Featuring both Tim Hortons and simulated curling onstage, the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre play being performed throughout the province during the company’s regional tour this month could hardly be any more Canadian.
The New Canadian Curling Club tells the story of a fictional Canadian town whose curling club tries to diversify its membership by introducing the game to newcomers to Canada. Unfortunately, the person intending to spearhead the program suffers an injury and the task of teaching the new Canadians how to curl falls in the lap of her cranky racist ex-husband.
“It’s about fish out of water and learning to understand each other and hilarity ensues as these newcomers try to learn to curl and the cranky old guy is cranky,” says actor Omar Alex Khan, who plays the role of Anoopjeet Singh, an Indian immigrant who is passed over for an assistant manager’s position after seven years working at Tim Hortons and is learning to curl alongside his boss.
“He’s got some struggle in his life during this play, as all the characters do,” says Khan.”I think that’s actually where the comedy comes from is the real-life struggles and how these people deal with it.”
The tour kicked off in Neepawa Jan. 7 and hits stages in Thompson, Snow Lake and Flin Flon Jan. 9-11 and will be performed in 17 more communities in Manitoba and Ontario before wrapping up Feb. 6.
Much of the humour springs from cultural misunderstandings, says Khan, who appeared in the play the first time it was performed in Blythe, Ontario, but is himself a native Winnipegger.
“A lot of the laughs you’ll catch yourself laughing and then you’ll go, ‘Wait a sec, maybe I’m not supposed to laugh at that because it seems wrong that I’m laughing at that but it’s still really funny,’” Khan says.
And despite featuring Canada’s second-favourite ice sport and people who work at its most famous coffee shop, the play reflects Canada’s diversity as well.
“There’s a Syrian character and an Indian character and a Jamaican character and a Chinese-Canadian and a Caucasian-Canadian of Scottish heritage all on the stage at the same time and I think that’s a pretty good representation of who we have living in Canada right now,” says Khan, for whom this tour will be his first time in both Thompson and in Flin Flon.
“The farthest north in Manitoba I have been is Snow Lake and I was only in Snow Lake for a couple of hours so it’s very exciting to me to go to all these places that I’ve never been,” he said.
Returning to familiar territory in the form of the play is also a new experience for Khan.
“That was one of the draws was to be able to come back and revisit it again and maybe find out something that I didn’t learn the first time and add that to the performance.”
The New Canadian Curling Club hits the Letkeman Theatre stage at 7:30 p.m. Jan 9. tickets can be obtained by calling the Thompson Regional Community Centre at 204-677-7952.