Stanley-Boushie Play Offered With “Respect, Humility”

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Artistic director Del Surjik announced Persephone Theatre’s 2019-2020 season last week. (Photo by Cam Hutchinson)

Persephone Theatre’s 2019-2020 season will have a comedic bent, but the play that was most discussed at last week’s reveal was a weighty one that delves into the court decision in the Gerald Stanley-Colten Boushie case.

Stanley was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2016 shooting death of Boushie. 

“We take up one of the many responsibilities of a regional theatre by commissioning new plays and reflecting on the most important issues being discussed in Saskatchewan,” Persephone artistic director Del Surjik said. 

Surjik said a similar play was in the works, but Boushie’s death and the court decision changed the focus of the script. 

“Quite a while ago now, local playwright Joel Bernbaum and I discussed a play commission to serve our city by addressing the most pressing issue we could identify at the time — urban race relations.

“This play commission was to take a verbatim or documentary style which meant it would be constructed out of actual words of our citizenry. Joel was well under way with transcripts from many, many Saskatonians — all types — when something changed. And with that, the interviews changed radically as well.

“We refocused our work on the implications of the Stanley trial and the aftermath of Colten Boushie’s tragic death.”

The new work is named Reasonable Doubt, a documentary play with live music. Bernbaum, Lancelot Knight and Yvette Nolan are the creators of the piece. It will run from Jan. 29 to Feb. 12, 2020.

“It is admittedly a sad story in so many ways,” Surjik said. “We offer this to you with respect and humility. Things aren’t likely to get better if we don’t talk about them.”

Surjik said the audience will be invited to participate in post-show discussions.

“The script continues its development towards its production, and you can still add your voice for consideration by contacting us at talkatpersephonetheatre.org,” he said.

Four of the other five plays in the subscription series will be comedies.

“Certainly if we are going to undertake weighty work of this nature we need to frame the rest of the season to balance and support its inclusion,” Surjik said. 

One of those will be the pre-holiday season presentation of Elf, a likely candidate for an extended run. 

Surjik said there is no theme to the season.

“As we build our season we don’t consciously pick a theme and run after it. I find that leads to some side effects; you are cramming together choices rather than focusing on what’s really important: contemplating the quality of the script, the relevance it has; does it have real meaning for our audience?”

He said after the selection of plays, the season reveals itself.

“In this case, I have come to characterize that as ‘stories from less heard voices.’”

In addition to Reasonable Doubt, the following plays will be on the main stage. Persephone Theatre provided the capsules for each.

Glory

By Tracey Power

Sept. 25 to Oct. 9

A Hockey Play that Swings

Inspired by the true story of Canada’s own Preston Rivulettes

In 1933, four friends set out to prove to Canada that hockey isn’t just a sport for men. But with the Great Depression weighing heavily on the nation and political tensions rising in Europe, can they overcome the odds, and people’s expectations, to forge their own path to glory? A great hockey story featuring thrilling rink competition accompanied by music from the jazz age, Glory proves a woman’s place is on home ice.

W.R.O.L.

(Without Rule of Law)

By Michaela Jeffrey

Oct. 30 to Nov. 13

Convinced the world at large can’t be trusted to adequately protect the well-being of adolescent girls in the event of an apocalypse (or just in general), a determined troupe of Eighth Grade ‘doomers’ are committed to preparing for survival in the post-collapse society they anticipate inheriting. A darkly comic coming-of-age story for our complicated times. 

ELF – The Musical

Book by Thomas Meehan and 

Bob Martin

Music by Mathew Sklar

Lyrics by Chad Beguelin

Based upon the New Line Cinema 

film written by David Berenbaum

Dec. 4 to 18

The musical is the hilarious tale of Buddy the Elf, who as a child mistakenly crawled into Santa’s bag of gifts and was transported to the North Pole. Buddy is unaware that he is actually human, but eventually his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father, discover his true identity, and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas. 

Stones in His Pockets

By Marie Jones

March 25 to April 8, 2020

Charlie and Jake are hired as extras when a Hollywood film crew arrives in their quiet Irish village to shoot the epic movie A Quiet Life. But when harsh reality is pitted against the Hollywood Dream, chaos ensues. This award-winning comedy is a rollicking and poignant tour de force with two actors playing a cast of dozens.

The Shoplifters

By Morris Panych

April 29 to May 13, 2020

Alma is a career shoplifter with a knack for getting the “five-finger discount.” When she’s caught in the act by an overzealous security guard, there’s more revealed than the rib eye steak she has stuffed up her skirt. With a cast of oddball characters, this new comedy is a bitingly hilarious look at the gap between society’s have and have-nots.

In addition to the six-play subscription series, there will be three productions in the Deep End series and five shows for young audiences. For more information, visit persephonetheatre.org.