File photo Kaitlan Hunter rehearses a role she will reprise in Jewel a one-woman play directed by Ann Skelhorne and this year’s Shuswap Theatre entry in the Theatre BC OZone Festival.

Shuswap Theatre enters a gem

One-woman play Jewel is this year’s entry to the Theatre BC OZone Festival

Shuswap Theatre board members will enter a real Jewel in the Theatre BC OZone Festival.

After cancelling its third performance becase of casting issues, the board had struck a committee to come up with a collaborative production.

Instead, board members have looked over their shoulders to BC playwright Joan MacLeod’s “Jewel,” which enjoyed a successful run two seasons ago and are grateful director Ann Skellhorne and actor Kaitlan Hunter are up to the challenge of reprising the play.

Introduced in Toronto in 1987, the play is based on a real-life catastrophe – the sinking of the Ocean Ranger, an oil rig off the coast of Newfoundland, on Valentine’s Day, 1982.

Three years later, widow Marjorie Clifford, at home in her trailer in Fort St. John, begins to take the first step in understanding that the humanity of love can free a life paralyzed and dominated by loss.

Skelhorne, grew up in Fort St. John and lived there at the time this play takes place.

“My imagination was captured by the idea that Marjorie Clifford was somewhere nearby even if only in a perfectly made-up world,” she says. “The play makes a big national event something personal and real and places it in our own back yard.”

Skellhorne says the Ocean Ranger disaster bluntly illustrated how little ordinary lives are valued when weighed against big profits.

“More so, this story is about the universal experience of love and loss. In the vulnerability of allowing ourselves to fully love, we all inevitably will also grieve,” she says. “Sooner or later however, we are confronted with the unrelenting pull of the current of life that moves us forward. Marjorie’s story presents us with a choice, we can stay anchored to the bottom of the ocean and drown in our grief, or we can surface and rejoin life and be grateful for what has passed.”

Hunter has been appearing on stage at Shuswap Theatre since she was 16 years old. She is perhaps best known for her performance in the two-hander, “Wrong for Each Other” in 2011.

She went on to win Best Supporting Actress at the OZone Festival for her role as Hester Fletcher in “The Herbal Bed” and worked behind the scenes as Stage Manager for “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged).”

Hunter first appeared as Marjorie Clifford in “Jewel” in 2015 to rave reviews and is excited for this opportunity to reprise the role for a wider audience.

Tickets for “Jewel” are available on-line at shuswaptheatre.com/events/tickets. Tickets can also be purchased at Intwined Fibre Arts on Hudson Avenue or at the door one hour before the show.

The play runs at Shuswap Theatre on Thursday, May 18 and Friday, May 19 and will open the festival on Saturday, May 20 at 7:30 p.m. Visit shuswaptheatre.com for information.

“Hosting OZone will be a significant event for Shuswap Theatre this year,” says theatre rep Hammy McClymont.

“Theatres from Princeton, Oliver, Vernon, Armstrong and two from Kelowna will be participating in the weeklong festival (May 20-27).”

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