Arts Theatre

The Invention of Romance takes aim at the heart


Edmonton not only stages a wide array of theatre productions, we develop them here, too.

For evidence, look no further than Workshop West’s new production, Conni Massing’s The Invention of Romance. The script landed in the hands of director Tracy Carroll back in 2011, while working as dramaturg with Massing in helping to edit, revise and sometimes completely rewrite the script. Various incarnations have made appearances at workshops and emerging-work festivals around town for the past few years, notably the 2012 Springboards New Play Festival.

“The inspiration for the show is [Massing’s] own mother, who rekindled a relationship and ended up getting married in her late ’70s,” Carroll explains.

The script juxtaposes this story with that of Kate, a curator at a museum who has built a show called the Invention of Romance, which delves into all the trappings, history and clichés of love and romance. But while Kate may have a solid academic understanding of the subject, unlike her mother she is decidedly unsuccessful in her own personal romantic endeavours.

“We’ve been having great conversations in rehearsals about romance and love and how we met our partners and so on,” Carroll says. “And then some of the relationships that went sideways and that kind of thing. It’s stirred up a lot of conversations, so hopefully that will happen with the audience as well.”

Aside from the pursuit of the perfect relationship, The Invention of Romance should also be a good vehicle for exposing a host of incongruities and outright contradictions in the way we view romantic love, especially at older ages—getting married after retirement isn’t a common topic on stage (or anywhere else, really).

“One thing that her mother says is that love can be ordinary,” Carroll says. “I won’t speak for anyone else, but for me it’s true—I think what I’ve discovered is those ordinary little things, those day-to-day things in life, teach us patience and kindness and thoughtfulness—and that is true romance. That’s true love.”

Fri, Mar 28 – Sun, Apr 13 (8 pm; Sundays at 2 pm)
Directed by Tracy Carroll
La Cité Francophone, $11 – $28

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