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Power, politics and Farrragut North

Blank Slate Theatre stages award-winning play at Millennium Place



Farragut North is a play about power. It's a play about politics and ambition and what people will do, or not do, to get to the head of the pack.

It's also the basis for The Ides of March, starring Ryan Gosling and George Clooney, who also directed, and was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Oscars. But where the film felt stretched thin at times, the play — which will be presented by Blank Slate Theatre at Millennium Place on Saturday — is more succinct, up to its explosive conclusion.

"If people have seen the movie, it's definitely not going to be the same story," says Lilli Clark, co-founder of Blank Slate and co-producer of the play, "and if they haven't then its even better because it will be more interesting when they watch the Ides of March afterward."

The play, written by Beau Willimon and loosely based on the 2004 Democratic primary campaign of Howard Dean, follows two days the in the life of Stephen Bellamy (played by Alexander McMorran) the young, aggressive press secretary for Governor Morris in his bid to run for president. Clark plays Aida Horowitz, a New York Times political reporter. The title refers to a Washington, D.C. subway station located nearest the district's centre for lobbyists, think tanks and advocacy groups.

"Yes, this play takes place in the political arena, which is so topical right now...with what's going on in the States, but you can take this story and these themes out of the political world and place them anywhere," Clark says.

Blank Slate was started in 2009 specifically to bring theatre to Whistler. They staged Problem Child at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre that year, followed by another play in 2010. They took a hiatus in 2011 and are returning with this political drama, in time for the 2012 U.S. election.

"It's so relevant to what's going on (in the U.S.) and it sheds some interesting light on what's happening and what's about to happen," Clark says.

Clark, who worked for Watermark Inc. producing the arts events for the World Ski & Snowboard Festival, and who has been involved in theatre for much of her life, wanted to see more live theatre in town to at least provide an opportunity for a theatre scene to grow.

The first step, she says, is to provide the opportunity.

"You just have to create an appetite for it and it just needs to be done consistently, just like the World Ski and Snowboard Festival, Crankworx and Deep Winter and all the arts events that happen in Whistler," she says. "Eventually you'll get the momentum going and people will come. I mean that's my hope. Then again, maybe Whistler just isn't interested."

Since its inception, Blank Slate has expanded its mandate to stage shows in Vancouver as well as Whistler. It will do a two-week run of Farragut North, from May 15 – 26, at Havana in Vancouver.

The Whistler Arts Council has co-produced the Whistler show. Tickets are $21.20. The play is not suitable for children under 16.

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