Local playwright brings you behind the front lines in Afghanistan

Based on the experiences of a Kelowna doctor, this Kelowna-written play tackles the issues faced by those on the front lines

Three actors, a minimal set and a camouflage background set the stage for a new provocative play that tackles life behind the front lines in Afghanistan and the impact it has on those who serve.

Written by Kelowna playwright Sean Harris Oliver, The Fighting Season tells the story of three Canadian medical personnel in the Kandahar Air Field during the Afghan War.

The play is based on the experiences of his own father’s service overseas, Kelowna’s Dr. Jack Oliver.

The playwright first shared the script with director Stephen Jefferys while it was already playing to sold-out crowds in Vancouver. He wanted to see it performed on a local stage and Jefferys wanted to make that happen.

“When I first read it I got chills. This subject is still relevant, it is about how war changes people, how war changes people in the medical community in particular,” said Jefferys.

“I think it is an exciting theatrical experience. It is a combination of stories from the present and delving into the past so the audience gets to see a play of the imagination.

The three-person cast is made up of Graham Daley, who plays field medic Kristy; Anita Reimer, who plays ICU nurse Karine; and Don Plant, who plays orthopaedic surgeon Terry.

“They were all affected by it, they were changed by it,” said Jefferys.

The story weaves each character’s memories and present emotions together to bring a brutal but sometimes beautiful story to life.

“I really liked the idea of working on a script that was written by a local playwright and taking place in Afghanistan during the war,” said Plant.

This is the first time he has had the opportunity as an actor to meet the person his character is based on.

“It has been a thrill just to meet him,” said Plant.

“It brings home what Canada’s role is outside of our shores. It is an exciting play based on real life history which appeals to me as a former reporter. It is a thrill to be doing such a gritty show about something Canada has been so active in, in the news, over the last 10-20 years.”

Anita Reimer is anglophone actor who doesn’t speak any french and yet plays a francophone nurse who struggles with providing medical care for a terrorist that she knows killed her comrades.

“It is provocative. It is bringing up questions that are real,” said Reimer.

“I think it is an important piece for creating awareness about what all of our service people go through and how they served our country and served Afghanistan. It is powerful. I also really wanted the challenge of the French-Canadian accent.”

Dr. Oliver volunteered for the Canadian Armed Forces as a surgeon for four weeks at the Kandahar Air Field in 2008 and recently said “this whole [play] is a conceivable scenario—it didn’t happen, but it’s conceivable”.

The Fighting Season runs May 16-19 at the Creekside Theatre in Winfield and May 21 at The Powerhouse Theatre in Vernon.

The Fighting Season is also Theatre Kelowna Society’s entry into this year’s Ozone Festival.

Related: Festival highlights Okanagan theatre

Tickets for the Winfield shows can be purchased online here or for more information, click here.

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