Estuary features big set, big issues

An estuary is a body of water where a river's current meets and mixes with the sea. For acclaimed playwright and drama professor, Ron Chambers, his latest work, Estuary, features a troupe of colourful characters' lives that mixes, turns upside down and ultimately joins beneath the roof of a fantastic frat house. Playing Mar. 19-23 at 8 p.m. nightly on the University Theatre stage, Estuary bends the rules of reality and captures the imaginations of its audiences.

Within the walls of an old Victorian house, a series of individual stories stretch the boundaries between reality and the dream world.

"This play is about defining reality," says Chambers. "The characters interact in a setting where there is no fixed reality, where there are questions about what is real or what is imaginary."

Set designer and U of L alumnus Roger Schultz (BFA '89) created an immense set to capture the essence of the play's themes.

"Estuary deals with a big idea, and the size of the set supports that," says Schultz.

Estuary plays Mar. 19-23 in the University Theatre.

A fully-fashioned two-story Victorian house has been constructed for the production where the complex relationships of the characters play out.

"I took my cues from the premise of the script, blending reality and dreams, containing elements that are fragmented or odd," he says.

For 20 years, Chambers has taught playwriting in the Department of Theatre and Dramatic Arts. Seven of his plays have been professionally produced across Canada, the United States and in Hong Kong. He has won the Alberta Culture Playwriting Award, the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award (Writer's Guild of Alberta) and has been nominated for both the Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award and Betty Mitchell Award for best new play.

As both playwright and director for Estuary, Chambers has appreciated the flexibilities of bringing the script to life onstage.

"I wrote Estuary as a big play, with a big cast and a big set," explains Chambers. "Often, the plays I write must be restricted to a limited cast size and to accommodate small sets, but this play is an exception. I also wrote this for students, to allow them to be themselves and play characters that are their ages, dealing with subject matter relevant to their own lives."

Tickets for this final production of the Mainstage Theatre season are available at the University Box Office (Monday through Friday, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., or by calling 403-329-2616). Individual tickets are priced at $15 regular, $10 seniors and students. Regular tickets are also available online,