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Stage North plays the political outsider

Theatre group gets up to satirical theatrics in return to the stage with Paul Slade Smith's 'The Outsider'
Stage North actors rehearse a scene from the political satire, 'The Outsider'.

A nincompoop named Ned Newley — is that too long for a hashtag?

So muses Arthur Vance, a political consultant and character in the theatrical satire The Outsider, which takes to the stage tonight at the North Peace Cultural Centre.

Written by Paul Slade Smith and presented by Stage North, the comedy follows newly-minted Governor Ned Newley (played by Warren Craig), a bumbling oaf unexpectedly tasked with running the government when the previous Gov gets caught up in a sex scandal.

With chief of staff Dave Riley (played by Blair Scott) and Arthur Vance (played by Kevin Smith) by Newley’s side, the trio hatch a plan to keep unpopular Ned, with his lack of skill and personality, in office.

“Ned being not so great with people, probably the worst in that political field of celebrity-ship, gets on TV to be sworn in to his office. That doesn’t go so well and the state is no longer satisfied with their new governor,” says Kaymia Laurine, the show’s director.

“So they have to come up with a plan to keep him in office, a harebrained idea of theatrics pandering to the people wanting a celebrity instead of someone who can actually run the government,” she says.

“Typically we think of the people that we want to run being somebody like us, but we don’t know how to run the entire government. Most of us don’t even know everything it does anymore.”

Laurine, a first-time director, planned to stage the show in spring 2020 for the local zone theatre festival, but COVID-19 and the pandemic had other plans.

The seven-person cast is rounded out by Paige Johnson (as screwball secretary Lulu Peakes), Jeryn Mackey (as pollster Paige Caldwell), and Stevi MacGillivray and Steve Hunter as the TV reporting duo of Rachel Parsons and A.C. Peterson.

Laurine says she wanted her first play to have a manageable sized cast and story material she felt confident with. The comedy she found with The Outsider fit the bill.

“I read through a lot of different plays and at the time I remember there were a lot of different political things happening, different elections,” she says.

“I remember thinking, this is dumb. I cannot believe this is what we fall for these days, the way that politicians have turned into a celebrity instead of what they’re supposed to be, which is people who do a job and they do it for all of us.

“Reading a play that said that and also made me laugh struck a chord," she says.

The Outsider runs Nov. 17, 18, and 19 at the North Peace Cultural Centre. Show time is 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are available at the NPCC box office, or on the cultural centre website.

Stage North actors rehearse a scene from the political satire, 'The Outsider'. (Matt Preprost Photo)
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