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The cast of Hayride wear inappropriate hayriding clothes.
Courtesy One Yellow Rabbit

Theatre Preview: Hayride

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Many masterpieces were created while under the influence of drink or drug. The newest addition to the One Yellow Rabbit's repertoire, Hayride, promises to be no exception. Concocted by David van Belle and Blake Brooker in the wee morning hours following a celebratory drinking binge in Toronto, Hayride sheds a holy light on Sunday School, an experience many of us share.

"What started out as a satire on Sunday School quickly turned into a reflection on change and transformation by way of a spoof on Christian counselling," says van Belle. "The Sunday school experience doesn't prepare you fully for changes and challenges you encounter later in life."

For many Christians, baptism, Sunday school, confirmation, and marriage all occur in the church. People then go out in the real world thinking they have all the tools they'll ever need, but when they reach adult life they aren't as well equipped as they thought. As van Belle believes, change doesn't just stop because someone's hit a certain age, a reality he had to work with when writing the play.

"The biggest challenge of creating the play was trying to find a pathway through all the information that we [the writers] are still trying to decipher ourselves, from experiences that we are still living in," he confesses.

Although religion is such a hot topic in our daily lives, especially since the events of 9/11, the presence of comedy in the play is lighthearted and shouldn't be seen as religion-bashing.

"Humour allows you the distance to see how something ticks, and to be able to talk about a touchy subject more openly," explains van Belle. "The play isn't mean-spirited; we're not interested in creating a mean satire of Christianity." This is a wise decision on van Belle's part, considering it's been done before. Although audiences may have not-so-fond memories of their Bible lessons in youth, shedding a solely negative light on the experience doesn't convey the whole truth.

In Hayride, the talented Denise Clarke, Michael Green, and Onalea Gilbertson discuss what they did in Sunday school and what it did to them. The characters they play aren't written in stone; rather the actors assume different personas throughout the play.

"There isn't 'crusty churchgoer number one' or anything like that," van Belle explains.

So sit back, take a swig from the chalice and experience a masterpiece in the making. Take a Hayride through the mists of memory and a biblical education of golden calves, plasticine and Bible colouring books. Maybe you'll learn something about yourselves you didn't even know needed to be taught. Amen.

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