With Say It Ain’t So Theatre, every production is a family affair — mom acts, dad produces, and their three kids handle the lighting and sets.
Carla and George Falk, of Blackfalds, and their multi-talented teens — sons Jonah, 19, and Alex, 16, and daughter Jaime, 13 — have been touring the same stage comedy around Central Alberta for going on three years.
A Bench in the Sun, by U.S. playwright Ron Clark, has been performed by Say It Ain’t So for various fundraisers, Christmas parties and events from Calgary to Edmonton — but mostly in small communities between Knee Hill and Rimbey.
Carla said her home-grown theatre troupe never knows what to expect when the van pulls up at a venue.
Sometimes there’s a stage to perform on and sometimes the troupe has to set up right on the floor of a community hall or seniors’ centre.
With only two set pieces, “we don’t have a lot of requirements. Our dressing room can be a closet,” admitted Carla, with a chuckle.
She chalks up her group’s success to two simple facts — “people like theatre, and we will travel.”
Word of mouth keeps spreading about the tiny company, “and just when we think the play has run its course we’ll get another booking,” added Carla. She added, “There’s a real demand in rural communities for good entertainment.”
Say It Ain’t So Theatre is now being asked to return to the same centres again — which means that Carla is scouring scripts to come up with a fresh play for April.
The trouble is finding a production as good as A Bench in the Sun, which she believes has resonated with people young and old.
The 90-minute comedy (which also stars actors Tim Newcomb and Fred Andersen) is about two elderly males in a seniors’ home whose decades-long friendship is tested by the arrival of a vampy female — an aging actress, played by Falk.
Carla believes the play is funny because it speaks truly about the human condition.
The 40-something occupational therapist has performed with Red Deer’s now-defunct professional Ignition Theatre.
Along with Newcomb and Andersen, she started out acting with Central Alberta Theatre.
Carla loves imagining herself as another character and making an audience laugh and feel poignant moments. “It’s a great artistic outlet.”
When her cousin was looking for a fundraising idea for his non-profit a few years ago, she came up with the idea of putting on a play, which eventually spun into Say It Ain’t So Theatre, with the help of Andersen’s rural connections.
The troupe rehearses extensively to prepare for each performance, which happens about every four to six weeks, and has to make money to pay for the script’s royalty costs and for everybody’s participation.
Even the roadies get a cut, said Carla. “We pay our kids something,” for loading and unloading the van and helping during shows.
“It’s a fun thing to do,” she added. “And they are learning that you can give back to the community by doing something you love.”
Carla believes it’s been a great bonding experience.
The next performance of A Bench in the Sun takes place on Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Lincoln Hall, near Ponoka.
For more information, please call 403-885-5139.