BRANDON, MB — Two Brandon University (BU) faculty members, through their company Root Sky Productions, will present two original plays next month. Assistant Professor of Native Studies Darrell Racine and English and Creative Writing Assistant Professor Dale Lakevold will spearhead a production of the plays at the 2012 MayWorks Festival of Labour and the Arts in Winnipeg from May 30 to June 2. The following week, they will bring the works to Brandon audiences.
Both plays — All or Nothing by former BU counsellor Bruce Sarbit and Aleta Dey: A Rehearsal by Lakevold himself — are set in the early decades of the 1900s and based on the lives of individuals who struggled for peace, equality, and justice.
All or Nothing dramatizes the last days of Spanish writer and philosopher Miguel de Unamuno, who was arrested by the fascist Franco regime in 1936.
”All the elements of great drama surfaced in Unamuno’s life — crisis and passion, and the search for meaning in the face of life and death. The dramatic examination of Unamuno’s life leads us to examine our own lives,” said Sarbit.
All or Nothing, which features acclaimed Winnipeg actor Harry Nelken, was a Winnipeg Fringe Festival hit in 2011. It was nominated for the Harry S. Rintoul Award for Best Manitoba Play at the Fringe and received five-star reviews in the Winnipeg Free Press and Uptown.
“Harry Nelken is God,” said the Uptown reviewer. “His ability to crawl inside the character is uncanny.”
Aleta Dey: A Rehearsal presents the poignant story of a fiercely independent young woman who was raised on a farm south of Brandon. In 1910, she moved to Winnipeg to take part in the struggle for women’s rights and for an end to war. The play is based on the 1919 novel Aleta Dey by Francis Marion Beynon, a member of the Political Equality League that led the suffrage movement in Manitoba and succeeded in gaining the vote for women.
Lakevold’s play opens in the Hartney area, where Beynon grew up. It offers a portrait of the joy and hardship of life on a prairie farm in the early 1900s. The second act shifts to Winnipeg, where Aleta becomes a journalist and falls in love just as Canada enters the war. One of Winnipeg’s finest young actors, Tracy Penner, who recently appeared in Theatre Project Manitoba’s hit play about Mennonite life, The Moonlight Sonata of Beethoven Blatz by Armin Wiebe, will perform the role of Aleta. The director will be Daria Puttaert, who appeared this March in Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre’s production of The Fighting Days by Wendy Lill.
“The story goes to the heart of life in this part of the country and reminds us of who we are. It shows us that the people of Manitoba may be modest yet stubborn and determined,” said Lakevold. “This is the place where the fight for equality and human rights took root and where it continues to this day.”
The Winnipeg shows will take place in the Rudolf Rocker Cultural Centre. In Brandon, All or Nothing will be held on June 6 and 7, while Aleta Dey will be presented on June 8 and 9, in the Evans Theatre. Tickets are $12 for one show or $20 for both. To reserve tickets for pick-up at the door, please call 204-727-7413 or send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Advance tickets are also available at Campus Books, in the Knowles-Douglas building at Brandon University.