Sherri Wade, front left, comforts a distraught Mary Littlejohn as Jim Maher, back left, and Ben Francis look on during rehearsal for Western Edge Theatre’s latest production ‘The Scottish Curse,’ written by Sean Enns and directed by Tamara McCarthy. (Mandy Moraes/News Bulletin)

Sherri Wade, front left, comforts a distraught Mary Littlejohn as Jim Maher, back left, and Ben Francis look on during rehearsal for Western Edge Theatre’s latest production ‘The Scottish Curse,’ written by Sean Enns and directed by Tamara McCarthy. (Mandy Moraes/News Bulletin)

Western Edge Theatre’s latest production aims to challenge audience’s superstitions

‘The Scottish Curse’ will run Feb. 3-12 at the OV Arts Centre in Nanaimo

Western Edge Theatre’s second production of its 2022-23 season almost didn’t happen, quite possibly due to Macbethian bad luck.

Sean Enns, writer of The Scottish Curse, said his Shakespeare-inspired folk-horror has already seen its fair share of misfortune before the stage curtains have even lifted, including family-related deaths and injuries for the cast and crew, a chipped tooth during rehearsal, and almost not having a venue.

But, according to Enns, the show must go on.

The Scottish Curse, considered a “play-within-a-play,” follows Andy, “a writer at the end of his rope who will do anything for a final shot at fame, including conjuring powers he may not comprehend.”

The character of Andy will be played by Ben Francis, Greg will be played by Jim Maher, Isla by Mary Littlejohn and Shannon by Sherri Wade.

Considering and playing with the supernatural is not a new path for Enns. His first production, Dispossessed, hit the stage in February 2019 as a one-act play about a girl who becomes possessed by a fashion-conscious demon and their struggle to see who comes out on top.

“Everything I write has roots in myth and legend because of how we name things. We name things like depression, we name anxiety, we name disabilities – these are just names for things. And 1,000 years ago we had different names for things, and those names were Satan, or Zeus … I like taking these old myths and legends and lore and bringing them into contemporary settings and using them as devices just to think about things in different ways.”

As a horror fan, the play’s writer considers The Scottish Curse a traditional folk-horror in the sense that it leans on mythological influences, and is also Shakespeare-inspired.

The idea for the four-cast play initially stemmed from Enns’s uncertainty about the revival of live theatre during the pandemic.

“I thought it would be interesting to stage a show where nobody came because they were terrified due to superstitions – I think more people are superstitious than they admit…” he said. “I write so I can understand the world around me. As a neurodivergent person, the world doesn’t often make a lot of sense … So, this is about me understanding my relationship with theatre and my relationship with superstition and challenging the audience to think about that stuff, too.”

According to a release for the show, Enns came to theatre later in life as a means of coping with mental health challenges including depression, anxiety, and an ADHD diagnosis he received at 45 years old.

“People with disabilities are overrepresented in the arts,” Enns said in the release. “We don’t talk about it enough. We need to talk about it more. We need better health resources, better support, and more accessible spaces.”

Enns, who is also producing Western Edge Theatre’s New Waves Festival this year, intends to provide ample opportunities to discuss disability in the arts.

The Scottish Curse will open at the OV Arts Centre, 25 Victoria Rd., on Feb. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Ticket and showtime information can be found online at www.westernedge.org.

READ MORE: Grieving family gets unexpected gift in Western Edge Theatre’s ‘emotional’ season opener


mandy.moraes@nanaimobulletin.com

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