In four weeks, Western Canada Theatre brings me out to Kamloops, BC and rehearsals for the world premiere of The Man Who Shot Chance Delaney, an affectionate, mostly comic tribute to those sprawling western sagas as told by Hollywood. Playwright Ian Weir, perhaps best known for his television work but whose creations range from stage to radio to film as well, is apparently rewriting even now, potentially enfeebling my current memorizing of lines.
I get to portray a handful of colourful characters, among them a travelling salesman, a sadistic gunslinger, a newspaper editor, and a small town mayor. The script seems great fun and I know of at least one terrific actor with whom I’ll get to share the stage. I met Naomi Wright a year ago at a party but finally saw her awe-inspiring work just last week as a guest performer with the amazing improv group Impromptu Splendor. She, too, and the rest of the cast, will play a variety of denizens from the saloon and into the sunset.
Set in Texas, New Mexico, and Kansas, the story spans the years 1855 to 1907. In a minor turn of the century coincidence, Ah, Wilderness!, for which I begin rehearsing at a different theatre three weeks after Chance Delaney closes, is set in 1906, albeit in Connecticut.
I may even get to wear a bowler hat in both plays.