Is there a quote from the play that speaks to you? Why? I keep returning to the final line in the show: “Oh…well….we all do our part.” It seems simple, but to me, this line is both a strong message of empowerment, but it is also a call out on dangerous behaviour we have as a society. Throughout the arch of this play, we see incredible tensions between friends and strangers as mistrust builds through the social circumstances surrounding the tragedy. So, on one hand, we need to recognize we have a power in the face of tragedy. That power is in coming together, supporting one another, and never losing hope. That is the part we must play when faced with tragedy. However, on the other hand, we also do our part in adding to the tension that comes with tragedy. We tend to look for a source to blame and we tend to foster division rather than acceptance.. So, we as a society can add greatly to the negativity to a situation if we choose to push people away and divide rather than accept.
Why should audiences come see the show? Even though this tragedy took place 100 years ago, the cautionary message in this play is currently relevant to the state of our world. All across the United States, and extending here in Canada, numerous debates have occurred over how to handle issues of terrorism, mistrust, and the political climate. This play does an incredible job of capturing the drama individuals face when a tragedy occurs. Who do we really trust? Who are our real friends? What should we do to keep ourselves safe? Is it reminding ourselves we will be OK? Do we take shelter in our lover? Or do we build a wall and protect us from the dangers? All of these questions are explored in the drama of the play, and I feel this play will provide audiences with an incredible sense of emotion as we explore these questions together. Especially by recognizing the dangers we can place ourselves in by going the mistrust route.
What is your background in theatre? At Walterdale? I have been onstage since the age of 5. Theatre has very much remained in my life since that age. Currently, I work as a theatre educator for the Citadel Theatre, Edmonton Public Schools, Black Gold Schools, Workshop West Playwrights Theatre, Kompany Family Theatre, and in my own company, KidLibs Theatre. I’m also a professional improviser with The 11 O’Clock Number (Grindstone Theatre) and with KidLibs Theatre.. Plays like Shatter also inspire me as a playwright. Currently, I am the Playwright in Residence at Workshop West Playwrights Theatre, and am writing several plays for different theatre companies, including Native Earth Theatre and Kompany Family Theatre.
At the Walterdale, I have performed as an actor in 3 shows. I played Art Milligan in The Male Order Bride, and was part of the general ensemble in Walterdale’s musical productions of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and The Three Penny Opera.
What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show? Honestly, I just want audiences to feel the emotional weight of this tragedy. Through the drama of the main characters, the full sense of uncertainty and anger associated with this tragedy is felt. I want audiences to see themselves in these characters – would I change the way Anna does within this tragedy? Would I feel like Jennie if I experienced what happened to her? Would I be proud in my tactic if I were in Brian’s shoes? Would I be like Elsie and remain hopeful in the presence of extreme tragedy? And then, which of these characters gives us any insight in how to handle these types of tragedies?
Interview by Stephanie O’Neill