For Calgary native Rebecca Northan, this year’s edition of the Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays represents coming full circle as a playwright. Legend has It, a production created and directed by Northan, will have its world premiere at playRites. But this is not Northan’s first involvement with the festival.
While in Grade 10, Northan was involved in a version of playRites designed for high school students. During her final year of university, she took part in the main playRites Festival. “If I could go back in time to my Grade 10 self and say, ‘You know what? Twenty years from now you are going to have your own show at the festival,’ I don’t know that I would have believed myself,” Northan says.
The concept for Legend has It developed out of Blind Date, a one-woman, improv play that Northan has performed across Canada and the U.S. for the past five years. In Blind Date, Northan selects a male audience member and takes him on a 90-minute long “date” onstage.
As in Blind Date, an audience member will be invited onstage to perform in Legend has It — but there will be twist. Edmonton-based actor Mark Meer, a member of the Legend has It cast, says the production is a “merging” of Blind Date and Dungeons and Dragons. “Rather than the audience member going on a date, they will be going on an adventure and doing things like overcoming monsters and deciphering riddles,” Meer says.
While participation of an audience member is key to the production, Northan says the cast will not select anybody who’s uncomfortable with being onstage. “We are not dragging people up there against their will,” Northan says. “What we are doing is inviting someone to be our guest.”
She says the cast will also ensure that the experience is an enjoyable one for audience members willing to take part. “We want them to have a fun, unique and a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Northan says. “It’s not an experience at their expense. It’s a celebration.”
Unlike Blind Date, which is geared towards an adult audience, Northan says that the flexible nature of Legend has It will allow it to appeal to a family audience. “We can change the tone of the show depending on who is on the audience,” Northan says. “Because it’s a fantasy genre, I think that kids nine years old and up would have a really good time.”
Legend Has It runs from March 6 – April 5 as part of the ENBRIDGE playRites festival with Alberta Theatre Projects located at the Martha Cohen Theatre, 220 – 9 Ave. SE.
By Karry Taylor