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L.A. Beat

New West trying new idea with online reading of Meg Braem’s “Flight Risk”

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As the arts community waits for things to get back to normal in the midst of Covid-19, New West Theatre is trying out a few more new ideas.
 So on Jan. 28, they are hosting a live online  play reading of Calgary based playwright/, former U of L professor Meg  Braem’s “Flight Risk.”

Erica Hunt performing with New West Theatre. Photo by Richard Amery
“It’s an opportunity to engage our audience even though we can’t be on stage until summer when we can be outside again and it puts a spotlight on an Albertan playwright,” said New West Theatre artistic director  Kelly Reay, who will be directing this pilot project.

Local actors including New West Theatre veteran Erica Hunt plus Terry Gunvordahl and Alison Dereght will be reading “Flight Risk,” the story of 99-year-old Second World War veteran Hank Dunfield, who forms an unlikely bond with  22-year-old nursing student/ caregiver Sarah.

“Hank Dunfield is found wandering aimlessly through a field in the early hours of the morning, five kilometres away from his residence at Ponderosa Pine Lodge. Six weeks away from his 100th birthday, the lodge recruits Sarah, a nursing student, to help keep Hank safe, comfortable and in the building while they plan a grand centenarian celebration. There’s one problem…Hank doesn’t want to live that long,” according to New West Theatre.

“I want to emphasize it is not a romantic relationship,” Reay said.

Reay is excited to work with Braem again. He directed her play “Blood A Scientific Romance last February at the University of Lethbridge. He also worked with her on projects in Calgary. Braem taught a play writing course at the U of L approximately 10 years ago.

“Meg calls this play a dramedy,” he said.

“She really explores the relationships  between her characters,” he said adding he appreciates her well constructed dialogue.

Braem is a past playwright-in-residence at Workshop West Playwrights' Theatre and member of the Citadel Playwrights Forum. Her publications include Blood: A Scientific Romance (Playwrights Canada Press, 2013) The Josephine Knot (Playwrights Canada Press, 2018) and co-author with Norah Bowman and Dominique Hui, Feminist Resistance: A Graphic Approach (University of Toronto Press, 2019). Meg was the director of Alberta Theatre Projects’ Playwrights Unit for two years and is a past Lee Playwright-in-Residence at The University of Alberta.

“It isn’t the same as a the play readings we did during the summer because there is no folio and no sound effects,” he said, adding the reading is also a chance to do a little market research.

“It allows us to test what kind of plays our audiences would be interested in seeing,” he continued.
They are still testing the format for the live broadcast, though Reay said it will likely be a Youtube stream.
 Braem and the cast will be participating in an online question and answer session after the broadcast.

New West Theatre’s production of Meg Braem's “Flight risk” is 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 28. For detailed instructions, register to watch the production at

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

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