The truthfulness of personal memory when distilling the events of long ago is explored in a new work by Red Deer playwright Blaine Newton.
Newton has woven the ephemeral theme of human relationships and the passage of time into a one-act play called Curtain Call. It will be given a staged reading on Friday at Red Deer College’s Studio C, along with two other unpublished works — Stephen Neufeld’s Tumaini, about Western guilt, and Rachel Peacock’s unusual Fishbowl Existence.
The three local plays were chosen for a Scripts at Work development program, in which playwrights get to fine-tune their works-in-progress with help from dramatists Conni Massing and Gordon Pengilly.
Once the plays are revised, professional theatre directors Trevor Schmidt and Dave Owen will oversee staged readings done by current and former Red Deer College theatre students.
Newton expects Curtain Call to pretty much be brought to life — except for a lack of set and no stage movements. The actors will stand and read from scripts perched on music stands.
“This is very exciting for me,” said the playwright, who feels the entire process has been very useful.
When Newton — a Red Deer engineer who acts as well as writes for the theatre — recently met with Pengilly, the dramatist asked him some crucial questions about his play’s central characters. As a result, Newton said he rewrote the last quarter of the script to make it more believable.
Since Curtain Call was conceived in a 24-hour playwriting workshop in Calgary, Newton admitted he had used some “easy plot devices,” which he replaced with actions that made more sense for the characters he created. “It always had a sad ending, but now it’s a more character-driven play.”
Even the RDC actors doing the staged readings had a role in the play’s development. Newton said certain dialogue rang false when read aloud, so he changed it.
Curtain Call begins when a man goes backstage at a small theatre to greet an old friend, a female actor.
Newton said the two hold very different memories about a certain event in their lives and this has coloured their individual perceptions of their relationship.
“It’s a play about loneliness and people who make the wrong decisions in life.”
Tumaini, by Red Deer College alumni Neufeld, is about a high school teacher who is crushed by Western consumerism and haunted by the image of a small African girl.
Rachel Peacock, a Rosebud School of the Arts grad from Rimbey, wrote Fishbowl Existence from the perspective of a couple of fish observing humans.
The Scripts at Work staged reading will be held on Friday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 at the door.