A Refreshing Connection of Hilarity and Corruption

The rehearsal space looks generic with its black floors and black curtains covering a wall of mirrors. With costumes absent and only a scattering of furniture to emulate the stage setting, it’s hard to envision how the Guild Society’s production of Born Yesterday will play out on the Yukon Arts Centre stage until March 29.

But after talking with the cast, it is evident there’s a lot to be taken in by the actors and audience alike.

For the talent, it’s a chance to stretch their acting muscles. Moira Sauer takes on the role of the obnoxiously innocent showgirl, Billie Dawn.

“It’s definitely not like any role I’ve ever had the opportunity to play,” says Sauer. “And probably not one that I would get to play.

“That’s one of the Yukon things. It’s not a role that a director would look at me and go ‘Ooh… you’re gonna be perfect’ because it’s a far reach, but I’m having a great time with it.”

The play pairs Dawn with junk dealer Harry Brock – a corrupt tycoon with a passion for bribing politicians in Washington, D.C. When her ignorance threatens Brock’s business dealings, he hires a journalist to educate her. But as her knowledge grows, so does her understanding about Brock’s conniving ways.

Aaron Nelken plays Brock. He, too, says it’s an unusual casting.

“I’m normally cast in more light and fluffy roles. So getting in touch with my anger for this role has been a bit of a challenge,” he says. “It’s been quite an adventure so far.”

Nelken was a professional actor on the West Coast, but is new to Yukon community theatre. Since moving here, he’s moved away from acting, but says he couldn’t pass up a chance to work with director Mort Ransen.

B.C.-based Ransen is a Genie award winning film director, who is now indulging in theatre. He calls Born Yesterday “an extraordinary play”.

Working with Ransen is a highlight for all cast members. Victoria-based actor Trevor Hinton plays Paul Verrall, the journalist hired to educate Billie Dawn. He has worked with Ransen before, but as fellow actors.

“I appreciate the way he thinks and the way he looks at things,” he says, “so it was just an opportunity for us to work together in a different way.”

In turn, Sauer says it’s great to work with some unfamiliar faces.

“Any opportunity to work with fine artists from Outside is always an exciting thing. It’ll make it that much more enjoyable, too, for a Whitehorse audience,” she says of the eclectic cast.

Eric Epstein, artistic director of The Guild and also playing the Senator in the production, says ultimately the play will be something the audience can connect with.

“It’s a comedy, but it’s got a lot of edge. It’s got issues, it’s got drama in it – so it’s a very involving play and I think the audience will find that there’s a strong appeal to some of the characters,” he says.

And Ransen says he hopes the audience gives some thought to that modern-day correlation.

“We’re very smug in Canada. We look at places like Iraq and other places around the world and talk about the corruption in those governments, but we forget that we haven’t really solved that problem,” he says.

“Laughter is a good way to make you look at things and I’m hoping people just look at the whole issue again.”

The play runs to March 29 at the Yukon Arts Centre. Tickets are available at the Yukon Arts Centre Box Office and Arts Underground.

PHOTO: MORGAN WHIBLEY [email protected]

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