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Comedy generated by antics of anti-social couple

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A playwright who learned to love the theatre while growing up in Fort Richmond is exploring relationships through her new comedy.

Jessy Ardern, 23, penned Harold and Vivian Entertain Guests, which is part of Sarasvàti Productions’ FemFest 2013 and premiered at the festival Sept. 15. She’s currently in Edmonton at the University of Alberta studying fine art to become an actress, and until now had never written a play by herself. She said writing without a partner was a different process.

"When I’m on my own I write a lot all at once, then I go back and edit," said Ardern. "I never have any plan when I’m writing on my own."

Harold and Vivian Entertain Guests is about a couple who don’t like entertaining guests and barely like each other, but got married out of spite.

"It’s a show kind of with one foot in the clown tradition," said Ardern. "So it’s kind of a very over-the-top, silly show about a couple who is a little agoraphobic, and as they are sitting at home arguing, the doorbell rings and their new yuppie neighbours come over to say hello. From there, chaos ensues."

There isn’t an obvious moral to the story, Ardern just hopes it makes people laugh. She said laughter can go a long way in a theatre.

"I think when you are sitting in a theatre (full of people) who are watching live action, who are all engaged at the same time and who are all laughing at the same time it creates a community, even if it’s just for a moment," said Ardern.

Ardern grew up in Thompson, later moving with her family to St. James, and the family eventually ended up in Fort Richmond. Ardern attended Vincent Massey Collegiate. She said, without the programs there, she wouldn’t be where she is today.

"Vincent Massey was a big part of me becoming involved in the theatre," said Ardern. "It has a great program, it has great teachers, and it’s got a nice variety. It’s a school that does a lot of theatre, dance, and improv so I could really get a good taste of a bit of everything."

Though Ardern is studying to become an actress, she said she’ll continue to write when she has the time.

"I do both," said Ardern. "I can’t imagine doing just one or the other. So I’m trying to keep writing while I’m here."

Harold and Vivian Entertain Guests, directed by Brenda McLean, will have its last showing Sept. 21 at 4 p.m. at the University of Winnipeg Asper Centre for Theatre and Film (400 Colony St.) Tickets cost $10.

For more information or to discover other FemFest acts, visit sarasvati.ca/fem-fest/fem-fest-home

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