Who is Stephen Harper?
Years from now we might be able to rattle off his policies, what he accomplished for Canada, and the majority of answers to Stephen Harper Jeopardy questions. Hell, if we really know our prime minister, we might even get the Daily Double right.
But how much do we really know about Stephen Harper the man?
Ian Simms, a fourth-year acting specialist in the Phoenix, plans to fill the gaps in our knowledge with his new play, The Stephen Harper Play.
Simms’ contribution to this half of the SATCo season constitutes his foray into playwriting. Although he’s an actor by trade, Simms says he felt compelled to tell a story about our prime minister: “We don’t really know what he’s like as a human, because we only know him as a politician.” Simms goes on to say that our perception of politics through the media is abstract—partially because that’s the way it has to be. Politicians are hard to relate to because they have to be relatable to everyone, and therefore they appear as images of ideal people and nothing like real people.
I guess the goal of the show, says Simms, is to turn Stephen Harper—an esoteric figure—into somebody human and tangible with flaws and emotions and motives. One of those flaws is Harper’s crazed adoration for Nickelback, which during the play leads him to prorogue parliament in order to see them in concert.
It’s safe to say that this play won’t be exactly biographical. Simms laughs when discussing the Harper he created: “The character isn’t factual, but the scandals he’s involved in are. But sure, those have been tailored too.”
A careful choice of words, considering Simms turned Canada’s most Arctic-minded prime minister into a cad whose real motive behind Arctic sovereignty is to guard and protect the porn he cached there. However, during one of Harper’s annual Arctic tours, he discovers that he isn’t the only politician burying his porn in snow: namely, Vladimir Putin, whom Harper ends up boxing.
Simms also transmogrifies the robocall scandal, which started as an isolated set of calls misdirecting voters, into a call that sends Laureen Harper to the wrong restaurant and winds Stephen Harper in the doghouse for the night.
“I wanted this play to be as out-there as possible, ridiculous without ridiculing the characters,” says Simms. Then he smirks and shares a secret: also, in the play, Vladimir Putin (who will be played by a woman) is latently gay.
While it may not aid us in becoming the next Ken Jennings, The Stephen Harper Play promises to reacquaint its audience with Simms’ outrageous fictional Stephen Harper over the media’s gauzy representation of our prime minister.
The Stephen Harper Play
Written/ Directed by Ian Simms
Jan. 22, 23, 24 @ UVic’s Phoenix Building
Suggested donation of $4