Hard times in the Maritimes

A New Brunswick tale dealing with the clash between urban and rural will be docking at the Black Box Theatre.

Theatre New Brunswick is premiering their English debut of The Net, a Tragedy of the Sea. The gripping script written by award-winning playwright Marcel-Romain Thériault, held its debut in Northern New Brunswick in Acadian French, native home and tongue to Thériault.

This is a story of three generations of an Acadian family. Anthime, the aging patriarch; Leo, the second son; and Etienne the grandson who has bailed for the big city buzz.

“This show is very much about family, growing pains and the future,” said director Pamela Halstead.”We find a way for the audience to empathize with every one of these characters because at the end of the day, they’re all just trying to be true to what they want.”

In the Maritimes, the fish industry is in hard hurting times. The mandate of traditions orders Anthime to pass on his prized crab boat to his first-born son. Problem is his first-born died, so Anthime is seeking out his grandson who has no interest in fishing, to carry on the family tradition. However, Uncle Leo has been running this operation for years and shows no signs of stepping aside and watching his dynasty wash away.

These family tensions echo the social tensions which resonate so loudly along Maritime shores.

The Net was partially inspired by the fishing riots which occurred in Shippagan, N.B. in 2003. Furious by a federal attempt to re-distribute crab fishery quotas, a swarm of more than 200 fishermen wreaked havoc on the small town—torching boats and warehouses.

The play touches close to home for Bernie Henry, who plays Leo. Henry is a French-Acadian who grew up in northern New Brunswick.

“I know the place where this play takes place. I’ve met those people. I lived amongst and come from those roots,” said Henry.

However, like any good piece of theatre, there are universal themes which can be interpreted and reinterpreted from different perspectives. This is Michael Chaisson’s second performance as Anthime. He played the role first with the Ship’s Company in Peterborough, N.S.

“If there was only one way to ever do a play then it would be done once and that would be it, there would be nothing left to look at,” said Chaisson. “You rediscover and find different things and Pam has done a marvelous job of helping me to make sure I don’t rehash an old character.”

Chaisson and Henry are long time professionals, but The Net marks STU graduate Jake Martin’s speaking debut with TNB. Martin is playing Etienne and is eager to return to the Black Box.

“The intimacy of this play and being able to do it in the Black Box is exactly appropriate,” said Chaisson. “To be able to do that in a circle that we have drawn together allows us to go into that space feeling as if we are family—we’ve got problems, but we are family and we will pull together as a family.”

The Net will run  in the Black Box from Feb. 26- Mar. 1. Showtimes are  7:30 p.m. with a matinee on Sat. at 2 p.m.

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