Calgary’s most avid theatregoer may well be Naheed Nenshi, who also happens to be the city’s mayor. Nenshi has been attending the Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays at Alberta Theatre Projects for about a quarter of a century. Theatre critic J. Kelly Nestruck spoke with the festival veteran to get a second opinion on this year’s crop.
What’s kept you coming back to playRites every year?
One of the things I really love about playRites is just what it is: It’s an ability to see new Canadian work. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not good – and sometimes you’re watching something and you can see the beginnings of something really special. That’s all part of the fun.
Of the plays you saw at playRites this year, which did you like best?
They were all so completely different. The Apology is a more traditional, linear narrative and an interesting story. Dust was a triptych, three different pieces told in a lot of monologue. And, of course, The God that Comes was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. If I had to pick, I’d probably say that one. To see such a talented performer as [Juno-winning musician] Hawksley Workman working in a new kind of way was really interesting for me. It was weird and great performance art.
What’s your favourite playRites show you’ve ever seen?
[Stephen Massicotte’s] Mary’s Wedding was pretty good – a little manipulative, though. I’m going to totally cheap out and say Brad Fraser’s Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love [in 1989].
This interview has been condensed and edited.