Saturday, October 07, 2017

Playing with Fire

Centaur Theatre /49th Season

Persephone Theatre Production
Quebec Premiere
Directed by RON JENKINS
Performed by SHAUN SMYTH

October 3 - 29, 2017

The play is based on the book Playing With Fire by THEO FLEURY & KIRSTIE MCLELLAN DAY.

The play is a remarkable solo, two-hour-long performance by Shaun Smyth who impersonates Theo (Theoren) Freury in his autobiographical onstage narrative. Those who might be seated in the first rows will be especially impressed with the tremendous physical stamina required to play this role. The actor's sweat is as real as his skating skills, and the force he puts into his enactment of Fleury's life is remarkable. You don't have to be a hockey fun or expert to appreciate this play. It speaks directly to the audience, portraying Theo's hockey star career and life turbulences that he so remarkably succeeded to overcome.

Extremely successful on ice, Fleury went through tough knocks in his life: uncaring parents, despicable sexual abuse from the person of trust who was building his future hockey carrier, his later alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling and womanizing. Through all that, playing hockey was central in his life, the anchoring stone of sorts, that brought him through various life perils. He was undeniably a great success on ice, but not in his private life. Nevertheless, he managed to navigated through tough knocks, and later to take them with a grain of salt and even irony as revealed in the play based on his co-authored book.  

Fleury  was one of the smallest professional ice hockey players at his times, only 5' 3" (168 cm) tall, yet he was known for his physical style that often led to altercations. He played for Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers, and Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey league (NHL), Tappara of Finland's SM-liiga, and the Belfast Giants of the UK's Elite Ice Hockey League. He was drafted by the Flames at the 1987 NHL Entry Draft, and played over 1,000 games in the NHL between 1989 and 2003.

The play's set is quite unique - a hockey ring where the actor actually skates. What looks like ice is made of plastic that is refereed to as 'plastic ice'. The skates do not glide as easily on it as on real ice, forcing the actor, Shaun Smyth, to exert an extra effort to make his skating seem effortless. Smyth was not a hockey player and in fact not even an avid scater. All the skating skills and passes one sees on the stage are the result of Theo Fleary's personal coaching. Many gestures and moves are exact copies of Fleury's style.

Although the Persephone Theatre Production had received a number of request to permit other theatre institutions to stage this play, all were refused because it was feared they will not be able to capture the real spirit of the play and portray Theo Fleary and his journey with enough authenticity and or even fineness. 'Finness' might appear as a wrong word since a good number of profanities are used in the play, mirroring the exact manner of Theo's speech, yet the play handles quite delicately the narrative of the sexual abuse that justifies this term.
Set and Lighting Designer - David Fraser
Lighting Director - Dean Cowieson
Projection Video Design - Corwin Ferguson
Sound Designer and Composer - Matthew Skopyk
Costume Designer - Juli Elkiw
Stage Manager - Melanie Rogowski
Assistant Stage Manager - Elyse Quesnel

Click on images to enlarge them.
Hover your mouse over images for description and credits.

For more information, visit the Centaur Theatre website.

Sunday Chat-ups

Sunday Oct. 8 @ 12:30pm
Join Editor in Chief, Lucinda Chodan, in conversation with Playing With Fire playwright, Kirstie McLellan Day.

Saturday Salons

Saturday Oct. 7 & 14
Following the matinee performance.
Get to know Centaur’s new Artistic and Executive Director, Eda Holmes, in casual conversation about this production and all things Centaur.

Both Chat-up and Salons are being held in the Ted T. Katz Family Trust Gallery and are open to public. Complimentary refreshments are offered courtesy of Bonaparte Restaurant.


Oct. 12 (Eve) & Oct. 15 (Matinée)
Following the performance.
 Audiences are invited to stay 
after the show for a lively 
Q&A with actor, Shaun Smyth.

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