Theatre of Dangerous Ideas draws praise

Harold Edwards looks around inquisitively during the Canadian Pucklings sketch featured in Wishbone Theatre’s most recent production: Theatre of Dangerous Ideas. / EVAN MATTHEWS

by EVAN MATTHEWS & LAURA KEIL

Wishbone Theatre Productions’ most recent production Theatre of Dangerous Ideas drew standing ovations for its “spot on” portrayal of some of the valley’s most notable issues, which was the goal according to co-playwright Sharon Stearns.

“The initial idea was to create a series of hot, topical cultural and political sketches, and send them up through satire and comedy,” says Stearns.

“Some of our ideas were from existing comedy forums — SNL, Monty Python, (This Hour has) 22 Minutes — and we restructured and rewrote them to have local resonance,” she says.

Skits included the “demise of the middle class white man,” and a portrayal of Valemount Destinations’ Resort Designer Oberto Oberti, though in Wishbone’s rendition he was named Gelato Gelati.

In dramatic fashion, the show managed to discuss real world and local issues — such as the softwood lumber conflict — without so much as a mention of American politics or what Stearns calls “the dreaded Trump word.”

The production also saw a relatively new playwright in the valley, Miwa Hiroe, co-write the script. Hiroe says her playwright experience goes back to the Valemountia production, and a McBride high school drama production last year.

“This (idea) morphed into the Canadian Pucklings sketch,” says Stearns, which is a sketch the audience observes Canadians “hatch in the wild.”

“I think humour can be the best way to bring light to contentious, troubling and dangerous ideas — like North Korea, or Syrian refugees, or misogyny — humour is non-confrontational, yet it allows troubling issues to sink into our brains, somehow still,” she says.

The production also saw a relatively new playwright in the valley, Miwa Hiroe, co-write the script. Hiroe says her playwright experience goes back to the Valemountia production, and a McBride high school drama production last year.

Sharon Stearns and Dustin Winzer get up
close and personal, just prior to Winzer picking up a banjo for
the crowd. / EVAN MATTHEWS

“The Theater of Dangerous Ideas was supposed to be a quick thing since (Stearns) didn’t have time to write a spring cabaret, so we liberated a lot of existing skits, but it grew substantially and we did write fresh stuff as well,” says Hiroe, making mention of an online script the entire cast could access. Sometimes, the script would be changing literally as cast members were memorizing their lines.

“We started rehearsing a solid two weeks in advance with a few brainstorming sessions beforehand, but the writing and editing only ended a few days before the show… Props to the cast,” she says.

Stearns, a long-term playwright who runs Wishbone Theatre company, has become somewhat of a mentor to Hiroe, she says. Stearns provides creative processes with a direction, but she does it without interrupting personal flow and her comments never lack encouragement, according to Hiroe.

The respect is mutual.

“(Hiroe) has great potential if she continues to explore theatre, playwriting and acting as a profession,” says Stearns.

“I love working with her,” she says.

The number of writers is on the rise within the Wishbone Theatre collective due to the positive chemistry.

“I definitely hope to be doing more writing in the future,” Hiroe says.

Kerry McNaughton plays a baby, holding her teddy
tight. / EVAN MATTHEWS

 

Monica Zeiper (left) can’t feel her face,
while Harold Edwards (center) and Bob Thompson (right) look
on in bewilderment during a sketch poking fun at marijuana
users. / EVAN MATTHEWS

 

Co-Playwright Miwa Hiroe was full of enthusiasm,
playing a variety of different characters over the night. / EVAN MATTHEWS

Did you know the Goat could not operate without people buying the newspaper? Subscribe today!