Lighthouse-commissioned play Hurry Hard wins national comedy award

Kristen Da Silva holds the Hurry Hard script on the first day of rehearsals at Lighthouse.

Hurry Hard by Kristen Da Silva has been named the best new comedy in Canada.

The curling comedy was commissioned through Lighthouse Festival Theatre’s playwright development program and had its world premiere this summer at Lighthouse in a production directed by Sarah Phillips and starring Bruce Davies, Susie Burnett, James Hawksley, Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski, and Daniela Vlaskalic.

Da Silva’s script about sibling rivalry and finding new love – set against the background of a hotly contested regional bonspiel – won over Lighthouse audiences and the judges of the Tom Hendry Awards, handed out in Toronto last week by the Playwrights Guild of Canada.

Hurry Hard took home the Stage West Award for best new comedy, which has Da Silva feeling excited and thankful.

“I’m very grateful to the Playwrights Guild, Stage West and the Pechet family for recognizing comedy as an art form and for championing the development of new Canadian works in this genre,” Da Silva said.

“This play was commissioned by Lighthouse Festival Theatre. Lighthouse invested in it in all of the ways there is to invest in a play. (Artistic director) Derek Ritschel had full belief in the play from the beginning and continued to believe in it even when I struggled during its creation. During the long process of development, Lighthouse provided not only financial support but also artistic collaboration, through workshops and access to professional actors and directors, each of whom had a hand in shaping the play. The end result is the product of the talent of many artists, all of whom were assembled by Lighthouse.”

Fostering Canadian talent is at the core of Lighthouse’s mission, said Ritschel.

“Lighthouse couldn’t be happier for Kristen. Supporting Canadian playwrights is hands down what Lighthouse Theatre is about,” he said.

“There is so much talent out there and they sometimes need a small push or a helping hand to flourish. We are so thrilled that Hurry Hard will be seen by many more audiences for years and years to come. What an absolute joy for us.”

Da Silva is quickly making a name for herself on the national theatre scene, with six published comedies to date. Lighthouse stagedFive Alarm – set at a country fair’s chili cookoff – in 2017 and next year will produce Sugar Road, described as a romantic comedy with a country twang.

Da Silva says initiatives like Lighthouse’s playwright development program are crucial to sustaining a healthy Canadian theatre industry.
“When organizations invest in Canadian writers – through their time, their resources, their expertise and their financial support – they’re doing more than just saying that Canadian content matters, they’re powering its generation,” she said.

“With arts funding being cut across the country, this matters now more than ever.”