Wednesday, April 18, 2018



Factory and Thousand Islands Playhouse co-production 

Love is blind in Saskatchewan – so blind in fact you can get confused with whom you are in love.  Prairie Nurse is riotous comedic farce of a different colour about two Filipino nurses who arrive in 1960s small-town Saskatchewan to work at a local hospital and are met by some curious locals who struggle to tell them apart.


With [FACTORY THEATRE'S] closing production landing on Mother’s Day, it’s beyond appropriate that Marie Beath Badian's mother inspired the play itself; where two Filipino nurses land in rural Saskatchewan and are constantly mistaken for one another. Marie’s mother was a nurse, though not by choice. Marie said her mother had an obligation as the oldest of sic children to help support her family. Marie had once asked her mother if she had the choice, what would she have become; she said she would be a chemist. 
When asked why audiences need to see Prairie Nurse, Marie Beath said If you have ever had health care in this country, it is 95% likely that at least one medical professional that you encountered was Filipino. There is a reason for that. This is a teeny-tiny sliver of Canadian history, told through the lens of a spicy but sweet mistaken-identity Romantic Comedy.” *

*Marie Beath Badian


Marie Beath Badian's favourite playwrights include from Anna Chatterton and Lisa Codrington. In her new play she creates addresses the experiences of Filipino nurses working in rural Saskatchewan. PRAIRIE NURSE, inspired in part by her mother's research visit to Saskatchewan in 2007, she conceived the play with a mistaken identity plot line in mind - a technique that she finds "inherently nostalgic." Infused with a desire to "* embrace that fully with romance" PRAIRIE NURSE speaks of a 
* "community of Filipino nurses across the country [that] is strong, vibrant and heroic."
* Marie Beath Radian

1/ What influenced your decision to use romantic comedy as a theatrical device? 

In 2007, I had been commissioned to write a play for the Blyth Festival. I knew I wanted to write a play inspired by my mother’s time in rural Saskatchewan in the late 60s but I wasn’t sure of the story. I brought my mother with me in 2007 to Saskatchewan to do research, and everyone we encountered who remembered her immediately asked “Where’s the other one?” I was tickled by the idea of a mistaken-identity comedy. The inspiration for the play is inherently nostalgic, so I wanted to embrace that fully with romance. 

2/ Do you have some favourite playwrights? 
Yes! Anna Chatterton and Lisa Codrington are two of my faves. 
3/ Could you describe the role of race in the play (if you feel this applies) - and without giving away any of the plot - can you share some of the issues the women characters deal with throughout the course of the play. 
I like to think that the play is a snapshot of a little-known piece of Canadiana. The late sixties and early seventies were the first wave of Filipino medical professionals in Canada, because it was the beginning of Universal Health Care. Filipino nurses and other trained professionals arrived by droves across the country to serve in both urban and rural communities. It was certainly isolating and challenging. But it was also a time of independence, adventure and a new kind of freedom. Those communities were curious and welcoming; they really needed the nurses and they made every effort to make them feel embraced when they arrived. 
4/ Prairie Nurse is such a great title; does the setting, rural Saskatchewan, relate to other parts of Canada (both rural and urban) and the presence of many Filipino nurses working across the country. Do you see the overall narrative of the play as something many Canadians can relate to and/or learn from? 
Thanks! I like the title too. 
I hope that the play resonates with many Canadians. I think that if you experience health care in Canada, then 8 times out of 10 I think you encounter a Filipino medical professional. I wanted to show the nurses are more than just their profession – they have different reasons for being in Canada, different stories, different dreams. 
I ask these questions partly because I have a family member who is from Cebu City and has worked as a nurse in Calgary for many years. Her professional struggles have been an influence on the ways in which I view some of the issues she, and many other women from the Philippines, encounter when working in Canada. 
The community of Filipino nurses across the country is strong, vibrant and heroic. 
4/ What do you hope audiences will take from the play - both as entertainment and as a significant social commentary? 

Yes, both would be a dreamy outcome. 


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