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“In A World Created By a Drunken God” explores collaboration and family ties

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 Drew Hayden Taylor’s ‘In A World Created By A Drunken God,” is a pretty special production for New West Theatre for several reasons.

In addition to being the first collaborative effort between New West Theatre and Calgary’s Downstage Theatre company.

Jesse Wheeler and Phil Fulton rehearse. Photo by Richard Amery
 The show will be running for two weeks at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre, Sept. 29-Oct. 8, then move to Calgary for the last two weeks of the run.

It is also a return to New West stage for director Simon Mallet, and a chance for actors Jesse Wheeler and Phil Fulton to work with Mallett again, who previously directed The Attic, the Pearls and Three Fine Girls for New West back in March 2010

The subject matter resonates with actor Jesse Wheeler, who plays a young  half-native man who breaks  up with his girlfriend and is planning to move out of his apartment in Toronto to move back to the northern Ontario reserve he grew up on to live with his mother.

“He’s confronted by his half brother he never knew he had and is told  that the father he never met is dying and needs a kidney transplant,” Wheeler outlined.

“He’s being forced to deal with all of these emotional issues he’s been suppressing. He’s full of pride for his culture, which he  only cursorily  familiar with. He’s got the T-shirts and posters on his walls, but wants to move back home because he’s spent his whole adult life in large urban centres like Toronto and Sudbury. He’s denied his white heritage” he continued.
 He is enjoying playing the conflict his character is facing especially when approached by his estranged brother.

“His brother he has never met comes up to him and forces to make him this major life choice saying  there is a family connection. But family is a hell of a lot more than just sharing a few strands of DNA,” he continued.
“Especially when it depends on a relationship that is non-existent.”
 Wheeler wasn’t familiar with this script, though worked with director Simon Mallett in a play six years ago.
“ He called me up and I read the script and realized what an important story it was to tell. There was a real interesting relationship between two people throughout,” he said adding it was a challenge.


“It’s 130 pages of dialogue between two people and no breaks,” he said adding he is looking forward to  showing everybody’s hard work in front of an audience.

Phil Fulton, who plays Harry Dieter, the American brother from Rhode Island,  took a two year break from acting to earn his education degree, but jumped at the chance to work with old University of Calgary classmate Simon Mallett.
Jesse Wheeler and Phil Fulton rehearse. Photo by Richard Amery
“His father is dying of kidney failure five days ago, he confesses he has another son around the same age as he is with another woman on a hunting trip in the ’80s. He may be the only match,” Fulton said.
“ This is the role of a lifetime. I get to really flex my acting muscles,” he said adding he was impressed with the emotional depth of the role.
“It’s a very short rehearsal.  But you don’t have to memorize it all at once. You read it over and over again and more sinks in each time. But it’s either sink or swim. You take baby steps. Then it will be just Jesse and me  and nobody else can make it work,” he said.

 Director Simon Mallett is enjoying the collaborative aspect of “A  World Created By A Drunken God.”

“ (New West General Manager) Jeremy Mason and I have been looking for a project to work on together, so this was an opportunity for artistic collaboration,” Mallett said.
 They have been rehearsing in Calgary for the past two weeks, then premiere the play in Lethbridge for two weeks, then return to Calgary.

“It’s a play that explores Canadian and American relationships, family relationships and First Nation relationships,” he said.
“It’s been nice to have this artistic input from both theatre companies,” he said.

 “In a World Created by a Drunken God” runs Tuesday through Saturday, Sept. 29-Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. each night, plus matinees  Oct. 1 and Oct. 8 at  1 p.m.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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