New Canadian Work by the Queer Theatre Creation Ensemble Illuminates Ancient Roman-Christian History

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Calgary, AB – Third Street Theatre presents the world premiere of The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus by the Queer Theatre Creation Ensemble. This three-person historical drama is on original work based on the controversial true story of two Roman soldiers married by the Christian church in 300 AD and martyred for their faith by the Roman Empire. The production runs April 22rd – May 3rd, 2014 at EPCOR CENTRE’s Motel and is the second creation work by the Queer Theatre Creation Ensemble. Their first original work, This Is How I Left, was nominated for two Calgary Critics Awards in 2013 including Best New Script.

The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus illuminates a battle between religion, passion and loyalty that rages in the 4th Century as Roman soldiers Sergius and Bacchus realize their love for each other and for Christ. Their newfound religion will cost them friendships, honour, and freedom, but will they renounce their faith before it ultimately costs them their lives? Creation Facilitator, Paul Welch says the characters share “an indescribable bond and must navigate the treacherous waters of faith and mortality in pursuit of an everlasting life together. The power of this bond”, Welch says, “lies in the question, “What are you willing to die for?” A question far from our current reality when we think about modern day convictions.”

The Passion of Sergius and Bacchus features an ensemble cast of Matt McKinney, Amy Sawka and Simon Tottrup. The production team includes facilitator Paul Welch, production assistant Jonathan Brower, set, light, & costume designer Leon Schwesinger, assistant designer Jason Ho, sound designer Michael Wanless, Dramaturg Laurel Green, and stage manager Anne McIlveen.

The production runs Wednesday, April 23rd through Saturday, May 3rd, nightly shows Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm. 2 pm matinees April 26th, 27th & May 3rd. April 22nd is a special 2 for 1 preview with a portion of the proceeds going to the Chinook Foundation.

Tickets are $20-25 and can be purchased through the EPCOR CENTRE Box Office at 403-294-9494 or online at

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Calgary Herald Review of Late, A Cowboy Song

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Get tickets here. Late, A Cowboy Song runs until March 22nd at Motel in the Epcor Centre.

Solid leads and genuine writing keeps Late, A Cowboy Song trotting along

Article by Stephen Hunt, Calgary Herald Arts & Entertainment. March 13, 2014. 

Playwrights are always on the clock, even if it’s just the clock inside their heads.

That’s because plays like Late, A Cowboy Song, which opened Wednesday at Motel, in lieu of the sorts of bells and whistles the movies employ to hold an audience’s attention, must keep up the motor, pick up the cues, keep the thing moving or else risk losing everyone’s attention.

Photo by Jason Ho
Photo by Jason Ho

Unless you’re Sarah Ruhl, that is.

She’s the talented playwright behind Late, A Cowboy Song, which tells the story of the marriage of Mary Smith (Carly McKee) and Crick Thorndigger (Kyall Rakoz), a young Pittsburgh couple who have been in love since the second grade, and Mary’s curious relationship with a cowboy (Genevieve Pare) named Red, who lives on horse time.

Mary is a dreamy individual, someone for whom the every day realities of contemporary life are agony, for one major reason: she’s always late.

Life keeps getting in Mary’s way, even as Crick proposes to her, and they give birth to a child who’s a little bit boy and a little bit girl, necessitating a little bit of surgery to set the child straight — only to have the couple agree to disagree on what name to call her (Crick calls her Jill; Mary calls her Blue).

Meanwhile, Crick is a boy-man with control issues, determined to shape Mary up so that they might live the sort of romantic fantasy marriage of his imagination.

It all unfolds in a series of scenelettes in the tiny Motel, that alternate between the couple’s apartment and Red’s real, or imagined, cowboy universe.

Ruhl has an unflinching willingness to keep it real, which also produces genuinely funny exchanges.

During one scene, Mary simply reads The Joy of Cooking, which she makes sound like a cockfight by reading the instructions to make clear soup.

During another scene, Mary and Red eat Chinese food while they try to figure out who was fighting who in the Vietnam and Korean conflicts.

“North and South,” says Red, laconically. “Always North and South.”

Late, A Cowboy Song unfolds so casually and deliberately and oddly, that you almost don’t notice that it’s got quite a bit of beautifully human writing in it.

Pare is wonderful as Red, even though I figured she was a figment of Mary’s imagination. Even if she was, Pare — who was sensational in a completely different way in 2013’s Polygraph — completely commits to Red’s cowboy’s eye view of life without ever turning the character into a cartoon — and she can really sing a cowboy song, too.

Rakoz and McKee also deliver solid performances as the alienated soulmates who are out of time with one another. McKee’s Mary is the linchpin of Late, a woman stuck between what the world wants her to be and how she wants to be, and McKee really does take Mary on a soul-searching journey, even if it does climax in a Chinese restaurant where all her fortune cookies end up blank.

As Late winds down, the energy flags a little, and Ruhl’s low-key writing style — think Sam Shephard meets Jane Anderson — begins to hit the wall a little, much in the same way that Mary starts disappearing from her family for seven-hour-long walks that never really lead anywhere.

But in a week that celebrates playwrights over at ATP (where they produced Ruhl’s The Clean House back in 2006), Third Street Theatre has served up a tasty sampling menu of the early work of one the U.S.’s top playwrights.

Third Street presents Late, A Cowboy Song

at Motel through March 22

Three and a half stars

© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald
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