Mary Walsh’s new play Canada, It’s Complicated is celebrating its national launch in St. John’s on September 12th at the Arts & Culture Centre. The play will go on to tour the country for ten weeks, visiting almost every Canadian province and territory.
Canada, It’s Complicated is a satirical revue of the history of Canada. Using a series of vignettes (some with song and dance), the play takes a close look at the stories we tell ourselves about Canada, and the stories about Canada that often get overlooked.
Walsh wrote the play with the help of a writing team comprised of some of the country’s best-known playwrights, comedians, and musicians including Derek Segun, Quantum Tangle, Marie Clements, Mike Allison, Mary-Colin Chisholm, Thomas King, Trent Maclellan, Scott Montgomery, Christian Murray, and Mieko Ouchi.
The play’s culturally diverse cast is made up of actors and comedians from all over the country. Local actors, Peter MacDonald and Jamie Pitt have both landed roles in the ambitious production.
“We definitely want to turn the mirror on our audiences and call out the things that are ludicrous about Canada, and the things we’ve been shoving under the rug. But there’s also a lot of joy in this piece and the play ends with hope and offers a solution to the overwhelming present,” Pitt said, describing Canada, It’s Complicated.
Pitt says being a part of the show has been exhilarating, and as an actor she is learning a lot about being versatile and open to improvisation. Walsh’s collaborative directorial style has given the actors lots of opportunities to offer input and make changes to the show.
“We were still work shopping the scripts until about four weeks ago and finding out how the lines we were given worked with our bodies and our voices, and our types of storytelling,” Pitt said, “Then the scripts were altered a bit depending on our chemistry.”
As well as giving cast members the opportunity to suggest changes, Walsh encouraged them to talk about how the narratives about Canada that are examined in the play have impacted them as individuals.
“Mary wanted to establish that we felt these stories in our bones and she made sure there was space for people to talk about how history is what hurts in their own lives, if people wanted to share,” Pitt said.
Pitt says that because the play tackles difficult subject matter through a satirical lens it’s not easy to predict how audiences will respond, especially to the vignettes that deal with stories from their own part of Canada. However, she’s confident the play will land lots of big laughs in St. John’s.
“We hope people come out and are open to learning and open to laughing with us,” Pitt said.