MTYP ready to send par­ents to penalty box

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - KEVIN PROKOSH

HOCKEY’S back... even at Man­i­toba The­atre for Young Peo­ple. In time for the end of the Na­tional Hockey League lock­out, the kids’ the­atre has re­vived one of its top-scor­ing shows, The Big League by Win­nipeg ac­tor/play­wright James Durham, for a main­stage run through Jan. 26 fol­lowed by a Man­i­toba tour set to play to more than 27,000 stu­dents be­fore the end of April.

Its pre­miere pro­duc­tion in 2005 lasted a then-record 86 per­for­mances at MTYP and drew a lot of at­ten­tion to the scourge of mi­nor-league hockey: parental rink rage. The top­i­cal sub­ject mat­ter has drawn in­ter­est from the­atres through­out the coun­try, es­pe­cially in Van­cou­ver, where the play has been staged four times, as well as across the Prairies to Lon­don and Toronto

The Big League in­vites young­sters into arena stands to watch 12-year-old Tommy try out for a triple-A hockey team while stick­han­dling around his dad’s in­creas­ing pres­sure to suc­ceed at all costs. It looks at a con­tin­u­ing so­cial prob­lem of par­ents who for­get hockey is just as game and lose track about what’s im­por­tant when they heckle ref­er­ees, be­rate coaches or scold the play­ers.

“Ev­ery­one knows or re­mem­bers a par­ent who would come to the rink and just scream,” says Ron Jenk­ins, back to di­rect The Big League again.

Jenk­ins, a fre­quent MTYP helms­man, was hardly a teen when his hockey games were marred by a team­mate’s dad show­ing up drunk and bel­liger­ent, loudly chastis­ing his son. It con­tin­ued un­til the coach had the par­ent banned from the rink.

“As a kid, you really don’t know what to say,” says Jenk­ins, who di­rected an­other hockey drama called Play­ing with Fire: The Theo Fleury Story for Cal­gary’s Al­berta The­atre Projects last May. “I know it was hu­mil­i­at­ing for the kid.”

If some chil­dren see their painful re­al­ity cap­tured on stage, so did moms and dads who have rec­og­nized them­selves and were grate­ful for hav­ing their eyes opened about their rink­side be­hav­iour, says Jenk­ins, a former Win­nipeg­ger who lives in Ed­mon­ton.

The Big League’s au­di­ence sits in stands flank­ing Leanne Fo­ley’s rep­re­sen­ta­tion of a neigh­bour­hood rink on which the cast of Tif­fany Aya­lik, Raes Calvert, Brent Gill and Corey Wo­j­cik whirl around on in-line skates. It is pre­sented like an hour-long hockey game, with three pe­ri­ods that re­flect the emo­tional state Tommy and his fa­ther are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, be­fore they go into sud­den-death over­time.

Get in the game at MTYP to­day and Sun­day at 1 and 4 p.m. as well as Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. and again at 1 and 4 p.m. on Jan. 26 Tick­ets are $15.50 plus GST and are avail­able by call­ing 204942-8898 or atwww.mtyp.ca

One show that shouldn’t be over­looked dur­ing one of the busiest times of the Win­nipeg stage sea­son is the long over­due de­but of Martin McDonagh’s sav­agely dark com­edy, The Crip­ple of Inish­maan.

Any­one who re­mem­bers the bleakly funny The Beauty Queen of Leenane or The Lone­some West knows that McDonagh al­ways shocks and en­ter­tains. The vi­o­lence and pro­fane di­a­logue of his scripts has earned him a well-de­served rep­u­ta­tion as the Ir­ish Quentin Tarantino of the stage.

The Univer­sity of Man­i­toba stu­dents in the Black Hole The­atre are pre­sent­ing Crip­ple, the story about the monotony on the iso­lated is­land of Inish­maan that is bro­ken when a film crew ar­rives nearby. Ev­ery­one in­clud­ing “Crip­ple” Billy Claven, want into the movie to es­cape the bore­dom.

“McDonagh has said he wants peo­ple to leave his plays feel­ing like they just came out of a rock con­cert,” says di­rec­tor Mike Long, a fourth-year the­atre stu­dent. “He writes with no re­gard for the pro­duc­tion, about how any­one can stage his plays.”

In The Lieu­tenant of Inish­more, that meant scat­ter­ing the stage with blood and body parts. Ev­ery per­for­mance of The Lone­some West features the fren­zied de­struc­tion of about 100 re­li­gious stat­ues and fig­urines.

“In The Crip­ple of Inish­maan some- one gets four eggs smashed on them in two min­utes,” says Long, 25. “It’s a dream when you are read­ing it but then you have to fig­ure out how to do it.”

The 1997 Ir­ish yarn has been in the news re­cently be­cause Harry Pot­ter star Daniel Rad­cliffe will play the ti­tle char­ac­ter in Lon­don’s West End next June.

Crip­ple will be pre­sented tonight at 8 p.m. at the Black Hole The­atre, lower level of Univer­sity Col­lege, and also Jan. 23-26. Show­time is 7 p.m. next Tues­day. Tick­ets are $15, $12 for stu­dents and se­niors and can be re­served by call­ing 204-474-6880 or pur­chased at the door.

MTYP

The Big League ex­am­ines the prob­lem of par­ents who for­get hockey is just a game and heckle ref­er­ees, be­rate coaches and scold play­ers.

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