Glory 'a dream come true' for creator

It wasn't planned but the timing for the premiere of Glory is perfect, its author said.

Tracey Power said having her play about what may be the greatest women's hockey team ever open at Sagebrush Theatre during the current Winter Olympic Games is something she hoped for, "a dream come true."

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The story of the Preston Rivulettes, who ruled the ice in Ontario for a decade in the 1930s, runs from Feb. 22 to March 3.

Its genesis came when Power was vacationing in Canmore and happened upon an album of old Canadian photographs, including one of the Rivulettes, a team that came together when a group of women who had been playing baseball together looked for a winter sport to a take up, if the legend around the team is to be believed.

The story goes someone listening in as the women talked about creating a hockey team mocked them -- and they rose to the challenge. In the decade the women played, they lost two and tied three of the 350 games in which they competed.

They won their provincial championship and Eastern Canadian championships every year and were named Canadian champions six times.

Through it all, they played for free and had to scramble to get practice time on the ice.

Morgan Yamada plays Nellie Ranscombe, one of four women who are the focus of Power's play. She echoed Power's delight the Olympics -- which sees eight countries sending female teams to the games in South Korea -- provide a current background to what the Preston women faced.

"It's only during the Olympics that we seem to acknowledge our female athletes," Yamada said.

"Women are still fighting for that kind of recognition."

The play is a co-production with Alberta Theatre Projects and three of the five-character cast come from there. One of the cast has her own unique link to hockey, being part of a family that boasts a former NHLer known best as the Rocket. Maurice Richard played 18 seasons for the Montreal Canadiens and was the first NHL player to score 50 goals in a season.

The seven game scenes are scripted uniquely, choreographed alongside music from the era the Rivulettes ruled. Power, who designed the dances, said her vision was to capture the look of a hockey game -- from stopping a goal to a high stick to the face -- that would capture the energy of a real game but also celebrate some of the music from the 1930s.

That posed its own challenge for Yamada, who is decked out for much of the game in old-fashioned, heavy goalie pads. She's confident at the end of the run she will have powerhouse legs from the physicality involved.

"It gives me a little notch on the pole," she said, "that I can dance with these pads on."

Power's script, which she spent the past four years developing, aims to stay true to the reality the Rivulettes faced at every game.

"The rules were the same as the men," she said, "so if someone showed up and wanted to fight, that was part of their game. And they did this with no masks, no helmets, wearing pads.

"It was rough and tough and I tried to capture that in the movements."

Backstories of the women are also key to the story. Yamada said her character struggled as the bread winner of the family and being a female hockey player when it wasn't considered particularly ladylike. There was stress with her sister Hilda (played by Katie Ryerson), sibling rivalry the Schmuck sisters Kate Dion Richard as Helen and Gili Roskies as Marm Schmuck) also shared. Kevin Corey is team coach Herb Fach.

Yamada described the women as Being "out of their time" as they set records and won trophies in a sport viewed to be for men only.

As for her debut on the Sagebrush Theatre stage, Yamada said working with Western Canada Theatre has been "a dream. I feel so welcome. It feels like another home, just fantastic."

Tickets for Glory are at the Kamloops Live box office, 1025 Lorne St., 250-374-5483, kamloopslive.ca.

© Kamloops This Week

 


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