Re-reading the Jedi Handbook

By James Keller

When I was younger, a friend of mine had the greatest toy. It was a fully functional Millennium Falcon–the doors opened, the guns aimed around, and to top it off, the lights flashed and the engine sounded. Going over to his house just down the block was the best thing I could possibly think of.

A few years have passed and more Star Wars movies made it to the screen. I’ve grown out of the Millennium Falcon and moved on to more grown-up things (plus, my friend moved away, making it harder than ever to fight the Empire). However, just like the cast of Stephen Massicotte’s The Jedi Trilogy, presented by the U of C Drama Department and Ground Zero Theatre, it is the memories that will carry on.

"I’m not a total nerd like some of the cast, but I’m a fan of Star Wars," laughs cast member and University of Calgary Drama student Dan Perrott. "The memories here are very universal. It’s totally out of my childhood."

This production is the culmination of Massicotte’s trilogy that began with the staging of Ground Zero’s The Boy’s Own Jedi Handbook, followed by The Girls Strike Back shortly after, both of which open up this performance. The two plays followed a young boy and his friend as they grow up. In the first installment, they watch Star Wars for the first time and in the second, they begin the agonizing task of dealing with girls. The third and final episode, Return of the Jedi Handbook–seen now for the first time–introduces a bad seed, played by Perrott, tempting the boy’s friend.

Although Perrott’s character is clearly reminiscent of the emperor in the movies, the plays aren’t adaptations of their Hollywood inspirations.

"Each chapter isn’t just taken from the movies and changed," Perrott begins. "As this kid looks back on these episodes of his childhood, they start being influenced by the Star Wars scenes."

According to Kate Pakarnyk, a U of C Bachelor of Fine Arts Alumnus, it is Massicotte’s award winning talent for capturing memory that makes the trilogy accessible to all ages and backgrounds.

"Massicotte captures youth beautifully," says Pakarnyk. "Everybody can reminisce, but he does it very poetically."

According to actress and co-star Christy Greene, the youthful immaturity resurrected within the play brings with it some very pleasant nostalgia.

"He’s come up with familiar phrases: ‘your mom’s a good sewer’ or ‘why don’t you marry it?’" laughs Greene. "It’s the stuff you hear and say when you were a kid that I forgot about until I read them in the script. It was beautiful."

While the Star Wars references will undoubtedly garner attention and fans alike, nostalgia will make the trilogy an instant classic. Every generation has their own memories to hang onto.

"There’s this available memory in every era," Pakarnyk explains. "In the eras of our parents, it might have been Marvel Comics; in the kids today, it will definitely be Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings. For Stephen’s memories; it was Star Wars."

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