A Newfoundland play for a new Newfoundland will start its run today until April 16.
“The Battery,” directed by Emma Tibaldo of Playwright’s Workshop Montréal and written by Megan Coles, tells the tale of two best friends (Bridget Wareham and Natalia Hennelly) bartending in St. John’s.
Surrounded by a colourful cast of supporting characters, including a 50-year-old stripper and a KFC-eating divorcée, who trickle in and out of the bar, the two friends are forced to question the strength of their friendship when one of them ends up in an abusive relationship.
Coles said the play was inspired by experience.
“Like any number of liberal arts graduates, I took a job in the service industry after finishing my undergrad. It was during this time that a dear friend of mine became entangled in a very negative relationship,” she said.
“Domestic violence is recognized as a pervasive social problem in Canada. Almost 29 per cent of women in our country who have been married or in a common law relationship have experienced physical or sexual abuse.”
She describes her play as a theatrical response to the issue, citing perceived social injustices as her main inspiration for most of her work.
Although many refer to “The Battery” as her domestic abuse play, she thinks of it as her friendship play.
“Young men and women, who have been fiercely loyal to one another to point, discover their friendships tested when romantic relationships occur,” she said.
“It’s the old abandonment conflict, the ‘I’ll never ditch my friends for a guy’ when we always do. At some point humans pair off and the romantic relationship becomes priority. Things become further complicated when this romantic relationship is adversely affecting the people in it and those around them.”
A co-production between Resource Centre for the Arts and Coles’ Poverty Cove Theatre Company (PCTC, which she founded with Shannon Hawes in 2009), a mandate of the latter company is to introduce seasoned and non-seasoned theatre-goers to unconventional venue spaces.
The purpose is to alter common perceptions of where theatre happens and what theatre is. Therefore, this play will be staged in a bar — at The Republic on Duckworth Street.
“We’re wildly grateful to Steve Power of The Republic for being so patient and understanding while we dismantle and re-mantle his bar in the play’s image,” she said.
“He has been awesome. The whole cast and crew have been amazing. PCTC has been extremely lucky to work with such a talented and creative group of people our first time out. Also, we could not have done any of this without the mentorship of RCA. Amy House and all the gang at the hall have been very supportive of the development of my work and our company.”
Coles is currently working on her next play, “Camp,” which challenges preconceived notions concerning racism, sexual assault and violence in an isolated northern community.
PCTC is looking forward to next season, when it hopes to produce Amy Lee Lavoie’s “Rabbit Rabbit,” and Coles’ play “Bound,” in early 2012.
“The Battery” runs upstairs at The Republic (379 Duckworth Street), from April 13-16. Tickets are $15 and are available at the LSPU Hall Box Office (3 Victoria Street).
Call the LSPU hall at 709-753-4531 to book.
There is a pay-what-you-can matinee on April 16, with proceeds donated to the Naomi Centre.