By Colin Flynn
Isn’t life Grand?
The folks at Theatre Junction certainly believe so. Corny jokes aside, the theatre companies’ newly renovated $12 million playhouse, the Grand, has reopened its doors and is set to stage its debut production. March 21 was the opening of Far Away, the first artistic performance at the Grand in more than 50 years. Director Kevin McKendrick knows there are a lot of eyes set on his new playhouse.
“I have to admit there is a certain amount of pressure because it is a brand new space and much has been made about the Grand,” he beams. “As you can see it is spectacular.”
Though the production constitutes a fresh start for the company and the new theatre, there has been no shortage of setbacks. McKendrick is confident, however, his performances will deliver as promised because every person involved has put in the necessary work.
“There have been minor snags, but it is a first-rate team running the theatre and our production, along with a fabulous group of artists,” he remarks.
Far Away was written by British playwright Caryl Churchill and tells the story of a young girl, Joan, who while visiting with relatives bears witness to an atrocious crime. The play is divided into three vignettes chronicling Joan’s story as she is embraced by a movement obsessed with safety and security. Franca Haesler, who plays Joan as a child as enjoyed her experience but is understandably nervous.
“I’m nervous because I have a loose tooth and if it falls out it would be kind of bad,” she says.
The safety movement eventually rises to the level of a global power, while Joan transforms into a young woman and brings the world to the brink of the apocalypse. McKendrick believes politically charged pieces are important and can have a profound effect on people and their thoughts.
“Harold Pinter said, ‘theatre should always be interesting and entertaining, though mostly interesting,’” he says. “Caryl Churchill is making a strong statement in part of the play that as artists we have responsibilities to reflect the world we live in to affect change.”