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Providence Stages Historical Play with Personal Connections
2013-02-12

Providence Theatre is set to stage a delightful and heartwarming play that celebrates one-room school teachers and their students.

Schoolhouse, by Canadian playwright Leanna Brodie, centres on Miss Linton, an eighteen-year-old teacher fresh from normal school. Miss Linton handles interested bachelors, town gossips, and rambunctious children with ease, but her greatest challenge is a new pupil, Ewart Rokosh. Ewart is a young offender who has been sent to do manual labour on a nearby farm. While the community bristles at Ewart's presence, Miss Linton sees his potential and strives to gain his trust.

The historical aspects of Schoolhouse will be familiar to many audience members. While one-room schools have largely disappeared from the prairie landscape, they live on in the teachers and students who spent years within those four walls. Cast member Keanan Byggdin has a family connection to the story, as his grandmother taught in a one-room school. "Her first teaching job was actually the same year as the play, 1938," says Byggdin. "Through acting in Schoolhouse, I feel a stronger connection with my grandmother's memory. I can start to see and feel what she saw and felt, and I hope that is true for the audience as well."

Though set in the past, the play has themes relevant to today's audiences. Cast member Jeremy Segstro comments that the play reflects his own experiences of rejection and acceptance: "Like Ewart, I have had various mentors in my life, and it was the love of God shown through these people that saved me and gave me the chance to re-orient my life." Segstro calls Schoolhouse "my own story in a different time period." Assistant stage manager Madison Friesen also connects emotionally with the play. "I want to tell this story because I have been an outsider," Friesen says. For her, the central idea is that "everyone has a place in this world," and that "hope can change a life."

Schoolhouse Director Marie Raynard says the story is a perfect fit for Providence's Theatre program. "This is a play with rich historical features as well as profound personal significance," Raynard explains. "Schoolhouse reflects our program's commitment to education, creativity, and excellence."

Public performances are 7:30 nightly at Providence University College, Feb. 21-23. Reserve tickets are available for $8.50 by calling 204-433-7488. Tickets will also be available at the door for $10.00.


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