When the Laketown Players hit the stage this week at the Saltcoats Community Hall the production will have a very strong connection to the community.
The local theatre group will be performing ‘Black Fly Rapids’ an original play by Stephen Farquharson.
Farquharson is a local playwright, having grown up in Saltcoats, and after teaching in Theodore and Yorkton, had the opportunity to return to the community with his family.
“I served as Principal of Saltcoats School up until my retirement last year,” he told Yorkton This Week.
As for an interest in the stage Farquharson said during his years in Theodore and Yorkton he was involved with high school dramas and teaching Drama at the Yorkton Regional High School so it was natural to maintain the interest.
“First and foremost, I find the whole process of putting on a community theatre production, to be a lot of fun,” he said. “The cast and crew become very close during our months of practising. And, when I write, I hope that people that come to see it will relate to it and will get more out of it than just a few cheap laughs … even though I definitely go for a few cheap laughs, too!”
As a writer Farquharson majored in English at the University of Saskatchewan including a class in creative writing.
“I’ve done a Charlie Farquharson imitation, in which I wrote my own scripts, and have performed for quite a few groups (including three Lt. Governors),” he said. “Those were always well received, so I guess they gave me the confidence to try to write a full length play.
“That, coupled with the need for scripts to suit our group and audience, prompted me to start writing plays. ‘Black Fly Rapids’ is the fifth play I’ve written that the Laketown Players have performed.”
The latest play “takes place up North on a river, during a family reunion,” said Farguharson. “One of my daughters and I, often go up to the Churchill River with the Jamieson family, where we do a fair bit of white water canoeing and just generally have a great time. So, some of the scenes certainly draw on those experiences. And, the family reunion, where everybody cares for each other, but has trouble getting along, well who hasn’t been there?”
The idea for the play has been one percolating in Farguharson’s mind for some time.
“I’ve had the idea for this play for about a year, so even though I never typed a word until about two-weeks before rehearsals, I had a pretty good idea of where I was going to go with this one,” he said, adding, “I’m a terrible procrastinator, and I’m also busy with many different projects, so the fact that I wrote it in such a short time, is more a comment on how much I was pressured by time than a case of it “flowing easily”!”
Asked what the most challenging aspect of the project was, Farquharson said it was less challenging because of the co-operative approach taken with the theatre troupe.
“The beauty of the Laketown Players is how everybody just pitches in and are so positive,” he said. “Some of the scenes require creative staging. I don’t worry about that when I write. I usually have a strong idea of how I want it staged, and I know that people like Joan Wilson or Hanna Farquharson will come up with wonderful ways to artistically bring my vision to life.
“The cast members do a great job of getting in to their roles, and knowing that makes it easier to write because I have confidence that they’ll add themselves to the role they have, and bring it to life.”
The play’s strength may lie in its ability to connect to something in the viewer’s own lives.
“I think a lot of people will see glimpses of their own families and I think the story makes important points about how we treat our families,” offered Farquharson. “And, I hope people will find it entertaining!”
As the playwright Farquharson said he is generally happy with the play, although he admits rarely is he ever completely satisfied with his writing efforts.
“I’m not sure I’m ever completely satisfied with my own plays,” he said. “There are parts of it that I kind of wish I’d done a better job of. On the other hand, there are a few lines that still make me giggle even after hearing them a hundred times.
“Overall, I guess I’ll let the audience decide if it’s any good …
“I guess it will be similar to when we’ve done other plays I’ve written. I’ll be a bit of a nervous wreck and full of self-doubt until (hopefully) the audience starts to enjoy it and has their first big laugh.”
There will be dinner theatre showings of the play Feb. 14, 15 and 16 evenings with a Dessert Theater showing Sunday afternoon Feb. 17.