(From left) Brian Lawrence, Simone Wiebe and Devan Coward in a rehearsal for the Footlighters Theatre Society production of Modern Dysfunction, which runs April 19 and 20. (Dan Caverly photo)

Footlighters to present three person show

With an eye toward Theatre BC’s Mainstage Festival, Creston Footlighters will be staging Modern Dysfunction, a three-actor play written locally by Jason Smith and Suzanne Chubb.

Devan Coward, Brian Lawrence and Simone Wiebe will be featured in the play, which will run on April 19 and 20 at Prince Charles Theatre, with another performance to follow when Creston hosts the Theatre BC Kootenay Zone Festival in May.

“We are three people who are all messing each others’ lives up,” Wiebe described the play last Thursday.

Lawrence added that the play centers around a dinner in which his character, James, is invited to dinner by Darren (Coward) and Sara (Wiebe).

“James wants to break up their marriage,” he chuckled. “They all have had dysfunctional, co-dependent relationships with each other, and the issues all come to a head on this evening.”

Wiebe said there is no shortage of serious subjects—“infertility issues, mental health, family history of emotional abuse…”

The acting trio long ago became friends offstage, and are excited to work together again.

“The three of us had big parts in Oklahoma together, and we wanted to something with just the three of us.

“Jason and Suzanne said, ‘We’ll write it for you!’”

Wiebe described her character as “the most normal—probably”, while Coward smiled and said, “I’m the most manipulative!”

“We wanted our characters to be identifiable to the audience,’ Wiebe said. “We are all directors, too, and we all offered suggestions.”

The three actors discussed the play in Wiebe’s living room, and the interview was occasionally interrupted when her three-year-old wanted to share the enthusiasm for unicorns.

“We are literally rehearsing in this living room, with kids running in and out all the time,” Wiebe laughed. “One of my kids was terrified when Devon pushed Brian down to the floor. We had to explain it wasn’t for real!”

Playing to a Creston audience is a familiar experience, but when the performance is presented in May, with a theatre adjudicator in the audience to consider which entrants will go on to the 2019 Mainstage competition in Port Alberni in July, the dynamics could change.

“It’s always in the back of my mind,” Lawrence said.

“I haven’t even thought about it,” Coward, perhaps in character, retorted.

A serious Footlighters play is not the norm, with musicals, comedies and melodramas being the more common fare. But the opportunity to change things up is something the actors/directors welcome.

“It’s fun to play serious characters!” Wiebe said.

Did the authors tailor the characters to actors who would be playing them?

“The writers know us well!” Lawrence said. “Some of us might have been typecast for some or our parts,” Coward added.

Modern Dysfunction runs next Friday and Saturday, April 19-20. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors/students, and are available at The Fly in the Fibre, Black Bear Books and Kingfisher Used Books & Fine Coffee. Ticketholders get a free dessert with the purchase of a meal at Real Food Café on show nights.

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