Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons opened last night to a standing ovation brought on by a lot of laughter and a story that touched people in that sweet spot that brings a tear or two.
I had the privilege of sharing the preshow dinner with Ray and Brenda Shultz, local farmers and long-timer supporters of Rosebud Centre of the Arts; and Jack Hayden, the Minister of Agriculture for the Province of Alberta. The conversation was wonderful, crossing between the subject of new opportunities in agriculture and a lively discussion about the magic of live performance. Ray Shultz is a gifted musician as well as farmer. Brenda has a heart for the importance of story in people’s lives. Jack Hayden loves the theatre and live music.
So, I asked him why he loved live theatre. His response (and I’m paraphrasing) was that there is nothing like a live performer putting it out there on the stage. The energy is infectious. We went on to talk about great musicians we’d seen in concert - Neil Young, Van Morrison, and others. And we came back to the magic on the stage in Rosebud - the conversation driven in large part by the Agriculture Minister’s passion.
And then we watched the play, each in our own worlds, alone, yet together. That’s the magic that happens when the lights go down and a story is lived out in front of you. It’s a marvelous coming together of people of all aspirations and professions. It makes a person believe the world can really work together if held by some kind of common story.
Jack Hayden told us at dinner that he once had a conversation with W. O. Mitchell in an airport line-up. He said W.O. was a real gentlemen.
W. O. Mitchell loved the theatre as well. He gathered people of all stripes around stories that were in some way common to all of them. Jake and the Kid: Prairie Seasons has gathered us all together to hear his voice again - the wise-cracking and cantankerous gentleman who reached out and touched the whole of this country through words on the page, on the stage, and on the CBC.
It was a good night.