SALTCOATS - The Laketown Players from Saltcoats are hard at it preparing for their annual dinner theatre production.
This year a light-hearted dramatic comedy, written by local playwright Steve Farquharson, will be the dramatic fare that follows a traditional Saltcoats beef dinner Feb. 1, 2, 3, in 2024.
This will be the 16th production for Laketown Players.
This year’s production is The Boys at Sunset.
“Mix together three old buddies who had always been ready for shenanigans, a classic cross-country marathon manned in part by some bored and less than helpful youth, competitors holding a grudge that goes back to their high school days, and you join The Boys at Sunset,” details a troupe release. “The product is a not so predictable unfolding of a chapter in the life of a community where not much that is earth-shaking happens. Chances are good that you will ‘know’ some of the characters. You may even live with some them!”
Local Saltcoats playwright Steve Farquharson tells more of the production.
“This year’s play ties together a few generations,” he told Yorkton This Week. “The play itself is a pretty light-hearted look at one person’s attempt to grow past a very old, high school grudge, along with two old-timers who still want to act a bit like little boys.
“The idea for the play is sort of based on the old saying that ‘old age and treachery will triumph over youth and talent.’”
Farquharson added life experience helped with the most recent play.
“I’ve been blessed to have several life-long friends, and there’s no doubt I’ve drawn on some of that in this play as well. What is sort of cool for me, is that I get to play one of the old-timers, alongside Grant Bjornerud, who’s been one of my best friends since we were three,” he admitted.
When it comes to ideas for a play Farquharson said it comes down to paying attention to the world.
“As far as where the ideas come from, I think when you are paying attention, being mindful of what is happening around you, and are looking for stories to tell, they seem to put themselves forward to you,” he said. “Being aware that there really aren’t ‘new’ stories, just different twists on them, makes me relax and just tell the story the way I want it told.”
Being a veteran writer helps too – at least sometimes.
“In some ways writing the plays is getting easier, but in some ways tougher,” offered Farquharson. “I rely so heavily on the great cast of actors and directors to help bring things to life, that I probably don’t pay enough attention to stage directions, and just count on people understanding what to do.
“But we seem to muddle through in practices and figure it out!”
Taking to the stage himself provides perspective.
“I’ve performed some of my own writing since high school, going back to when I did a Charlie Farquharson skit about the YRHS staff for the school Christmas program when I was in Grade 12,” related Farquharson.
“I think over the years I’ve developed a sense of confidence, that people will mostly enjoy what I’ve written -- and also the confidence to understand that not everybody will like it, and that’s okay!”
Generally this year’s play is a humorous one.
“This year’s play, ‘The Boys at Sunset’, is probably a bit lighter, with more silly jokes and laughter and fewer ‘deeper meaning’ moments than most of my plays,” said Farquharson.
“I think audiences will enjoy it.”
That doesn’t mean the new play quite tops Farquharson’s personal best list.
“I still think ‘Peanuts and Cracker Jacks’ is my favourite play that I’ve written, partly because it was my first play, but also because it’s about making good things happen, even if others can’t see it or believe in it.”he said.
Ultimately, Farquharson said he writes for the joy of it as much as anything.
“Writing plays is a lot of fun,” he said. “I often laugh out loud as I’m writing.
“And sometimes, if I write something a bit more emotional, I find myself crying as I’m writing.
“It usually doesn’t feel like I’m making it up, but I’m just seeing it as I type it.
“I’ll think about a play for months and months before I actually write anything. Little moments come to me, or lines, and I file them away for later.
“Once I actually sit down to write, I can usually write the play in a week or two, with a bit of editing and cleaning up afterwards. It probably should take longer, but I tend to procrastinate the actual writing, and by the time I start writing I have to have it in the actors hands in a week or two!”
For Farquharson the new production is his seventh play.
“I’ve been asked about whether I’d try to get them published quite a few times,” he said. “I think maybe I’d like to, somewhere down the road, but the process of actually getting that done would take up a fair bit of my time and I’m already busy with what I’ve committed to.
“So, I guess the short answer to whether I’m planning a book is, ‘not yet.’”
The annual production represents a tremendous effort on the part of the many volunteers who invite you to enjoy a community’s hospitality, great food, and an eager team of cast and crew.
Tickets are selling fast for the Dinner Theatre and for the Sunday dessert matinee Feb. 4. Tickets for the Dinner Theatre and the Sunday Matinee are available from Les and Shirley Pearson at 1-306-716-6564.