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Politics the focus of latest Theatre UNB production

With the most recent provincial election still in the process of wrapping up, politics are on everybody’s mind. If they aren’t, they will be at the conclusion of Live Broadcast, the newest production from Theatre UNB.

Written in 2009 by acclaimed playwright John William Schiffbauer, Live Broadcast is a play that takes a searing look at our modern culture, inspired by celebrities like Mel Gibson and Michael Richards whose personal actions have derailed their careers.

When an up-and-coming conservative actor goes on a Crossfire-esque political talk show, he engages in a war of words with a Democratic congresswoman, exchanging blows on wedge issues from abortion to gay marriage. Clueless celebs, self-important politicians and sensationalistic journalists alike are all satirized mercilessly.

The play’s director, Kayla-Renée Ossachuk, said that the script was chosen because its politics seemed timelier than ever.

“Especially with the election we just had, it’s still on everyone’s mind,” she said. “I kind of wish this had come out before, because I think it might have made people a little more interested in going to the live debates,” she explained.

While the play touches on many hot-button issues, Ossachuk said that it avoids taking a partisan stance.

“It’s pretty balanced for the most part, but you do get to hear both sides of the argument on the issues it touches,” she said. “It’s funny, it’s fast-paced, and it deals a lot with gender issues, which is something that we all agreed was a great thing to present — especially to a student audience.”

Derek Smith, who plays TV pundit Jack Tatum, said his role has been more challenging than he originally thought it was going to be.

“It’s a significantly larger part than any other role I’ve had prior experience with,” he said.

“Kayla and [stage manager] Andrew Martel have both provided great feedback during rehearsals which has definitely helped me figure out my character. It has been a little daunting at times but I feel like everything is coming together.”

For Smith, the contemporary tone of the play sets it apart.

“When you have a show that talks about real social issues, it’s going to get the audience’s attention. These are issues that people have strong opinions about and are still being highly debated. People are going to care about how the characters in the show feel about those issues.”

Ossachuk hopes the topical themes of Live Broadcast will resonate with audiences.

“I think that students should take away the importance of the political process – the importance of getting out and voting,” she said. “One of the big themes is that the decisions that you make in life are so key, one decision can throw your whole career off course. I think that this show demonstrates that.”

Live Broadcast will play at Memorial Hall nightly at 8 p.m. from Nov. 26 to 29.

Tickets: General: $15, Students: $8, Senior/Underwaged: $10

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