Play nods to First World War centenary


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This year’s Remembrance Day will mark the centenary of the end of First World War, the kind of occasion not typically acknowledged on Winnipeg theatre stages.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 08/11/2018 (1601 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

This year’s Remembrance Day will mark the centenary of the end of First World War, the kind of occasion not typically acknowledged on Winnipeg theatre stages.

But, it is observed with the Theatre Projects Manitoba production of Mary’s Wedding, a two-person play about an English immigrant (played by Winnipeg actor Sarah Flynn), a young Alberta farmer (Justin Fry) and their tragic wartime romance.

The drama is the work of Stephen Massicotte, a Canadian playwright from Ontario who attended the University of Calgary “and then I stayed out there.

“It’s kind of strange that I call myself a Calgarian,” he says.

Currently, Massicotte lives and works in New York City on a green card and he admits that’s largely due to the ongoing success of Mary’s Wedding since it was first produced by Calgary’s Alberta Theatre Projects in 2002.

“It played at Westport, Conn., and was reviewed very well on the New York Times and then my play The Oxford Roof Climber’s Rebellion played off-Broadway and was very well reviewed too.”

Mary’s Wedding gets done a lot in the States.”

The reason for that may be demonstrated by the Theatre Projects Manitoba production, which has been touring throughout tiny venues in the Interlake since early October before touching down at Winnipeg’s Rachel Browne Theatre. It may be big in its themes, but it’s portable in its production.

“It has a strange quality about it,” Massicotte says. “I had originally written it to be a fringe show. You can do it with 10 feet of space and it can also fill a bigger theatre. It’s been booked in high schools and tiny little theatre companies looking to do three nights of a show to longer four-to-six week runs.

“In the first couple of years, it played all the major theatres in the country and now it’s largely little community theatres and small professional theatres starting out.”

He says the secret of the show’s success may be in its ability to simultaneously attract more sophisticated theatregoers, as well as theatre novices.

“I think it does resonate with people who don’t go to the theatre a lot,” he says.

“I remember somebody said to me: ‘That was the best movie I ever saw.’ In his head, he had seen the scope and size of this big, epic film.

“More sophisticated theatre audiences kind of like the structure to it — the magic of how it works. And people who don’t see as much theatre really fall in love with that as well.

“It kind of appeals to all ages too,” he says. “It’s strange.”

Massicotte, who has dabbled in writing screenplays with director John Fawcett (The DarkGinger Snaps Back) allows there has been an “uptick” of productions connected to Remembrance Day.

“But it’s not strictly war stories like Saving Private Ryan,” he says. “Strangely, it’s less about the war than it is about Mary, this young girl coming to terms with this huge event that happened in the middle of her life.

“It tends to get booked around Remembrance Day and obviously you see the connection,” he says.

“It can be put together for events and community outreach and things like that.

“But there haven’t been too many times in the last 10 or 12 years where there hasn’t been a Mary’s Wedding playing somewhere,” he says.

randall.king@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @FreepKing

Randall King

Randall King

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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