HOMEGROWN PLAY- James Popoff stars at Todd Williams in the burnt thicket theatre production of Hockey Dad: A Play in Three Periods. Shows run Oct. 27-30 at the Scott Block in downtown Red Deer.

Hockey Dad hits the stage at the Scott Block

After proving a hit with folks at the Vancouver Winter Olympics and several summer festival stints, Hockey Dad: A Play in Three Periods returns to Alberta Oct. 27-30 at the Scott Block.

Presented by the Calgary-based burnt thicket theatre, curtain is 7:30 p.m.

Burnt thicket theatre artistic director James Popoff co-created the show and also stars as its sole performer Todd Williams.

Popoff said he would describe the production as a drama with comic bits surfacing throughout. “It’s not just a story for hockey families – beyond that, it’s a play about family.”

Looking back to his younger days, Todd Williams was a guy apparently hooked on hockey and submerged in hockey culture. He wore ‘bob’ skates before he could walk, and had daily hockey drills with his dad on the backyard rink. But it didn’t click with him quite like his hockey-loving father would perhaps have liked.

Jump ahead a few years and now Todd is living his worst nightmare – his young daughter is clearly hooked on hockey. So he finds himself trapped in a rink side dressing room with his childhood demons. Loads of memories come flooding back in that environment, and audiences get a firsthand glimpse into Todd’s views on the sport and the intricacies of relationship within a family.

“I wanted to honour my dad and emphasize the relationships of dads with their kids – that’s how it began to emerge,” he explains of the story’s conception. He wrote Hockey Dad with Stephen Waldschmidt and it was first staged in Calgary back in the early winter of 2008.

“It’s surprising to see how much of my own story is finding its way into the script, from my sons’ recent romance with the game to my dad’s years with the Lloydminster Border Kings.”

In his own life, he dropped hockey for a while but his interest was kind of reignited in the past few years. Also, his own boys have shown an avid interest in the game as well.

Still, it’s not strictly biographical by any means although he has borrowed elements from his own life. “People often feel that when you give a solo performance, you are telling your story.”

Audiences garner plenty from the engaging show, some telling Popoff they’ve relished the play for its sheer charm as entertainment to those who have really enjoyed observing the powerful and perhaps more subtle layers of the script.

For Popoff, hitting the stage as the sole performer brings its own set of challenges and rewards. His passion for acting, and for telling stories is ultimately what fuels performances.

“In lots of way, the audience becomes your scene partner – that’s how I’ve always felt.”

Tickets are $12 in advance dream and $15 at the door. Those who attend wearing a hockey jersey pay the advance ticket price.

To reserve tickets, call 403-274-8847 or go online at www.burntthicket.com.

mweber@reddeerexpress.com

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