This Saturday I had a meeting scheduled in Red Deer and so decided to travel a day early – hoping to find some good entertainment for Friday night. The Black Night Inn was selling tickets to the play “Greater Tuna” and I shelled out my $28.00 to see it. From the advertising, I was hoping that I would have a “Letters from Wingfield Farm” experience or at least a couple of laughs but that definitely wasn’t the case.
The lively country music played before the curtain opened was promising and the two actors who switched costumes and roles in a matter of minutes throughout had some good skills but the setting and content of the play was disturbing to say the least. First of all, it was obvious that “Greater Tuna” was written about an American community of several decades ago. Whatever happened to Canadian content – especially when one of the sponsors is The Alberta Foundation for the Arts?
A radio station portrayed in the script had call letters “OKKK” and broadcast information about a meeting that was being held for people with weapons who would discuss how to deal with the sharecroppers. Body language included cocking a rifle.
There were several other highly discriminatory lines that were race bashing and frankly, I didn’t think any of that was very appropriate.
Just before the intermission, one of the female characters poisoned a dog and then made arrangements to have it run over with a vehicle. Apparently this was not the first time that the woman had murdered feline. That’s not funny!
The crowd consisted of more staff than ticket buyers and I didn’t want to walk out in the middle of the acting because the ushers had been so kind and welcoming. One of them told me that tomorrow-Saturday night- is their “Save the Stage” performance and there was obvious hope that theatre would be packed and the play well received.
I waited until intermission and tried to quietly sneak out but was stopped by ushers who asked my opinion. Being a positive person, I commented on the music but, when asked point blank about the play I could not lie. My comment was “The actors are good but I didn’t like the play because it was America and discriminatory”.
Heading to my car, I realized quickly that I wasn’t alone as I saw other audience members were also heading to their vehicles and pulling out of the parking lot.
This is a shame! The theatre is lovely and it would be nice to see that the building is “saved” but not if the stage is going to be used for a trashy script like we witnessed tonight. No wonder people left at intermission!
Since returning to my hotel I read articles from the Red Deer Advocate and the Red Deer Express that called the work ‘redneck’. Well, obviously “redneck” isn’t selling in Red Deer! I’m not even sure that ‘redneck’ is the right term for this. It was more like pre-civil rights – before everyone was expected to respect other people and their animals. And it certainly wasn’t dignified Alberta!
Before tonight I truly believed that we, as a society had matured to a much higher level than this! Maybe I was wrong!
Dr. Linda Hancock
Registered Psychologist and Registered Social Worker