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Courtesy Alberta Theatre Projects

Gracie brings polygamy and doubt to Calgary stage

By Gurman Sahota, February 28 2017 —

Beginning with an eight-year-old living in the interior of British Columbia as a part of a polygamous sect, Gracie is the struggle between the desire to belong to a community and growing doubt.

The piece is a collaboration between the Belfry Theatre in Victoria and Calgary’s Alberta Theatre Projects.

Lili Beaudoin — who plays the title character, alongside 14 other roles in the play — describes the depiction Gracie’s home life as normal without tokenizing polygamy. She says the girl begins to question the idea of marrying a man she does not know.

“The life she grows up in is normalized to her,” Beaudoin says. “When the idea of marriage gets put on her, it’s a completely different thing — she has to deal with her own opinions and her own feelings on whether or not she’s ready.”

Beaudoin says playing 15 roles is a challenge.

“One of the biggest challenges for me is learning how to keep every character’s argument alive,” Beaudoin says.

Director Vanessa Porteous played a pivotal role in casting Beaudoin from a national search for Gracie. Porteous says she knew Beaudoin was an actor that could bring a youthful quality to
the role but also has the charisma to hold the stage on her own.

The Belfry Theatre commissioned Canadian playwright Joan MacLeod to write the piece. Porteous cites MacLeod’s way of creating theatre as one of the driving forces to producing this and other previous works by the playwright.

“Joan’s writing is very topical. It’s always something that is really pertinent to our normal lives in Canada and also universally,” Porteous says.

Gracie has received positive reviews for its performances in Victoria and Porteous hopes that will continue in Calgary. She feels the play will resonate with Calgary audiences by revealing how we impose values on each other and how we demand people to conform to these values.

“Everybody can remember what it’s like to grow up — some of the wonderful parts of being a kid and some of the more difficult parts when the adult world starts to impose itself on your life,” Porteous says. “Even if we’re not growing up in a polygamous, religious community, we have that in common with Gracie.”

Gracie will show from Feb. 28 – March 18 at 7:30 p.m.  at the Martha Cohen Theatre at Arts Commons. Ticket prices vary and are available online.

For more information, visit ATPlive.ca

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