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Emotional aftermath of soldier's death staged in 'Brothers'

Actor, writer and director Paul Rancourt set to stage play as part of Hydra Performing Arts Festival

A play by a Kamloops veteran and actor/director seeks to tell the story of how the death of a soldier overseas can wreak havoc back here at home.

Brothers is a play written and directed by Paul Rancourt. It will soon to be presented as part of the Hydra Performing Arts Festival being held at Thompson Rivers University.

The audience is never really told who the soldier is or specifically where he died, but it will see the effects of his death trickle down through people close to him — his father, fiancée and best friend.

The source material for the play comes from interviews with those who have experienced the horrors of war — friends and fellow veterans of Rancourt, who served 12 years in the Canadian Army and currently has a son in the military.

The characters he created — played by himself, Kennedy Crane and Nich Gulycz — are composites of a number of people he interviewed.

He created the play to raise awareness of how these soldiers’ service has affected the lives of those around them, and how those who remain can suffer from the lingering effects of combat.

“I’m trying to stay away from the term PTSD in the production, but it is about people dealing with PTSD based on what they call OSI — operational stress injuries,” Rancourt said.

Kennedy Crane
Kennedy Crane plays the fiancée of a fallen soldier in Paul Rancourt's 'Brothers.' - Sean Brady/KTW

Statistics Canada reported in 2013 that about one in six full-time Canadian Forces members reported a major depressive episode, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, alcohol abuse or drug dependence.

Rancourt prefers the term OSI because he says that is where ensuing conditions originate.

“I think in the modern societal vernacular, PTSD can mean just about anything, so the term OSI is more befitting,” he said.

He said with the play, he wants to dispel the myth that seeking help for PTSD is a sign of weakness and help shed the stigma surrounding it.

“The story and the actual emotions the characters go through are things I’m hoping other people can relate to. If they see it, just hearing somebody else speak the words might be just enough of an impetus for them to speak up to a friend or counsellor,” he said.

The play is being presented as part of Hydra Festival, which will run from May 23 to June 1 at Thompson Rivers University’s Black Box Theatre in the Old Main building.

Rancourt plans for the proceeds from the play to go to two groups: Can Praxis, an Alberta program that offers equine therapy to veterans and first responders, and Military Minds, a group raising awareness of services available to veterans.

Like each of the 11 plays on at the performing arts festival, Brothers will have three showtimes. The first is on Sunday, May 26, at noon followed by another on Thursday, May 30, at 9:30 p.m. and finally on Saturday, June 1, at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $15 and available online at