Finding both the House and Home, by BRITTANY REID - Western Canada Theatre

From antiquity to present day, storytellers have worked to re-create the kinetic, lively, and performative character of sport. Whether trying to capture the spirit of victory or the pain of defeat, authors from every period and every culture have attempted to convey what distinguishes sport as significant to their lives. These sport stories have traditionally taken the form of literary works, such as Richard Wagamese’s Indian Horse, or non-fiction texts, such as Theoren Fleury’s Playing with Fire. But in recent years, dramatists have become increasingly interested in telling sport stories and using the theatre to re-create their material realities onstage. These sport dramas employ the theatre’s immediacy and physicality to tell compelling sport stories and allow audiences to become immersed in the sights, sounds, and sensations of a live sporting event. For this reason, sport dramas have become an emerging and exciting theatrical genre, including such varied examples as Sarah Delappe’s The Wolves, Tomson Highway’s Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing, and Tracey Power’s GLORY, which debuted at Western Canada Theatre in 2018.

With The New Canadian Curling Club, Mark Crawford adds another compelling entry to the growing catalogue of contemporary sport dramas. Like those playwrights before him, Crawford uses his play to communicate something greater about sports and their broader cultural or personal significance. What distinguishes this sport drama is that it uses curling to explore what it means to be Canadian today. Curling offers many opportunities for compelling storytelling, especially in a Canadian context. The oldest sport club in North America is a Canadian curling club (The Royal Montreal Curling Club), and these cultural institutions have been the site of community building for more than two centuries. Crawford uses the curling rink, an emblematic gathering place in Canada, to bring together individuals with different nationalities, identities, and worldviews, thus reconsidering what it means to be a modern Canadian.

The familiar setting of small-town Canada in winter serves as the backdrop for this sport drama, but the inclusion of a diverse cast of characters gives an innovative twist to the classic underdog story. Brought together through their shared experience of sport, the members of the New Canadian Curling Club negotiate different linguistic, national, or generational barriers to establish a sense of unity, regardless of their perceived cultural differences. In The New Canadian Curling Club, sport is not perfect, nor are the individuals that participate in it. What curling does offer is the opportunity for this group of new and established Canadians to find both the house and a home.

Dr. Brittany Reid
Lecturer, Department of English and Modern Languages
Thompson Rivers University