Theatre UNB’s first production of 2018, Bone Cage by Nova Scotia playwright Catherine Banks, is set to take the stage Jan. 31 – Feb. 1 as part of Fredericton’s winter festival, FROSTival.
Theatre UNB is preparing to stage its first play of 2018, with a production of Catherine Banks’ award-winning play, Bone Cage. This “stark, poetic and emotionally searing” work won the 2008 Governor-General’s Award for Drama.
Bone cage is the story of a group of young adults growing up in a small town in the rural Maritimes, each employed by industries that damage the environment in some way.
Jamie and Kevin work in forestry, clear-cutting ever-dwindling tracts of forest, while Jamie’s half-sister, Chicky, strips the topsoil on a sod farm. Employed in industries that devastate the environment, their emotional lives and connections with others are similarly stunted, even as they struggle on, driven by the hope of one day finding love and escape. While devastating in its portrayal of many of the ugly realities of small town life, including poverty, alcoholism, homophobia, and rural depopulation, the play also speaks powerfully of the beauty of the Maritime landscape, our connection to home, and the healing power of love.
Director Len Falkenstein has been in love with the play for nearly a decade.
“I’ve been in love with this play from when I first read it after it won the Governor General’s Award in 2008,” said Falkenstein. “It’s a regional story set in Nova Scotia that is about the hardscrabble reality of life in the rural Maritimes that is utterly compelling in both its beauty and its gothic bleakness. It’s also a perfect play to direct with a university acting class because the characters are all so rich and layered and six of the seven characters are all in their teens to twenties, so very age appropriate.”
Falkenstein has a long history of politically charged work, both on stage at Theatre UNB and through his own work as a playwright. His 2014 play Lac Athabasca, which debuted at the Vancouver Fringe Festival went on to receive performances across the country and will be published by Playwrights press Canada in March 2018.
“I was certainly drawn to the work because of what it has to say about how the exploitation and destruction of our natural resources rebounds on those involved in it, how it is destructive to the human beings involved,” he said. “The best example in this play is the main character, Jamie, who after a shift clear-cutting forests goes back over the area he has just destroyed and tries to rescue the birds he has injured and whose homes he has destroyed. It kills him inside with every shift.
“It’s important as a work that speaks to the particular place we live in at this particular moment,” said Falkenstein, “as we are dealing with rural depopulation and the growing awareness of the damage we are doing to the planet. But it also speaks to universal truths about love, the pull of home, and the need for connection and affection in our lives.”
Bone Cage will be performed by the students of UNB’s advanced acting course, with set design by Mike Johnston and original music by Devin Rockwell.
Cast and Creative Team:
Cast: Alex Pannier, Kate Aldacosta, Sophie Trembly-Pitre, Devin Rockwell, John Ball, Robert Joy, and Mallory Kelly.
Director: Len Falkenstein
Design/Technical Director: Mike Johnston
Stage Manager Ian Clark
Music: Devin Rockwell
Bone Cage will be performed at 7:30 nightly Wednesday, Jan. 31st through Saturday Feb. 3rd at Memorial Hall on the UNB campus. Tickets ($14 regular, $10 seniors/underemployed, $8 for students) will be available at the door. For more information, phone 506 447-3078 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.