On the weekend of March 24, Tunnel Theatre and The Arts Station will proudly present, The Curse of the Lumberjack King, a slapstick comedy written by Lindsay Vallance, directed by Denise Baughn and starring seven talented Fernie locals; Sadie Rosgen, Lindsay MacKay, Lynda Bird, Jordan Johnson, Michael Bull and Paul Wortley.
Vallance has been involved as a writer for quite some time, and through this, met Denise Baughn. With tenant grants available from Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance (CKCA) and Columbia Basin Trust (CBT), Vallance applied and was successful, allowing the group to kick start their project.
Vallance already had the play in her repertoire, and selected it when collaborating with Baughn, reasoning that The Arts Station venue was a perfect stage for it, as the play takes place mostly in one room throughout the piece.
“I read it, I thought it was funny, and we went from there,” said Baughn, who believes the play is one which will entertain, rather than test your convictions.
“You’re not going to walk away with a big, life changing message,” she said. “It’s something that’s really light-hearted and funny. It really speaks to this area because it’s set in British Columbia, and it deals with this idea of tall-tales and legends.”
Baughn explains that the play contains themes of self-identity, for the character Jeffrey, who returns to his small hometown in B.C., after a long time away in Saskatchewan.
“For the character Jeffrey, (he is) on this search to find out who he is, where he’s from and what’s happened to his family,” said Baughn. “It turns into this whirlwind adventure when he realizes his family has been cursed. And it becomes a story about how to solve this curse.”
Auditions took place last summer, but rehearsals did not start until September. In this time, the actor previously cast into the role of Jeffrey, had to withdraw. However, after Jordan Johnson approached Baughn, she realized he was perfect for the role.
Baughn has worked in professional theatre for many years, and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting. She has worked across Canada, performing or teaching. The 32-year-old now works full time as a theatre director.
Baughn’s favorite part about directing a play, is seeing the growth of the performer.
“Starting with a role, and getting a group of strangers together, and saying, how are we going to put on this story? What do we want to say as a cast? And then working together as a team to morph the characters so that they become something very specific and unique to each performer, and then taking everyone’s ideas and moving forth as a collaboration, to the final piece,” she said.
In her experience as a director, Baughn finds the creative process to be different for each person. She sees each performer settle into their characters at different times. Once in the mindset, actors can fully embrace the character’s personality, based on the text. She believes her cast is at this point.
Despite having rehearsed for six months, The Curse of the Lumberjack King will only be run for one weekend. The show begins at 7:00 p.m., and will play March 24, 25, and 26. The length of the play is approximately one hour and fifteen minutes and is rated 8+.
Tickets are $10 and are available to purchase at The Arts Station or online at Eventbrite.ca