Recent History – 2002
July 3, 2002
By Jamie Dirom, Daily News Staff
Tales of a Catskinner, a locally produced play about a local story, is the perfect play for the 60th anniversary of the Alaska Highway.
The play, an entertaining and educational look at the creation of the highway 60 years ago was adapted last year, and rehearsals started five months ago. This week, the show had its first public performances.
The play is an adaptation of Chester L. Russell’s book, Tales of a Catskinner: An Account of Building the Alcan Highway in 1942-1943.
First shown in Pouce Coupe on Canada Day, the play was shown Tuesday at Sudeten Hall and will have another show to coincide with July 4 celebrations, also at Sudeten Hall.
“This play was the first time I got to adapt a real-life story,” said playwright and director Cynthia Livingstone, who said that the play was created after some discussion with April Moi, executive director of HelloNorth.
“We just thought there was a need for programming to celebrate the history of the highway,” she said.
Lots of visitors, as well as locals, want to know more about the highway’s history, she said. And while there are lots of static displays, there isn’t much out there that breaks the mold.
“There are very few things that help recreate the spirit of the day,” Livingstone said.
While the play is now ready to show, Livingstone said she’s hoping to bring more local stories to the stage.
And with the right mix of educational value and entertainment value as shown in this play, the stage may be the perfect way to bring new life to local stories.
The play is a one-man show, featuring Jeremy Beaulne in the role of Chester.
Beaulne gives a spirited and charismatic performance as both Chester in his older years, as well as the younger and irreverent Chester, a young military man with visions of shipping out to the Pacific theater of operations, only to find himself in Dawson Creek knocking over trees with a bulldozer.
Beaulne grabs the audience early and never lets go.
The adaptation is an excellent encapsulation of what working on the highway must have been like back in the 40’s.
As well as Beaulne’s strong performance, Jane and Don Gothard perform original music for the show –three songs that set the scene and help illustrate the play, as well as a few musical sound effects and punctuation during Beaulne’s performance.
The play’s next performance is Thursday night at Sudeten Hall, starting at 7:30 p.m. The showing is in conjunction with July 4 celebrations at Pioneer Village, but local residents are encouraged to attend as well.
The next planned performance of the play will be at the HelloNorth AGM this fall.