Anita Hallewas is excited that her directorial debut in Revelstoke is a Norm Foster play. She considers him Canada’s leading playwright.
“He writes very iconic Canadian plays so it’s quite nice to be directing a Canadian play in this new space,” she said. “It’s nice for me to be directing a Canadian play too, me not being Canadian.”
Mending Fences is about a son who returns home to see his father after having not spoken to each other for 13 years. The play is about the two of them reconciling their situations and trying to figure out how they ended up where they did. It does so with scenes in the present and through a series of flashbacks that force the actors to play their characters at different points in time.
Denny Kaulback plays the father, Harry; John Devitt, is his son Drew; and Lyn Kaulback (Denny’s wife) plays Gin, Harry’s widowed neighbour.
Hallewas considers it an all-star cast – Lyn and Denny have been involved in the Revelstoke Theatre Company for years and Devitt has starred in the last few plays the group has done.
“For the actors it’s a really challenging play to do,” Hallewas said. “To create three distinct characters, we have very little time for costume changes – so they have to get the audience to believe these character changes purely through changing voice and the way they hold themselves.”
The play also gives Hallewas another chance to direct after the production of The Sound of Music was shut down due to a fire at a factory in Mexico where the seat cushions for the new theatre in the high school were being made.
Set in a old farmhouse in Saskatchewan, Mending Fences opens with Harry and Gin talking about Harry’s impending encounter with his son, amongst other things. Harry then goes to pick up Drew at the train station, only to show up an hour late.
“You been waitin’ long?” Harry asks.
“Bout’ an hour,” Drew replied.
“Oh, that’s not too bad. I woulda been here sooner but I fell asleep.”
“Oh. Well, that’s okay. No need to rush out here on my account.”
“It’s about three generations of men and the relationships between those generations,” said Hallewas. “We pick up – whether its subconsciously or consciously – the different traits of our fathers or sons.”
The set, built by Lyn and Denny in the theatre company’s new space inside the Powder Springs Hotel, is reminiscent of a drab 1970s Canadian kitchen, with mustard green walls, matching fridge and stove, and basic wood pantries and drawers.
The theatre company decided to do the play after Lyn and Denny saw Foster star in a performance in it in Port Dalhousie, near Niagara Falls, a few years ago.
“It had that message that is really universal to a lot of people,” said Denny. “It’s about expressing to your family.”
Said Hallewas: “It’s about relationships… [Drew’s] reason for returning is to find out why he’s so emotionally disconnected. He needs to see his father to understand that.”
As the play progresses, different emotions come out. “The flashbacks definitely shed light on the way the characters are the way they are,” she said.
Mending Fences runs from April 26-28 and May 2-4 at McGregor’s in the Powder Spring Hotel. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and the performance starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students.
What is McGregor’s?
Mending Fences will mark the opening of McGregor’s, the new multi-purpose space inside the Powder Springs Hotel.
The new space came about through a series of encounters that led the Revelstoke Theatre Company into discussions with Emma Kirkland, the manager of the Powder Springs.
“About a week later we started demolishing,” said Hallewas.
The space will provide the theatre company with a home for its smaller productions that aren’t suitable for the new, 275-seat theatre at the high school.
“This show is quite intimate setting and it’s better for an audience of less than 100 people, so it works better in a smaller venue,” said Hallewas.
The venue will feature tiered seating for shows, which can be removed afterwards. The connection to the Mackenzie’s Restaurant will mean alcohol can be sold during intermission.
Kirkland said the new space will be used for more than just plays; functions like small showcases and smaller parties can be held there.