In 1976, Sara Stanley, an instructor at Medicine Hat College, and some of her students formed Firehall Theatre which produced one-act plays, performed over the lunch hour, hence Lunch Box Theatre was born. Its first play, "Box and Cox" was presented in the old fire hall in the bottom of the then City Hall, which inspired the name of the theatre company. This was a new format for Medicine Hat, as people were asked to bring their own lunches or purchase a snack lunch at the show. Show time for the productions was 12:15, and the plays were short enough to be completed over the lunch hour. Ronnie Burkett, Brian Quinn, and Karolyn Harker were all part of the cast of this first Firehall Lunch Box Theatre production. Lunch Box Theatre continued to present lunch time productions successfully for many years.
Firehall Theatre also produced "The Mousetrap", a three act play, in 1976, to evening audiences in the fire hall. In 1979, the City needed the space, and Firehall Theatre was evicted. Lunch Box Theatre productions moved to the basement of Fifth Avenue United Church. Five lunch time productions, one youth musical, and a full-length production were presented that year. The College Drama program, under Sara Stanley, continued to be integral to this theatre company. In addition to the drama students, school drama teachers and experienced veterans contributed acting and directing talent. There was also a very active and knowledgeable Board of Directors to provide administrative and financial support.
By 1980, Fifth Avenue United Church was home to the four or five Lunch Box Theatre productions and longer theatre productions in the evenings. In winter, the Firehall Theatre productions were sometimes dinner theatre events held at the Continental Inn or wherever suitable space was available and suitable. The original group of students had moved on, but Sara Stanley continued to produce light one act plays for the lunch time audience. In 1981, Sara Stanley moved to Lethbridge. In the fall of 1983, Firehall Theatre presented "A Gift of Love" for the opening of the new Medicine Hat Cultural Centre. Subsequently they produced many plays in the Black Box Theatre in that centre. Lunch Box Theatre continued in Fifth Avenue Church through the summer of 1984. In 1985, the lunch time productions ceased and emphasis was placed on the longer plays. Through 1988 and 1989 there were no productions of any type from Firehall Theatre. In October 1990 a merger was discussed between Firehall Theatre and Medicine Hat Musical Theatre, but no merger took place as Firehall Theatre was financially sound.
In 1993, Firehall Theatre began working with the Royal Antediluvian Order of the Buffaloes to produce several pantomimes at the College Theatre. A pantomime is a musical-comedy theatrical production traditionally performed for family audiences, incorporating song, dance, slapstick, cross-dressing, in-jokes, and audience participation. The pantomime is always based on a traditional children's story adapted for comic and satirical effect. The lead female roles are played by males and the male roles by females.
-Taken from the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre Archives
Some of the pantomimes included "Cinderella", "Sleeping Beauty", "Aladdin", "Humpty-Dumpty", "Babes in the Wood", "Jack and the Beanstork".