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Struck takes audiences on emotional journey of life’s lightning moments

When Eric Rose was 21, he was struck by lightning while camping in Ontario.

The experience, which profoundly changed his life, formed the basis of a 2005 one-act play that he performed during the Solocentric Festival.

Years later, after his father died suddenly while he was in his early 40s, he was once again struck with another profound and life-changing moment.

Struck is returning to the stage as a two-act play at Ghost River Theatre, examining as he puts it, “those big irrevocable moments of change in our lives when there’s a definite before and a definite after, and there’s no going back.”

“The first act really looks at me when I’m when I’m 21, when I was struck, and really examining the implications of that, and trying to understand the physical and psychological thing that had happened,” Rose said.

“Then the second act is really about the second lightning strike in my life, which was the death of my dad, which also made me really look back and examine and try to understand a very similar feeling.”

Actors Nathan Schmidt and Daniel J. Perryman will be playing Rose in the semi-autobiographical production. That’s something Rose said was bizarre for himself and unique for audiences.

“There’s something really beautiful about other people’s expertise and talent helping to tell such an intimate and personal story,” he said.

“Probably one of the largest acts of love that is possible to have, is other people so invested in helping to tell a story that we really, really hope will have an impact for our audience.”

Schmidt said that audiences can expect a different sort of theatre experience, that blends both the biography of Rose with a sense of unreality that the stage can provide.

“We’re seeing Eric’s story through the lens of Dan and I—as the characters anyways—and then through all of the amazing design and projection and sound that all the other artists are doing as well,” he said.

Lighting for the production was designed by Kerem Çetinel, special effects and video design by Wladimiro A. Woyno, set and props by Robin Leveroos, and music and sound composed by Anton deGroot.

Struck is being staged at the West Village Theatre from Jan. 31 to Feb. 11. Tickets are available online at www.ghostrivertheatre.com/struck.

Struck, on stage from Ghost River Theatre from January 31 through February 11 at the West Village Theatre in Calgary. GHOST RIVER THEATRE

A way of connecting with deep meaning coming out of the pandemic

Rose called the hook for the play lightning, but that the heart of the play was those big moments of change that anyone can connect with.

That reconciliation of who a person was before or after big life-changing events is something he said would resonate with audiences.

Especially, said Rose, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic where attendees have all collectively experienced a big life changing event.

“I feel like we’re trying to erase that the pandemic happened, we’re just wanting to get the hell out of it, and that’s a completely valid way of feeling,” he said.

“But at the same time, the things that we ignore often the things that will pop up in ways that we don’t expect in our lives, and then it often gets to that point where we can’t function unless we start to deal with it.”

That sense of not dealing with issues by burying them deep is a large thematic element of the play. It’s something he said he’s thought a lot about for all of the various front-line workers, nurses, doctors, teachers, and everyone else who suffered during the pandemic.

Being present in one’s own life was a message that he hoped audiences would take away from the production, said Schmidt.

“We’re often tossed about by the experience of the world, and that might be as sensational as a lightning strike or as common as losing a family member,” he said.

“Our presence with that moment, and how we integrate that into our lives as opposed to denying that it happens, we have to find a way to integrate it into who we are and our life moving forward. Otherwise, it kind of just hangs out over there.”

Struck, on stage from Ghost River Theatre from January 31 through February 11 at the West Village Theatre in Calgary. GHOST RIVER THEATRE

Cutting-edge visual elements to draw audiences in

The trauma that Rose suffered from the original lightning strike is woven into the narrative both thematically and visually.

Act one uses cutting-edge audio-visual design to truly connect audiences with the experience of being struck by lightning while camping.

“I have this crack team of international designers that I’m working with… it’s like we’re making a live film on stage,” said Rose.

“And the second act, which is really interesting, is really about absence in a kind of void. We take all of that production, we strip it right down, and everything in some way or another comes from this kind of darkness.”

Rose said that there would be a really interesting visual difference in the contrast between the “theatrical language” used in the first and second act.

“There’s 20 years to separate them as well, but there’s something really beautiful and fascinating about that kind of formal examination.”

Schmidt said that he hopes audiences have a chance to marvel at what the production has created for them.

“I hope they come and kind of marvel at what can be done in a room… and the ride that can happen through story and light and sound and projection and the set – all the great things that we’ve got going on in the show,” he said.