There’s a simple theory producer/actor Jaron Francis lives by, local work creates better, more interesting people and enriches the community. It’s this idea that Francis has based his new theatre company Chasing Our Tales around.
The group produces world premieres of productions by Saskatchewan playwrights and give them the full, staged and professional treatment often saved for more established writers.
“Plays are meant to be performed,” says Francis. “Most of the performance opportunities we have for new plays here in Saskatchewan are workshops or staged readings. While they help, playwrights are creating works for actors and an audience. It’s much more than just being read from a music stand.”
“Plays are meant to be performed.”
The company’s first production, Wendy Lockman’s Where It Hurts is the latest offering on the BackStage Stage at the Remai Arts Centre. The story follows Alex a young woman just days away from her wedding. She suddenly finds herself falling for Ben, a bartender at her stagette. Now Alex must decide whether to follow her heart and risk hurting people around her.
“When I read the script, I was immediately taken with how messy and morally compromised the characters are.” Francis explains, “This show operates in the grey areas. This is not a simple and straightforward world.”
Francis has worked closely with Lockman and the Saskatchewan Playwrights Centre to get this show to the stage. The team put the script through two workshops including input from dramaturge Gordon Portman (director) and the cast.
“The more you labour through a play, putting that background work into it, the more it pays off,” says Francis. “It yields huge dividends when you bring the audience in.”
Where It Hurts has a relatively short run, but Francis hopes it’s only the start of a legacy for his Chasing Our Tales.
“I want Saskatchewan audiences to see where they live reflected on the stage.” He explains, “”I’m getting to the age that if I’m going to have children, I want them to see some of their essence present in art. It’s important to keep producing local work.”