CANMORE – The show will go on.
The latest Pine Tree Players production will hit the stage with the local group showcasing Stage Kiss by Sarah Ruhl.
The show, which began Nov. 15 and runs daily until Nov. 25 at the Canmore Miners’ Union Hall, features two actors with a romantic history who find themselves working together as romantic leads in a forgotten 1930s play.
As the lines between onstage and offstage begin to blur, the actors lose touch with reality. As they kiss each other multiple times each night they try to figure out whether they are actors that share a real kiss, or lovers that share a stage kiss.
“It is hard to keep track of what’s happening for us on stage,” said Jeremy White, one of the lead actors. “Everybody has a character, and the character is portraying another character within a play, sometimes it is actually hard to keep everything straight.”
Ruhl’s comedy is about the emotional pitfalls of acting life. Specifically, does art imitate life or does life imitate art?
Amanda Goldberg takes the lead behind the scenes as the show’s director. A long-time director who first started in the role in 2014, she said she’s been waiting for over two years to direct this play.
“This play is something I always wanted to do. It's quite risky in terms of the amount of intimacy that we have to deal with. It’s a really beautiful play,” said Goldberg.
The play has an appeal to anyone who has seen a kiss on stage or screen and wondered, but is it real?
“It’s interesting because it’s things that everyone has always wondered about theatre. How could they do that? It’s great to have that conversation with people in the theatre world and outside of it,” said Goldberg.
Because the play is very physical in nature, Pine Tree Players required an intimacy director to make sure everything stayed within the actor’s comfort zone.
“We have to go over consent and boundaries. So, myself as a choreographer, I know what’s available for touch and what isn’t,” said Anastasia St. Amand, the show’s intimacy director. “I also have private conversations to make sure that I know what their limitations are, physical and mental.”
Stage Kiss requires a lot more physicality from its performers beyond kissing. The team trains to ensure they are prepared to perform some of the more physical aspects of the play safely and to avoid any potential risk of injury.
“They need to be able to do a 10-day run and not injure themselves. We need to make everything is done properly so that it remains sustainable,” said St. Amand.
Pine Tree Players put on four productions – outdoor and indoor – each year. The vintage Union Hall building has been a hub for the Canmore community for more than a hundred years. The theatre groups performed their first theatre production here in 1978.
The volunteer-based theatre group began auditions for the play in July and rehearsals started in September.
In addition to the show running daily until Nov. 25, the Nov. 24 production will have an option of live audio description.
To ensure all audience members can enjoy the performance, Sunday (Nov. 19) will be a relaxed performance suitable for anyone who has a difficult time enjoying a more formal theatre experience.
“We provide headphones for people with sensory issues. The lights remain at half brightness so people can get up and move around,” said producer Jen Tweddell.