Getting swept up in Canadiana and tales of newcomers

There are some pointed laughs as The New Canadian Curling Club opens this week at the Drayton Festival Theatre

Last updated on Jul 13, 23

Posted on Jul 13, 23

3 min read

Drayton Entertainment’s newest production combines two things that define our country: curling and multiculturalism.

Opening July 13 at the Drayton Festival Theatre, The New Canadian Curling Club tells the story of a small town that organizes a learn-to-curl class for newcomers. Trouble is, the original coach has an accident, forcing icemaker and former curling champion Stuart MacPhail (John Jarvis), who has strong opinions about immigrants, to step in as head coach.

What could possibly go wrong? That’s what the story – and the laughs – are all about.

Joining the team of curling newcomers are Charmaine Bailey (Chiamaka Glory), who came to Canada from Jamaica 18 years ago and is now the manager of the local Tim Hortons, Mike Chang (Norman Yeung), who is of Chinese-Canadian descent and who may become Stuart’s future grandson-in-law, and Anoopjeet Singh (Andrew Prashad), who also works at the Tim Hortons and is looking to build a better life for his family. Rounding out the cast is Zaynna Khalife as Fatima Al-Sayed, who is from Syria and has only been in Canada for a few months while she awaits her missing brother as he attempts to join her half a world away.

Drayton went through a months-long search to find cast members who were tied to the communities their characters represent, said director Jane Spence.

“We are so thrilled with the cast that we got there, they are all so talented and wonderful. It’s a really wonderful cast,” she said.

The production, written by Mark Crawford, perfectly balances humour with the heavy subject matter it covers, Spence added.

“These [are] very beautiful human characters that have great humour, and it allows us to kind of go on the journey and see different aspects of the story through their perspective. And because they’re so relatable, humorous and human, it makes that journey really easy and you do end up laughing so much, but it’s still getting to explore these issues,” she explained.

Spence herself comes from a diverse family, with her father being from Guyuna and her mother hailing from the UK, but even so, directing this cast has still been a learning opportunity, she said.

“It was still interesting actually approaching this text because it makes you very conscious of the subject matter. It’s a great opportunity to, even in rehearsal, kind of give voice to what different cast members’ experiences have been as far as some of the prejudice they may or may not have faced just being diverse Canadians themselves.”

This is an important production given its relevancy to current inclusion initiatives, Spence said. It deals with prejudices that others may have about certain races, including one instance where a character assumes that Chang is good at chess and strategy just because he is from China.

“So even when somebody is assuming, even if it’s something that they think is nice about the culture, it’s still making an assumption about someone based on their skin colour or race or an assumption of who they are. That is where I think people can run into danger,” Spence explained.

While there has been increasing backlash to inclusion initiatives, that just gives even more importance to this production, Spence added.

“Any kind of backlash to being inclusive needs to be examined. The ultimate goal is to be welcoming, simply treat every person as a human.… I don’t think anyone could see this play and make it to the end and still feel like you’d want to exclude any of the people that we just journeyed through this play with”

The Drayton Entertainment production of The New Canadian Curling Club runs July 13-29 at the Drayton Festival Theatre. More information can be found online at

; ; ;

Share on

Post In: