Unlikely pair Tom and Will, played by Alyxandar Szasz-Nicholson and Fred Jacklin (from left), meet at a gentlemen’s club and get an eyeful in the upcoming Merrick Productions production of The Birth of Weza at the Harbour City Theatre. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Play debating merits of procreation opens in Nanaimo

Merrick Productions presents ‘The Birth of Weza’ at Harbour City Theatre

Two eccentric couples weigh the pros and cons of procreation in the latest theatre production by Merrick Productions.

“I feel like we live in a time right now where I think (for) the generation before us and definitely the generation before that it was expected that couples had kids,” said Joe Bembridge, founder of the local production company. “And now we’re kind of in this limbo time where it’s somewhat optional.”

From Feb. 27 to 29 Merrick Productions is bringing to the Harbour City Theatre stage The Birth of Weza by Toronto and Montreal-based playwright Joanne Sarazen. Bembridge attended Concordia University with Sarazen and acted in some of her early plays. He last directed The Birth of Weza in Banff in 2016 and he hopes to give it “new life” in Nanaimo.

Bembridge said Serazen, who debuted her first feature film at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, is “on fire right now.”

“She’s becoming a heavy hitter in the Canadian screenwriting scene and so for us to be able to be putting up one of her early works here in Nanaimo is super exciting,” he said.

This is the second project from Merrick Productions, following last spring’s Miss Ellen Q: A Drag Love Story. Bembridge said his goal is to produce “edgy” shows that “aren’t afraid to talk about current issues that maybe people don’t talk about in a public platform.”

“Even with The Miss Ellen Q Show it was exploring this idea of love but in some ways non-traditional love … and in this story what’s interesting is that we are kind of talking about the taboo conversation of it’s all right to maybe not have children in today’s world,” he said.

Bembridge said it’s interesting to direct the play a second time and see how this new cast interprets the characters. He said they all have bold opinions when it comes to starting a family.

“What Joanne says is that she doesn’t write everyday people because she doesn’t know everyday people, which is a fun part of theatre is that you want to live in a different reality and for audiences to explore other people’s realities…” Bembridge said. “And so these are eccentric people but Vancouver Island is a pretty eccentric place itself so maybe these characters wont seem too eccentric out here.”

WHAT’S ON … Merrick Productions presents The Birth of Weza at Harbour City Theatre, 25 Victoria Rd., from Feb. 27 to 29. Doors at 7 p.m., show at 7:30. Tickets $20, available at Funk Your Fashion and eventbrite.ca.


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