An immigration story with a healthy dose of laughter

An immigration story with a healthy dose of laughter

Prairie Theatre Exchange opens its 2018/2019 season with Prairie Nurse – a story of welcoming that is part farce, part romantic comedy and part cultural history. Running from October 3 to 21, Prairie Nurse, is playwright Marie Beath Badian’s love letter to her own mother’s immigration story.

Penny and Puring arrive in small town Saskatchewan from the Philippines in 1967 to answer Canada’s call for nurses, taking on two-year contracts at the local hospital. Small town life is far from simple as cultural clashes, homesickness, and the amorous but dim-witted goalie from the local hockey team complicate the women’s lives.

On the surface, this is a farcical romantic comedy based on the mistaken identity of two Filipina nurses. But it’s also a time capsule that allows us to open up a specific period in Canadian history – “Expo ‘67: Canada Welcomes the World”.

And as we reflect on today’s political and cultural climates, it’s also a perfect time to consider that welcoming newcomers though often imperfect in its execution – wasn’t always so difficult.

“The play really takes place in this moment,” says director Ardith Boxall. “Even with the colonial associations that the centennial now holds for us as Canadians as we try to work through our history, it is a remarkable time capsule to open up – an era of change and hopefulness, of learning and welcoming people from around the world. And that story belongs to many Canadian citizens.”

After its premiere at the Blyth Festival, Prairie Nurse has taken the stage at three more Canadian theatres before making its home at PTE.

“What accounts for its amazing trajectory so far is its glowing sense of humour and heart alongside its urgency,” says PTE Artistic Director Thomas Morgan Jones. “This play is so many things: it is an immigration story; it is a Filipina story; it is a story of transformation; it is a story about what it means to make a home; and it is an absolutely brilliant comedy.”

Prairie Nurse stars actors Dutchess Cayetano as Puring, Pamela Halstead as Marie Anne, Kristian Jordan as Wilf, Rayna Masterson as Patsy, Ross McMillan as Miles, Robb Paterson as Charlie and Stephanie Sy as Penny. The creative team features Director Ardith Boxall, Set & Costume Designer Brian Perchaluk, Lighting Designer Hugh Conacher, Sound Designer jaymez, Stage Manager Leslie Watson and Assistant Stage Manager Ali Fulmyk.

Tickets for Prairie Nurse are on sale now. For ticket information and show times, visit the PTE Box Office on the 3rd Floor of Portage Place, call 204-942-5483, or visit

Photos by Star Roxas | Filipino Journal