“It is important to make ‘Bad Roads’ accessible to Canadian audiences while maintaining the integrity of the script’s Ukrainian roots.”
Artist Shauna Thompson is a multi-disciplinary artist. I’ve had the opportunity to catch some of her work on stage.
She opens this month in ‘Bad Roads’ at Crow’s Theatre with quite an extraordinary cast and dedicated crew led by director Andrew Kushnir.
Thompson completed her formal acting training at Montréal’s National Theatre School. She also took as many acting classes as she could fit into her schedule at Guelph University prior to attending the National, but she was not a theatre major. From the Factory Theatre website: “She’s played Romeo in Repercussion Theatre’s ‘Romeo and Juliet: Love is Love; she’s also performed in three seasons at the Shaw (‘Man and Superman’; ‘Victory’; ‘The Devil’s Disciple’ etc.) and has also appeared in several world premiere productions including George F. Walker’s ‘Orphans for the Czar,’ Michael Ross Albert’s ‘Beautiful Renegades’ and Paolo Santalucia’s ‘Prodigal.’ She also appeared in ‘Vierge’ at Factory.
I connected with Shauna via email as she was smack dab into rehearsals for ‘Bad Roads.’
First, she told me she’s excited to be back in the theatre as it feels like coming home. She has made great reconnections with her fellow arts workers and audiences.
When I saw the cast list for ‘Bad Roads,’ I could just sense how much excitement has been building for the production. I had the opportunity to profile Director Andrew Kushnir during the pandemic. Just this past summer, I also saw his ‘Casey and Diana’ at Stratford, which left me bereft of emotion.
I’m expecting ‘Bad Roads’ to do the same.
Shauna feels very lucky to be sharing the space with those involved on the stage and behind the scenes:
“Everyone attached to this production has brought a ton of care, compassion, joy, vulnerability, thoughtfulness, and passion to the rehearsal process. Everything that makes for a great work environment and even better theatre.”
Crow’s Theatre website provides information about this North American premiere: “In the Donbas region of Ukraine, a war is raging, and people want to understand why. Based on astonishing testimonies from the outset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, BAD ROADS explores the heartbreaking effects of conflict on intimate relationships and a country’s social fabric. Ukrainian playwright Natal’ya Vorozhbit deftly intertwines themes of love, sex, trauma, loss, and resistance through powerful and darkly comic episodes exploring, most of all, what it is to be a woman in wartime.”
Thompson hopes that more than anything, audiences are moved by the immediacy of ‘Bad Roads’. It’s not a history or dystopian play. She says of the play: “This is now,” as stories such as the ones depicted in this piece are happening today. From her perspective, she sees Andrew’s vision for the play rooted in the relationships between the characters but with a very focused understanding of Ukrainian culture, language, and history.
She also adds:
“The chosen words in this translated version of the text will always come across differently depending on where and who is involved in the production because how people communicate with one another is influenced by how and where they were raised. So, it was important to make it accessible to Canadian audiences while maintaining the integrity of the show’s Ukrainian roots.”
The show is broken into six episodes that present characters navigating loss, love, old and new varying relationship dynamics, and challenging decision-making, all in the context of an ongoing war in Ukraine. While the play is set and focuses on the war, Thompson says the subject matter stretches beyond those borders, especially today.
She plays three very different characters: a teenage girl, an army medic and a young woman looking to right a wrong before the start of the war. Kushnir’s vision has enhanced her involvement because he continually offered vital insight and knowledge that only someone with a direct connection to both Canada and Ukraine could offer. He has been the vital bridge to both worlds that this production requires. She’s appreciative of this opportunity to present this story. This invitation has allowed her to explore and perform in a way that she feels like she’s contributing to the extension of that vital bridge.
What’s next for Shauna once ‘Bad Roads’ completes its run?
She’ll work on ‘Rockabye’, a co-production between ARC (Actors Repertory Company) and Factory Theatre. Well, another play features an exciting cast and crew led by ARC Artistic Director/Capitol Artistic Director (and director of ‘Rockabye’) Rob Kempson. Stay tuned for more information about ‘Rockabye’, which runs from January 26 to February 11, 2024, at Factory Theatre.
‘Bad Roads’ runs November 10-November 26 at Crow’s Theatre, 345 Carlaw Avenue. For tickets and other information, visit crowtheatre.com.