Theatre company presents hard-hitting, ‘relevant’ one-act play

Miranda Ironstand-Baxter and Sean Overby rehearse a scene from the Stonewater Rapture. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

A local theatre company is bringing a story about two teenagers and their search for their identity to Prince Albert this week.

The Stonewater Rapture follows the story of two teenagers struggling with their sexual identities in a small, Christian town.

Set simply on the front porch and living room of a conservative Texas home, it follows Carlyle and Whitney as they navigate the world they find themselves in.

While it was written back in 1984, director Dannyll Challis says it’s just as relevant today.

“The Stonewater Rapture is a show I saw in 1987 or 88 for the first time and I just loved the script,” he said.

“In the 80s it was very relevant in terms of what was going on in the world, and I feel like it is just as relevant now, and felt like this was the right time to do it.”

Challis, who’s also the artistic director of Tale Spinner Theatre, said the script is one he’s carried around for a long time.

“When I saw Sean (Overby) and Miranda (Ironstand-Baxter) in Mamma Mia, I thought they’d be perfect for this show,” Challis said.

“It’s exciting. It’s been fun working with them.”

After asking the pair to be in the show, Challis provided them with the script, because there is some content in the show that some people might be afraid of.

“They both loved it and were extremely excited to get started,” Challis said.

“What’s very interesting about the way the script is written is that it never comes out and says that either character is gay. It’s implied through the words, but the struggle of the characters in terms of what you hide and what you don’t is very real.”

While the play was written around the time of rising stigma around HIV and AIDS, Challis thinks its themes are as relevant, if not more relevant, now.

Overby agreed.

“People say everyone is open about homosexuality, but in reality, they’re not,” he said.

“There’s just as much homophobia (now) as there was back then. It’s hard to be an out gay person, in Prince Albert especially.”

Both Overby and Ironstand-Baxter said performing in this show is unlike anything they’ve ever taken on.

“It’s been really interesting. I’ve never done a show where it’s been so hard-hitting and heavy at some points,” Ironstand-Baxter said.

“It hurts. There are parts where I sit there and I understand Carlyle’s pain.”

“I’ve never done anything like this, with just two people on stage,” said Overby.

“I’ve always been in bigger productions and musicals. This is something new. I’m glad Dannyll approached us with it. I’m happy I was able to take this on because it was such a new experience.”

Overby and Ironstand-Baxter thanked Challis for allowing them to have the opportunity to put on this show and working with their busy schedules. Challis said working with both of the actors has been great.

He’s hoping people come out to see something different from what’s usually put on in Prince Albert.

“I think it’s relevant,” he said. “I think there’s a message that no matter who you are, you can take something away from it.”

The Stonewater Rapture by Doug Wright runs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre for the arts. Tickets are $21 and available at the centre.

It’s also being performed at the Battleford’s Community Players Clubhouse on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for that show are $25 at the door.

Following those two performances, Tale Spinner Theatre will be taking the show to a one-act play festival.