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Pissy’s Wife is “astonishing”

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Erica Hunt is “astonishing” in  New West Theatre’ s latest production, Marg Szkaluba (Pissy’s Wife). Hunt plays  “hard woman” Marg Szkaluba , a mid-’50s rural wife who gets pregnant in Grade 10 and marries God-fearing “Pissy”  thus entering a world of endless boredom, a vicious cycle of child rearing, making meals, keeping house, watching TV  and beatings as Pissy proves you can be God-fearing” and still not be Godly.Kathy Zaborsky and Erica Hunt. Photo by Richard Amery
 She approaches her challenges with aplomb and dignity and a lot of dark wit.
Marg tries to escape her boredom and “be astonished”  through reading women’s magazines and making new recipes until she falls in with a group of women her own age who sing in the woods thanks to a  “saint” from the bakery named Jessie.
What makes Erica Hunt astonishing is not only that she had to learn to play guitar in two weeks (much of Marg’s story is told through her songs), but had to learn all of the lines in the play. She completely envelopes and embodies the character of Marg so you feel her pain, every “cuff”, every emotion, every regret, every lost opportunity, every experience and every emotion she’s feeling.
The smoke filled stage is designed  like a country bar replete with wooden tables and green table cloths. There is even a bar for those who want to have a drink with Marg during the show.
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Marg Szkaluba has a fiery spirit with New West

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Erica Hunt plays the “Pepper Shaker SongÚ Photo By Richard AmeryLethbridge actress Erica Hunt excels at playing quirky, brash, in your face characters, which is why she’s looking forward to starring in New West Theatre’s new one woman show,  Marg Szkaluba (Pissy’s Wife), premiering Thursday at the Sterndale Bennett Theatre.
“It’s a really exciting play because it has a really powerful story,” said director Lindsey Zess-Funk.
“It’s a one woman show about a woman in her late 40s who gets up the courage to  make her life her own. She escapes a bad marriage and becomes a country singer,” she continued.
“Marg sings her songs and tells the story of her life and what brought her to this point. There’s humour  and lots of drama. Emotionally it’s all over the map,” she said.
“Erica Hunt is the performer and she’s a force to be reckoned with,” she enthused.
“It takes place in a country bar, so bring money for drinks,” Hunt laughed.
“She takes a terrible situation and while she doesn’t make it work but she’s a tough woman and she’s got a fiery spirit. I connect with that fiery spirit,” Hunt said.
“She’s sharing her stories and singing her songs. Some of them are light hearted and others are pretty  harsh,” Hunt continued.
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Fort Macleod prepares for massive film festival

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The Empress Theatre in conjunction with the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and  CinemaImagine are preparing for their first of what they hope will become an annual film festival, Oct. 15-17 in Fort Macleod.
With the help of a Rural Alberta Development grant, organizers have collected seven professionally produced films including some which have played at the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes , France, as well as 14 shorts from all over Southern Alberta, Medicine Hat, Winnipeg and even two French language films from Quebec.
“It’s sort of a mix of  regular film festival  shows which are professionally produced and also showcases more independent films, ” explained Colin McCarthy, one of the festival organizers, adding there is still time to submit shorts before the Sept. 28 deadline.David Cronenberg
 “There’s no  specific genre requirement as long as it’s some sort of a film, not just something shot on a cell phone of a friend doing something. It’s got to be more than just a 10 second clip.Though an entire story shot on a cell phone would be pretty cool,” McCarthy added. The shorts will be judged by the audience  to close off the festival, at 7:30, Oct. 17. The best one receives a $500 honorarium.
“We haven’t seen any of them (the shorts) yet. We’re waiting to see them as a group,” McCarthy enthused adding each individual or group can submit up to three films under 90 minutes each in a DVD format along with the names of the director, producer and contact information.
The film festival opens at  7 p.m., Oct. 15 with “To Each His Own Cinema (Chacun Son Cinema)” which is a collection of 34 short films  first shown at the Cannes film festival by 36 acclaimed directors including David Cronenberg, David Lynch and Gus van Sandt.
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Playing the part of history in the Shadow of the Bridge

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I was part of history this week by taking part in the In the Shadow of the Bridge Festival, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the high level bridge, Sept. 5.
 In addition to taking in some excellent entertainment, I got to get back into acting as a wandering character coal miner and newspaper editor for the Allied Arts Council’s special program.
 I’ve done a fair amount of acting in  other places and I’ve been an extra in a couple movies like Legends of the Fall, but there is  a definite high one gets from actually performing live.  It was a lot of fun walking around the grounds  and meeting some of the people  and telling them my story based on a brief outline submitted to us by the Allied Arts Council who had organized the event really well.
  I spent the past couple weeks researching coal mining circa 1909, and found a couple factual errors in our dossier and had to improvise around them,  for example my coal miner  named George Nilesen was supposed to have worked for  the North Western Coal and Navigation  Company, but moved out here in 1904  for a better life and more money with  his wife Evelyn and two children. However the Northwestern Coal  had been amalgamated into the Alberta Railway and Coal Company by Elliott Galt by then. My “wife” played by New West Theatre’s Kathy Zaborsky got together beforehand to co-ordinate our story. We decided the neighbours were taking care of our kids while we enjoyed a day out, and that our company owned miner’s shack was located right on the plains next to Fort Whoop Up, and my mine was right down the hill from the grounds, next to Whoop Up Drive. We also decided our ambition was to own a ranch closer to the mountains and out of the wind because mining was too dangerous and we didn’t want our kids growing up in the mines, like I did back in Nova Scotia. We had a good day, we rode the miniature steam train doing a circuit around the grounds and even went for a horse and cart ride, which put me into the pioneer mindset while giving me an appreciation for  the comfort of an automobile.
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