Factory Theatre’s 2017–18 season concludes with a farce of a different colour: the Toronto premiere of Prairie Nurse, written by Marie Beath Badian, directed by Sue Miner, and coproduced with Thousand Islands Playhouse.
Set in 1967 Arborfield, Saskatchewan, this manic comedy unravels as two Filipino nurses—Belinda Corpuz (Through the Bamboo, Soulpepper; Hilot Mean Healer, Cahoots) and Isabel Kanaan (Royal Canadian Air Farce, Hey ’90s Kids, You’re Old)—arrive to work at a rural hospital.
Joining Corpuz and Kanaan are theatre vets Layne Coleman (Peace River Country, Tarragon; Freud, Harold Green) and Catherine Fitch (Blyth Festival; Living In Your Car; Slings and Arrows), alongside Mark Crawford (Bed and Breakfast, Centaur/Belfry; The Winter’s Tale & Measure for Measure, Groundling), Matt Shaw (the Diddlin’ Bibbles; King John, Shakespeare BASH’d), and Janelle Hanna (Bad Baby Presents: Rules Control the Fun).
This fictional play about curious locals, sweet romance, and mistaken identity was inspired by Badian’s mother and the legacy she and others with similar experiences contributed to the fabric of Canada.
Prairie Nurse is onstage from April 21 to May 13, with opening on April 26. For tickets or more information, check out the Factory website here.
Fun facts! The cast and creative team tell us about how their mother influenced them as artists.
Marie Anne Lussier
My mother (who is now ninety-one-years-old) was herself a prairie nurse in Saskatchewan in the 1960s, so her influence in this particular play is obvious. But in a broader sense, my mom was an artistic person, and that influenced me. She would try her hand at most anything. Painting, pottery… She even bought an organ at one point and delighted in banging away on it, waking us up very early on Saturday mornings.
Purificacion “Puring” Saberon
My mom introduced me to the arts. I remember looking out the window when I was four years old, singing to myself and creating songs about things I observed, while my mom listened in the background. Next thing I knew, she had enrolled me in piano lessons. And she’ll never let me forget that my first public music performance was singing a duet with her!
When I was a child my mother would labour in the kitchen, on the farm in Saskatchewan, scrubbing and cooking next to the wood stove. She would hum hymns to herself as she worked. My job as her youngest child, the seventh child, was to cheer her up, turn her sad hymns into joyful songs. That is when I became an actor and theatre artist. I always gravitate to the kitchen where I try to entertain the women who are cooking or doing the dishes.
Indepencia “Penny” Uy
My mom is such a big character without meaning to be, and I think that’s what draws people to her. As a kid, I would copy things she would do to get a response from people. I noticed the more detail I put into copying her, the bigger the reaction I would get. I eventually found nuances and expanded to not just copying my mom but other people as well. It started with mannerisms, then I got into their mindset, then their state of being. When I discovered acting and the work that actually goes into it, I found myself at home.
Dr. Miles MacGreggor
I'd say my mom (shout out to Sally!) influenced my work as an artist by showing me the importance of community. Whether it be in her busy career, on our family farm, in my hometown, at church, or with my family, she has always brought people together. I hope I carry this idea forward in my work: that the people around us matter, that our lives are intertwined, and that we ain’t in it alone.
Wilfred “Wilf” Klassen
My mother passed away when I was eleven years old, so this is a question I’ve never asked myself before. At this point in my life I’ve had eleven years with a mother and fifteen years without one, so her memories have had more time to shape and inspire me than she ever had the chance to herself. Her time in my life, her death, and the time after that have all inspired me in many ways, most of which I’m sure I’m not aware of (and would probably have to go to some sort of retreat led by a shaman where you take ayahuasca to fully understand).
Patricia “Patsy” Hackett
My mom doesn’t tend to say a whole lot after seeing plays I’ve been in, but when she really likes an actor or is really moved by their performance, she’ll always say, “Wow Nell, look at the things they can do with their face!” It’s the ultimate compliment from her, and it doesn’t come easily. It took me years to get. But then one day during the run of my first solo show I finally heard “Nell, I just cannot believe the things you can do with your face!” I knew I had finally made it.
My mother never really liked that I was an artist at all. That said, she influenced me in that she was fiercely independent when it came to her own finances, organization, and self-preservation. This has taught me to have boundaries and manage my personal time and work while respecting myself.
Marie Beath Badian
My mom’s career as a nurse was not by choice. She had an obligation, as the eldest of six children, to help support her family. Her limited options were to either become a teacher or a nurse. I once asked her that if she had had the choice, what would she have pursued instead? She said she would have liked to be a chemist, but then she immediately said it was a different time and an impossible option. My mother’s influence on me as artist: her lack of choice became my limitless options.