The World Premiere of rice & beans theatre’s Peace Country is now playing at Firehall Arts Centre until October 22nd. Kicking off Firehall’s 41st season, this excellent new play by Pedro Chamale brings home the realities of what life is like growing up in our Northern communities and how it might look in the near future, if we don’t start to make difficult decisions.
Inspired by playwright/director’s Pedro Chamale’s upbringing in Chetwynd, B.C., and recent summer fire seasons, Peace Country tells its story through the eyes of a group of 5 friends, in a small rural town in British Columbia’s Northern Interior. In the near future a new political party has swept into office with the promise of big changes, but with all changes status quo must adapt or lose. In a small town like this, with an carbon/resource based economy, the race is on to be able to preserve their town before it’s decimated by economics or climate change. Jonathan Kim’s lighting design, Cindy Kao’s sound design, and Andie Lloyd’s video design and projections add to the anxious desperate times.
Vividly told with seamless onstage transitions between the quintet’s memories and current actions, each member of the group reminisces, allowing the audience to contrast their youth with the people they’ve grown to become.
Like the way we don’t see ourselves aging in our memories, Sofía Rodríguez, Manuela Sosa, Sara Vickruck, Angus Yam, and Kaitlyn Yott brilliantly and believably play both their younger and older character-selves. Aided by Costume Designer Michelle Thorne-Speir’s creative costumes that transition decades with a few perfectly placed retro touches.
Anyone who grew up in a small town, will recognize and relate to these characters, and their intercultural friendships. Chamale has painted a perfect picture of these bonds that form in elementary school, from the innocent days of riding bikes until the lights come on, slushies and brain-freeze, to bonfire parties in the bush, and hiding a bootlegged mickey from the cops. Community ties can break or strengthen when it comes time for university and the big city. When one off their gang returns after years away, can they relate to their friends and family, the town and its economic and environmental climate.
Told with compassion and balance, and a dash of humour, Peace Country perfectly presents an opening for discussions about climate change and the resource-based and green economies. Peace Country also opens the Firehall Arts season which will delve into these topics and discussions throughout the year.
A must see, Peace Country by Pedro Chamale, runs at the Firehall Arts Centre, 280 E Cordova Street, only until October 22, find details and tickets online at firehallartscentre.ca