(File photo) Kaitlan Hunter rehearses for Jewel, a one-woman play directed by Ann Skelhorne, at the Shuswap Theatre.

Seven performances in seven days

For Canada’s 150th anniversary, Shuswap Theatre hosts seven Canadian plays in seven days

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation, Shuswap Theatre in Salmon Arm will host seven Canadian plays in seven days at the 2017 Theatre BC Okanagan Zone Drama Festival May 20-26.

The Plays

Saturday, May 20: Jewel by Joan MacLeod is presented by Shuswap Theatre of Salmon Arm. Directed by Elizabeth Ann Skelhorne, Jewel is a powerful and hopeful one-woman play based on a real life catastrophe – the sinking of the Ocean Ranger oil rig in 1982. In a grippingly honest and articulate monologue addressed to her dead husband, Marjorie, played by Kaitlan Hunter, searches through miseries and comes across the unexpected resilience of her own heart. First produced at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto in 1987 with the playwright in the starring role, Jewel was nominated for Best New Play for both the Chalmers and Dora Mavor Moore Awards.

Sunday, May 21: Half Life by John Mighton is presented by Asparagus Theatre of Armstrong. Paul Kirkwood-Hackett directs a cast of four women and three men. Half Life, winner of the 2005 Governor General’s Literary Award and the 2006 Carol Bolt Award, is the story of two nursing home residents, both in their eighties, who meet and fall in love, rekindling what might have been a wartime romance. Half Life premiered at Tarragon Theatre in 2005 and was co-produced by Necessary Angel Theatre Company.

Monday, May 22: Sisters by Wendy Lill is presented by Powerhouse Theatre of Vernon. Debra Bob directs a cast of four women and two men. Sisters, set in two time periods – 1950 and 1969, is a tough, uncompromising look at a convent-run Native residential school. Sisters was first presented by Ships Company Theatre in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia in 1989.

Tuesday, May 23: Age of Arousal by Linda Griffiths is presented by Fred Skeleton Theatre Company of Kelowna. Ron Mason-Brown directs. It’s set in 1885, and the typewriter and the suffrage movement are sending things topsy-turvy. In the midst of it all, five ambitious New Women and one Newish Man struggle to find their way. First performed at playRites in 2007, Age of Arousal has been performed at the Shaw Festival and in Scotland. “Griffiths doesn’t so much adapt George Gissing’s novel The Odd Women as explode it, giving it a vigorous modern voice,” said The Guardian of the UK performances.

Wednesday, May 24: RAFT, a rock opera is written by Indie artists Pat Brown and Randall Robinson, who are best known from the popular rock band Ten2Nine, and for their musical theatre performances with Soundstage Productions. The production is presented by Theatre Kelowna Society. Randall Robinson directs a company of two dozen performers, including four musicians. Based on the true story of the early 19th century shipwreck of the frigate Medusa off the coast of Africa, RAFT layers melodic and enchanting music onto the tumultuous grit of this tragic tale. RAFT premiered at the Kelowna Community Theatre in July, 2015.

Thursday, May 25: Since You Left Us by Susinn McFarlen is presented by South Okanagan Amateur Players of Oliver. Nathan Linders directs a cast of six. McFarlen’s play is a bruising black comedy about a dysfunctional family in East Vancouver. Since You Left Us tells the story of an adventurous, daring, bold and side-splittingly politically incorrect family that manages to find a way to make it work. Since You Left Us premiered at Presentation House in North Vancouver in 2014 and was selected one of the Ten Top Best Shows in Vancouver that year.

Friday, May 26: Possible Worlds by John Mighton is presented by Crimson Tine Players of Princeton. Josh Herzog directs a cast of five. Two lovers experience a baffling series of relationships together, each one just slightly and tantalizingly different, as George travels through different worlds seeking Joyce, her true love. Possible Worlds has been described as a sci-fi murder mystery-love story over multiple timelines. Possible Worlds premiered at Canadian Stage in Toronto in 1990. It has been produced in London and made into a film directed by Robert Lepage.

All performances are at 7:30 p.m. The 2017 Okanagan Zone Drama Festival concludes Saturday, May 27 with the Awards Banquet and Dance at the Salmon Arm Seniors Centre on 5th Ave SE at 6 p.m.

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