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Calgary actors hope curling fans ‘hurry hard’ to take in onstage bonspiel

This is one very big week for curling fans in Calgary.

Along with all the excitement at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, fans will also be taking in some fun fictional curling.

Alberta Theatre Projects (ATP) is preparing to open its new production of The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon, a dark comedy featuring onstage curling.

“It’s written by W.O. Mitchell, a great western Canadian playwright,” director Christian Goutsis said. “So it’s a love letter to western Canada and a love letter to curling.”

Actor Kevin Corey is playing the title character.

“The story’s set in 1936 in a town called Wild Rose, Alberta,” Corey said. “And they’re big into curling.”

Real ice wasn’t an option, so ATP crew members had to get creative in fashioning a surface on which the actors could curl.

“It’s a big strip of linoleum, with soap and water added,” Corey said.

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The curling rocks had to be modified to improve their slide along the stage.

“There’s teflon on the bottom of the rocks, so they get extra slide,” actor Emily Howard said. “We need all the help we can get.”

The actors got some tips from a veteran curling coach as they hit the ice at a Calgary rink.

“We might’ve all had a little fall on our butts at one point,” Corey said.

For some of the actors, it was their first time trying the sport.

“I hadn’t done any curling before this, but I didn’t do that bad,” Howard said. “I think it’s a new hobby that I’m going to have to start after this.”

The actors hit the stage for the first performance of The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon on Feb. 20, with the run continuing until March 10.

Part of that period coincides with the arrival of some of Canada’s top curlers in Calgary, competing at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.

“We’re hoping that curling fans will hurry hard to the theatre to see themselves reflected onstage,” Goutsis said.

The annual Canadian women’s curling championship goes at Winsport from Feb. 16 to Feb. 25.

“I hope curling fans will enjoy the inside curling jokes,” Corey said. “And maybe enjoy our struggles on the rink.”

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