U of C prof stirs up Lunchbox

By Karoline Czerski

“New energy, new impulse and new ideas.”
This is how Clem Martini describes his new piece The Replacement, scheduled to open next week at Lunchbox Theatre. The Replacement is the story of Norman, a widowed man who decides to take the leap back into the dating world. He invites a woman over for dinner but is surprised that, when she backs out of the date, a replacement guest shows up at his door. How Norman deals with this new challenge, we must wait and see.
Challenges are hardly new to playwright Clem Martini, an assistant professor in the University of Calgary drama department. The Replacement is Clem’s 11th production at the popular downtown theatre, and his bio also includes over a decade of film and television scriptwriting, radio, books, teaching, and the development of Theatre Sports.
But, judging by the Lunchbox shirt Clem sports during the interview, this talented man is linked tighter to the theatre company than meets the eye.
“Lunchbox is a very unique venue,” Martini says. “After 25 years of existence, it is one of the oldest theatre companies in Canada.
Martini is also involved with a program called Stage One Works, which researches and generates production for one-act plays written specifically by Canadians.
“About 50 per cent of Lunchbox plays come from Stage One,” boasts Clem.
By Canadian standards, this is unique indeed, much like Clem’s new piece.
Craig Davidson, who plays Norman, sums it up in a nutshell: “This is the story of a Hermit who meets a Martha Stewart clone. It is a play everyone can identify with.”
It is the story of a man faced with the unexpected, where he can either take up a new challenge, or shut the door and return to the comfortable stagnancy of his life. This dilemma is not unlike the problem for most students who, faced with the swarm of mid-term exams, can either rise to the study challenge, or sink back to the comfortable procrastination routine.
In further discussion, Davidson persists that the play is light and comedic.
“It has gentle humor, and a lot of heart,” notes Davidson.
“But at the same time,” says Martini, “this is a dark comedy, with many tragic elements.”
Perhaps this is the story of a tragic Martha Stewart clone who meets a lighthearted hermit in a dark comedy about new energy, new impulse, and new ideas. Perhaps this is a play aimed at a loyal and enthusiastic audience that has persistently been drawn to the Lunchbox Theatre, or hopefully, a larger audience still.
Although Lunchbox successfully attracts the downtown business crowd, it seems to be opening up to other viewers, as well. With university students in mind, Clem dreams of a “Lunchbox Shuttle Express” that would commute lunch hour student theatre enthusiasts to and from the show. The Lunchbox Theatre staff have a different idea; in addition to the noon hour shows running Nov. 4–23, The Replacement has a “Happy Hour” on Fri., Nov. 15 at 6 p.m., that includes an open bar. Be ensured, black comedy or light humour, this piece will provide short and sweet entertainment, Martha Stewart and all.

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