Theatre Outré continues to push the boundaries with their new production, the Curing Room running Feb. 27-March 3 in the basement of Ten Thousand Villages instead of their usual home in Club Didi.
“It‘s Incredibly powerful. It explores humanity at it’s basest,” said Jay Whitehead, who performs in the story of seven Russian soldiers captured in Poland during the Second World War and kept in the basement of a monastery.
“It’s based on real life events. It’s about seven Soviet soldiers who are captured and are locked naked in the basement of a monastery. So we’re nude for the entirety of the play. But, not to spoil anything, not all of them make it out,” said Whitehead, who noted they decided to move the play to the new location to better fit the characters’ situations.
“It’s quite exposing,” Whitehead added, observing the Curing Room has been a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
“It becomes quite gruesome by the end to say the least. It’s visceral and impactful. But it’s also humourous in places,” he said, noting it is definitely not a family friendly show.
Gail Hanrahan directs the 90-120 minute long 2011 play penned by New York based actor/ playwright David Ian Lee. It features Whitehead, Graham Mothersill, Stuart MacDougall, Marek Czuma, Grayson Ogle, AJ Baragar and Connor Christmas.
Whitehead has worked with all of the actors except Stuart MacDougall either at the university or with Theatre Outré.
Whitehead said Theatre Outré chose to perform the Curing Room for a couple of reasons.
“As an actor, the biggest challenge is not just being naked, but putting myself in these situations,” he said.
“It’s part of our ‘stripped down’ series, which explores nudity and cultural hangups about it. And we always wanted to partner with Theatre BSMNT in Calgary and this play suited both our mandates,” he said. After they are finished the Lethbridge run, they will take the play to Calgary.
“It’s also the North American premiere of the play, though is performed in Europe,” he added.
Deonie Hudson is creating all of the gore for the play.
“It’s the biggest show we‘ve ever done. It’s our most ambitious project to date,” Whitehead said.
The Curing Room is the Centrepiece of the 15th annual Pretty, Witty and Gay festival, a week of gay themed events.
It begins with “Panti Raid,” dance at Club Didi on Feb. 24. Deez Nutz, a gay themed improvisational comedy show in the next day on Feb. 25.
The event ends with the Pretty, Witty, and Cabaret on March 4 at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre.
“It is an evening of drag, live music, poetry and dance. All with queer themes,” Whitehead said.
“It’s been going for 15 years, which is hard to believe. I was an undergrad when it started as the cabaret. it has since grown,” Whitehead said.
Tickets for a Curing Room cost $20. The show begins at 8 p.m. each night.