It was fate. “I was in the Library and this play literally fell off the shelf onto my feet,” says Murray Pruden, a third-year dramatic arts major.
After one quick read he was hooked on Education is Our Right by Drew Hayden Taylor, one of Canada’s leading Aboriginal playwrights. Pruden directs the play from Jan. 25 to 27 at 8 p.m. in the David Spinks Theatre, with a matinee on Jan. 27 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $11 regular and $7 student/senior.
Borrowing from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, the play follows a minister of Indian affairs as he encounters the Spirits of Education Past, Present and Future. “The play is humorous, spiritual and passionate,” says Pruden. “It may also provide audiences with a little Canadian history.”
Dealing with Aboriginal student issues, the play has broader implications for the future of all students. The play is humorous and light-hearted, but elicits laughter edged with the disturbing awareness of stereotypes being exploded.
“People feel connected to the play, but find themselves asking difficult questions,” says Pruden.
The five actors play 18 characters and use body language and movements as stepping-stones to create each character’s unique persona.
Since this is a TheatreXtra production, the costumes and sets are quite simple. “All you really need to tell a good story are words and actions – costumes and sets are extra,” says Pruden.
“It’s a learning process for everyone. The director’s job is to guide the actors, who are the instruments bringing the story to life,” says Pruden. “Lots of actors auditioned, and choosing the cast was the toughest part of my job.”
Pruden loves directing. “I enjoy using my creativity to take a vision, mould it and turn it into reality. It is always exciting to finish with something bigger and better than expected because of creative input from the cast and design team,” he says.
A Cree from the Saddle Lake-Goodfish First Nation north of Edmonton, Pruden attended Keyano College before transferring to the U of L this past fall. His goal is to start his own theatre company with an emphasis on Aboriginal and contemporary theatre. He is working towards an Aboriginal entrepreneur business certificate from Keyano College at the same time as he is working on his bachelor of fine arts degree.
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