St. Thomas Alumn and established playwright Ryan Griffith is set to premiere his latest production with Theatre New Brunswick, Returning Fire.
Running from Feb. 4 until Feb. 7, Returning Fire is the story of a soldier returning from the war in Afghanistan. While struggling with post-traumatic stress, and the ghosts of war, he travels to Fredericton to reconnect with a close friend from his youth.
However, this play isn’t like anything you’ve seen before.
Returning Fire breaks the conventions of how you experience a typical play. The majority of the production is told through text message, meaning it can be experienced virtually anywhere. You can watch the play unfold in the meal hall, on the bus, or even in the bathtub, if that happens to be your thing. The best part is there’s a secret location revealed during the play. You can then go to the location (somewhere within in the city) and witness the live reunion of the two characters.
“Thomas Morgan Jones at Theatre New Brunswick came up with the idea,” said Griffith. “He wanted to do something that incorporated new technologies.”
The text messages begin at 4 p.m. (10:30 a.m. for the matinée) and span nearly four hours. The secret location, where the physical portion of the play takes place, is revealed through the dialogue in the text messages.
Griffith couldn’t reveal any information about the location, but assured there would be plenty of time to get there.
“Texts are written like abbreviated speech,” said Griffith. “It was a lot of fun to re-create that kind of dialogue. For me, it was as fun to write as a normal play.”
When writing something that will be delivered in such a condensed and fragmented way, it’s really possible to capture and explore the mentality, and emotionality of the characters.
“Even just an ‘lol’ can be huge.” said Griffith.
Ryan Griffith is known for incorporating New Brunswick into his work. His first play Tug which he wrote while still at St. Thomas, was first performed in 1999.
“I’m really interested in creating a New Brunswick mythology,” said Griffith. “I believe that New Brunswick is already full of stories, and that these stories are just as important as any being told around the world. I think part of what I do as a storyteller is illustrate them and bring them to life.”
“I don’t necessarily try to write about one certain person,” said Griffith. “I more work on trying to capture the way of life.”
Griffith also runs The Next Folding Theatre Company in Fredericton. They’re currently working on two upcoming shows scheduled for the end of February and the beginning of March.
Tickets can be purchased online or at The Playhouse with a discount for students.