A cast performs a staged reading of a play during a recent Breaking Cover event at the Red Deer Public Library downtown. The next Breaking Cover event takes place March 10th. photo submitted

‘Breaking Cover’ gears up for latest installment

Staged play reading runs March 10th at the Public Library downtown

Red Deer Players’ next installment of ‘Breaking Cover’ runs March 10th and will focus on Swingers, penned by Red Deer’s own Albert Azzara.

Breaking Cover offers an engaging afternoon of taking in a staged reading of a play by an Alberta author, followed by an opportunity to chat directly with the playwright about the project. There are only a couple of run-throughs before the performance, but that adds to the freshness and vitality of the show.

The process can also give the playwright some valuable ideas for further tweaks.

Things get underway at 1:45 p.m. in the Red Deer Public Library’s Snell Auditorium (downtown branch).

This edition of Breaking Cover is being directed by Keith Ainscough, who himself has a lengthy repertoire of performances in community theatre.

Breaking Cover, which is run in partnership with Friends of the Library and kicked off last Fall, offers a terrific means for folks to explore the inner workings of how a play really takes shape.

Ainscough has taken part twice in prior Breaking Cover events as an actor.

He noted that the title of the play is in reference to a playground – not ‘swingers’ in the sense of the 1960s with the car keys in the jar.

“The play traces the relationship between two people – it takes them from when they very first meet as teenagers through the course of their subsequent marriage and into old age,” he explained. According to Azzara’s notes, casts can also play this in the reverse, going from old age backwards to the couple’s first meeting as well – and that’s the way Ainscough has decided to present it. “We decided that the play might have a little more interest to run it backwards,” he said.

Themes of how a relationship evolves are of course at the heart of the play. Of course, in this case, that will be examined, as mentioned, in reverse.

“The central theme I would say is the search for identity and personal fulfillment. It’s a play about hopes and dreams and disappointments and how life rarely turns out the way that we had it planned,” he said.

The first scene opens in present day, where we find Elizabeth at a playground where the swings are. She’s in her 60s and showing some early signs of dementia. Her husband Richard joins her at that moment, and then we are swept 20 years earlier to explore the couple’s relationship at that point in time. And so on. The reading is broken down into four different eras of the couple’s journey.

It all makes for a fascinating study in this couple’s relationship, and with a solid cast of Roxzane Armstrong and Perry Mill, it’s tough to go wrong.

Breaking Cover is a tremendous opportunity for local actors, directors, script writers and audiences. For those onstage, it’s not a huge time commitment but it’s certainly a blast to get together with like-minded folks for a fun afternoon of theatrical exploration.

The other feature of the shows is that they don’t come with full staging – there’s no costuming, no props, no set, no special effects.

It’s just the ‘read’ which makes for a really unique experience for all involved.

“I like the idea of sitting down with bare material, words on a page with two or three actors around a table and just starting the process and see it come to fruition. That’s what I like about it.

“And when you’ve got two experienced and very talented people, your job is two-thirds done as a director!

“I see it as kind of a collaborative thing.”

This year’s Breaking Cover series wraps up June 9th with an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The series will continue next Fall as well.

There is no admission charge for Breaking Cover performances, but support via a silver donation at the door is appreciated. For more information about Red Deer Players, check out www.reddeerplayers.com.

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