After a few years hiatus, Larrikin Entertainment is staging their first production since 2019. The Resurrectionists was written by Calgary-based Meg Braem, who visited the Yukon during the play’s production. Larrikin artistic executive producer Katherine McCallum is excited to be spearheading the dark comedy’s world premiere in the Yukon.
The play is a period piece set in mid-19th century Kingston, Ontario. The main character, Magda, is determined to be a doctor, and goes to great lengths to remove the barriers that stand in her way. It’s described as a “darkly humourous gothic tale of tragic romance and anatomical ambition.”
Braem got the idea of writing the play after attending a history of medicine conference where a student presented a paper on grave-robbing at Queens University in Kingston. Medical students once engaged in body snatching so they could carry out studies in anatomy.
“I thought man, this would make such a fun play,” Braem says.
Braem then read of a dark time in the university’s past when women were not allowed to enrol in medicine, then permitted for a short time, then disallowed again. She decided to combine the two ideas to write a humourous play that reflects on how the culture of death and the ethics of medicine evolve to reflect the values of the time.
Magda is the character who drives the play, Braem says. The character was also a big factor in why McCallum committed to producing the play even before it was finished.
“The Resurrectionists really struck me because the character of Magda is so strong and determined and funny,’ says McCallum.
Magda is also part of what drew director Brian Dooley to the play. He worked with Braem as a dramaturg during the development of The Resurrectionists. He has great confidence and trust in her as a playwright.
“This is a love story,” he says, “But it’s also a story about a woman being empowered, empowering herself through her curiosity, her passions, and her desire to learn on an equal footing with men.”
The production of The Resurrectionists was delayed for 10 months or so due to COVID-19. Now that it’s underway, everyone involved appreciates the relative freedom of rehearsing in the Yukon. The cast is able to move freely in the rehearsal room without masks.
“We’re excited, the actors are just beside themselves,” says McCallum.
“I couldn’t get over having a normal rehearsal process,” Braem says. “Part of me was like, ‘this is a light in the midst of a long, dark time.’”
Most of the cast and crew are Yukoners, and both McCallum and Dooley rave about the local talent.
“What really excites me about producing theatre the most is putting a team together where you don’t have to produce much,” McCallum says of the cast and crew.
“I found an enormous generosity and sensitivity from everyone involved, the actors and production people,” Dooley says. “They’ve been open and responsive, they’ve brought their talent and skills to this and everyone gets along. There’s a great spirit of collaboration within the room which is what I try to instill.”
In addition to an eight-day run in Whitehorse, the play will also be staged at the Globe Theatre in Atlin, the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture Ballroom in Dawson, the St Elias Convention Centre in Haines Junction, and the Recreation Centre in Watson Lake.
“I think I might actually be certifiable,” McCallum says of the idea to take such a large cast and crew on the road.
However, McCallum feels it’s important to share the production in communities beyond Whitehorse. She reasons that Larrikin Entertainment received a fair amount of public funding so she’d like to reach a broader audience.
“I do think the communities deserve to see some of the spoils of what we are blessed with,” she reasons. “We get lots of money to make awesome stuff happen.”
Braem and McCallum both express gratitude for the opportunity to premiere The Resurrectionists in the Yukon.
“I’m beside myself with relief and excitement,” McCallum says, “I just feel lucky – super lucky — that we can do this.”
“It’s the best,” Braem affirms. “Now I feel like all new work should be premiered in the Yukon.”
Tickets for Yukon Arts Centre performances are available at yukontickets.ca. For dates and tickets of the tour performances visit The Resurrectionists event page on Facebook or the Larrikin Entertainment website.