Sex, Spies and Blackmail


Category: stage 243

Theatre UNB’s final production of the season, ‘A Patriot For Me’ by John Osborne, is a highly political, highly collaborative effort involving more than 35 students.

When the curtain goes up on Theatre UNB’s final show of the season, the sense of relief and accomplishment will be palpable. For the past few weeks, 40 students from the UNB Drama Program and the Technical Production and Design for the Theatre class have been hard at work shaping both the story and the set in preparation for their final production of the season, A Patriot For Me, by English playwright John Osborne.

“This play is being done by our new second year class, Mainstage Production, with the 20 students in that class on stage and contributing the wardrobe, props, and publicity for the show,” said UNB’s Director of Drama Len Falkenstein. “Meanwhile our other new class, Technical Production and Design for the Theatre, also with 20 people, has built the set for the show and will be the tech crew for the production. A great new collaboration between our courses.”

The play, a historical drama based on the fascinating story of Austro-Hungarian army intelligence officer Alfred Redl, recounts the true story of his encounter with Russian spies who forced him to become a double agent in exchange for keeping his sexual orientation under wraps.

“There are many things that make the story of the play continue to resonate,” said Falkenstein, who has a long history producing highly political works of theatre. “Recently, the Canadian government issued an apology to members of the Canadian forces and civil servants in the diplomatic core who had lost their jobs or had their careers ruined in other ways because they were gay, the thinking being that such persons were vulnerable to being blackmailed because of their sexuality. And this repressive and antiquated thinking continued until surprisingly not that long ago.”

At a time when accusations surrounding Russian interference in foreign governments are again making headlines around the world while issues surrounding sexual orientation continue to divide opinions and unite allies, A Patriot For Me seems a perfect fit for today’s stage. But outside of the obvious parallels that continue to exist and remain relevant struggles in modern times, Falkenstein also points to the importance of the play’s broader theme.

“In a larger way, the struggle of people to live a life free of discrimination remains an ongoing battle, both at home and in other parts of the world,” he said.

Theatre UNB Presents A Patriot For Me by John Osborne, directed by Len Falkenstein, with design and technical direction by Mike Johnston and fight direction by Jean-Michel Cliche. The play will be performed at 7:30 p.m. nightly from Wednesday, April 4 through Saturday April 7 at Memorial Hall on the UNB campus. Tickets ($14 regular, $10 seniors/underemployed, $8 for students) will be available at the door.

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