Arts and Culture is sponsored by JM Turner Goldsmith
by Stephen Dafoe
The Morinville Community Cultural Centre’s performance series continues this month with Accidental Humour’s Cowboy: A Cowboy Story, taking place at the centre Saturday, Jan. 14. The evening romp through the old west is a dinner and show. Cocktails are at 6 p.m.; dinner is at 6:30 p.m. and the evening’s show starts at 8 p.m.
Cowboy: A Cowboy Story is about a mysterious stranger who rides into a small town in the middle of nowhere only to find himself caught between a conniving sheriff, a crazed prospector, a coarse prostitute, and a gang of thugs. As if that is not enough, the stranger is hunted by a man in black connected to the stranger’s past. The Cowboy has to make the decision to continue running from his problems or make his stand.
Blazing Saddles and City Slickers notwithstanding, the western genre is one not commonly used for comedic purposes. But Accidental Humour Playwright Brent Felzien said the group had lots of material to work with in creating Cowboy: A Cowboy Story for the stage.
“Accidental Humour specializes in creating comedy out of genres. We love to find the tropes that we all love and love to hate about our favourite genres and flip them on their head,” he said. “Westerns are ripe with clichés and stereotypes making them a great place to find humour. With Accidental Humour, we find the best comedy comes from staying true to the genre, in essence believing in it wholeheartedly. Our characters are ridiculous, but they don’t think they are, which makes the process of paying homage to the style, while simultaneously making fun of it, both easy and surprisingly difficult.”
A different kind of show
While Felzien said Morinville could expect to see gunfights, romance, horse-riding, a train robbery and other western tropes, they will all be in unexpected and hilarious ways.
But theatre-goers can expect a different type of show, one that mixes live theatre with pre-recorded tech.
“We use three projectors, pre-filmed movie scenes, and highly choreographed live performances to bring you a western that will have you flapping your gums like a grizzled prospector,” Felzien said, noting Accidental’s core philosophy is to create multimedia theatre that is accessible to a wide audience. “Part of that is to try and bridge the gap between traditional “theatre lovers” and those who are more “movie lovers” by creating something that is a mix of both. We ourselves love both movies and theatre but see how in the modern world of big Hollywood blockbusters it is easy for many people to write-off live theatre as boring and snobbish, in essence, not for them. We want to bring those people into the theatre and show them that it can be big, fun, hilarious and made just for them without compromising our craft. We are 100 per cent Alberta artists touring Alberta-make art across Alberta. That is very important to us.”
Felzien said the show features the same five cast members as when it was developed in 2011.
“Part of the challenge with our shows is that, due to all the pre-filmed sequences, we cannot re-cast actors in order to do a performance, so we need everyone on board before we can do a tour,” he said. “This is why we work with people who are both professional and committed to the project, not to mention people we trust. That trust comes from years of working together and makes the whole process not only rewarding as artists, but also incredibly fun, and that sense of fun definitely comes through on stage.”
Tickets for Cowboy: A Cowboy Story are $50 for adults and $40 for seniors and students. They are available at the cultural centre box office during business hours.