World premiere of Canadian play coming to Kamloops later this month

Western Canada Theatre is gearing up to present the world premiere of Serving Elizabeth.

The topical drama/comedy, by Marcia Johnson, turns popular Netflix television show "The Crown" upside down. She started work on this story after some negative feelings while watching the popular and award-winning show.

“I also wanted to tell the story of how it can happen that our modern-day storytellers and writers can be tone-deaf,” Johnson says.

This production is the first launch of the Canadian-written play. Johnson immigrated to Canada from Jamaica when she was six.

The co-production with Thousand Islands Playhouse takes inspiration from an episode of "The Crown." Johnson presents the British subjects in Africa — relegated to the background in the TV series — as taking the lead in their fight for identity and independence.

Unexpected twists take the audience through the story, bouncing between 1952 Kenya — when an anti-monarchist cook, Mercy (played by Johnson) challenges then Princess Elizabeth (played by Amanda Lisman) before she takes on the royal throne as queen — and 2015 London when Kenyan-Canadian film intern Tia (played by Allison Edward-Crewe) experiences clashes with convention while working on a TV series revolving around the Royals.

The play focuses on the power struggle between people and politics with opposition to imperialism, unconscious bias and mainstream media’s insatiable attraction to the monarchy. 

Serving Elizabeth takes on the political topic of settlers and Johnson hopes to open the eyes of the audience to the biases that mainstream media can take, jeopardizing the stories of those who are underrepresented. 

“Just because you see a certain narrative continually doesn’t actually mean that is the narrative of that country or people. There’s more there and if something sparks your interest, challenge it and do some research,” Edward-Crewe says. 

Johnson is hopeful that the audience will walk away with a refreshed sense of how they take in stories.

“It’s my goal as a playwright to show representation for those who have been underrepresented or marginalized and say those stories are just as interesting and just as valid and they aren’t as other (strange) as you may think,” Johnson says.

Serving Elizabeth is set to run Feb. 20 to 29 at the Sagebrush Theatre.

To find tickets and get more information on Western Canada Theatre’s schedule, click HERE.

Cailyn Mocci is a freelance reporter for KamloopsMatters.com

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