Universal issues such as losing an elderly parent and the ramifications to the family are something to which many people can relate. They’re also prime material for a local playwright whose work will be staged next month by Floradale Mennonite Church.
The church will be presenting a dinner theatre show, Family Ties Through Thick and Thin: The Story of a Family Losing the Older Generation, with proceeds from the free-will offering going towards Woolwich Community Services and Global Church Sharing Fund of Mennonite World Conference.
Over the last 11 years, the church has presented three original plays every three years with local themes, each having a dinner offered before the evening performances.
Playwright Barb Draper had previously drawn on local experiences for inspiration, and this effort is no different.
After a chance encounter, she found out that families often struggle when settling their parents’ estates. From that, came the idea for a play about the challenges a family can have when the older generation passes away.
The production follows a family of four children who have just lost their 89 year-old father, showing how each copes with the loss. Though the subject matter is serious, the play is intended to have more than a few humorous moments for the audience to enjoy.
“It has to do with a father passing away. There are three daughters and a son that have to deal with his death. There is always family dynamics, and every child deals with it differently,” explained Rita Bauman, who is producing the play as well as acting as the spouse of one of the children.
Bauman noted that with the age of the father, meaning elder children, is not only the dynamic at play. There are also the relationships with older grandchildren, making the story one that people of many demographics can relate to.
This is Draper’s fourth play for the group, following productions of What Shall we do with the Family Farm?, Those Shoes of Peace and Mom, It’s Time to Sell the House. The writer will also be acting as one of the leads in the play, as well as directing.
“She is very talented,” said Bauman of Draper.
Although some of the cast members have been in each of the plays, there are always some fresh faces for the audience as well. Playing the four children of the Snyder family are Sherri Martin-Carmen, Mary Frey Martin, Roy Draper and Barb Draper.
Not only does the dinner theatre provide an outing, but it’s also for a good cause. This year’s free-will offering from the performance will go to Woolwich Community Services as well as the Global Church Sharing Fund of Mennonite World Conference.
“We wanted to do something local and something abroad,” explained Bauman, noting that between everyone involved these were their top recipients.
Family Ties through Thick and Thin: The Story of a Family Losing the Older Generation will be running April 13-15 at Floradale Mennonite Church. Dinner theatre tickets are available for Friday and Saturday evenings, with a matinee performance Sunday at 2:30 p.m. While a free-will offering will be taken for the play, there is a $20 charge for dinner for those wanting that option. Those tickets are available in advance by calling Marj at 519-669-2861 or Nancy at 519-669-8176.