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Living True Takes Guts

Late, A Cowboy Song gives a deeper look at human relations

Theatre Preview by Janine Eva Trotta (From GayCalgary® Magazine, March 2014, page 14)
Living True Takes Guts: Late, A Cowboy Song gives a deeper look at human relations
Living True Takes Guts: Late, A Cowboy Song gives a deeper look at human relations
Living True Takes Guts: Late, A Cowboy Song gives a deeper look at human relations

Male or female. Gay or straight. Married or single. So often life forces us to check ourselves into tiny, defined boxes that leave little space to wiggle or explore.

Late, A Cowboy Song is celebrated playwright Sarah Ruhl’s brave dabble into the rather uncharted world of undefined human connection.

Back in collaboration for the first time since This is How I Left, director Alyssa Bradac and assistant director Jonathan Brower with Third Street Theatre are taking this "strange little play" to audiences in Calgary. Late runs March 12th to March 22nd at the Epcor Centre for the Performing Arts Motel venue.

"I read Late for the first time during the summer of 2011 ... and, at the time, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it," says Bradac, a seasoned thespian and director for the past six to seven years. "But I never forgot it. It sort of stuck in my memory, and kept tugging."

The director tried proposing it as one of five candidates for her thesis project in graduate school but it was rejected. When Third Street asked her to propose projects for its second season it was the first play that came to mind.

"I think the aspect that latched onto me the most in the play is the notion that we have no real definitive or descriptive words to communicate connection," she says. "We have plenty of words for relationships, but none for the actual attraction/inspiration to have a relationship in the first place."

"And I think we’re quite quick to leap to relationships and definitions," she continues. "We don’t often let ourselves be complex and ambiguous with the actual connection – whether it’s a feeling or a look or a phrase or something quite profound to who we are. I think it’s a really important aspect of our humanity that we ignore and take for granted all the time."

Brower agrees.

"This play is about the ambiguity of love and the idea that because of societal expectation in our lives – in people’s lives – that we are often prone to make one choice about who we love and sort of stay with that and not allow ourselves to really grow...without any labels," he says. "I think we’re so quick to label everything ...and choose those things ...and feel like we’re stuck in those labels and that we can’t go back."

Brower would know this conflict better than most. He spent the greater portion of his adult years struggling between his identity as an Evangelical Christian and as a homosexual. It was always said to him that he couldn’t be both.

"Labels have been important to me to understand where I was at but having other people label me was never helpful," he explains. "We really do need [labels] to decipher what’s what, but at the same time they can be so limiting."

Is it fair that we classify ourselves assuming we always will feel or be that way – assuming we are all stoic beings?

"Who knows?" Brower answers. "We change and we fall in love all the time... I know that things shift."

Bradac says though it would be easy to turn this play into a standard woman leaves man for woman plot, she doesn’t see it that way.

"That’s not what the play is about for me at all. For me, it’s a story about a woman who takes charge of her own life through both a positive and negative presence. That’s the story I’ve set out to direct – that’s the story we’re telling."

Bradac is extremely enthused to be a part of a Queer Theatre company in Calgary; a company she says is receiving an unprecedented response from its patrons.

"It’s a rare and special thing to be part of a company that is responding to a community demand," she says. Likewise, it is a rare and special thing to be directing a work that responds to so many unspoken questions.

"This play is so incredibly human," Bradac states. "Everyone will see someone they know up on stage: family members, former lovers, current lovers, friends. And certainly the idea that connection can be a scary thing, but it will awaken such dramatic change and ownership in our lives."

"It’s better to be afraid and to get up on the horse – if you will¬ – than to live life from the safety of one’s living room," she continues. "The very act of being alive is an act of bravery, if only we embraced ourselves to the fullest extent possible."

Bradac says Late is a work that teaches us that living authentically and proactively will always bring one to the right course.

"Living takes guts," she says. "But we’re only living when we seize the courage to be who we are, doing what we’re doing, with the people we want to be with. It’s that simple, and that arduous."

Late offers shows nighty at 7:30pm as well as three matinee performances March 16th, 17th and 22nd. Tickets are $20-$25 and can be purchased through the Epcore Centre at


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