely hand sewn and takes 30 to 40 hours to complete. He’s made about ten kilts so far.
“As I’m getting better at it, my time is coming down a bit,” he said.
Harder’s 35-year career with the B.C. Ambulance Service took him all over B.C. He started out in Vancouver where he was born and grew up. Then he moved to Kelowna and lastly to Kamloops where he now lives with his wife.
Besides WCT, Harder is a volunteer official for track and field.
He was also a volunteer with Search and Rescue for 10 years and spent almost 15 years volunteering with the 2141, Kamloops’ historical locomotive.
“Things come up and I just go and do them. If somebody needs help, go and give them a hand,” Harder said.
For the time being, Harder plans to stay with the WCT. He’s currently working on a few smaller projects for the first show of the new season which will be at the Pavilion Theatre, opening in September.
As far as giving acting a try, Harder said he’s happier behind the scenes.
“In fourth grade I was the winged-warrior in the school play and I remember I was terrified.”