Guild Theatre presenting play Roomies, about living with disability

Roomies, a new play that looks at what it's like to live with a disability, is playing at the Guild on Saturday.

Moncton actor/playwright used his own experiences for many scenes

The play Roomies is set on a college campus in 1968, where a Joe Cool character becomes roommates with a clean-cut student with a disability. (hubcitytheatre.com)

A new play coming to the Guild in Charlottetown Saturday is showing audiences what it's like to live with a disability.

Roomies is a coming-of-age story with a difference, and a message.

The play is set in 1968, and features two unlikely university roommates: David, a clean cut scholarly student living with a disability and Nick, the big man on campus who only thinks of himself.

It was written by, and stars Paul Power, the artistic director of Hub City Theatre in Moncton, N.B., who also lives with a disability.

"It's definitely an odd-couple pairing, and their personalities do clash," Power told Angela Walker of Mainstreet P.E.I. "We've been doing this now for almost a year on and off, so we've got to be able to go to a lot of different places and provinces. We're thrilled to be coming to P.E.I. and yeah, the reaction's been great."

Paul Power, the artistic director of Hub City Theatre in Moncton, wrote and co-stars in Roomies. (hubcitytheatre.com)
Power wanted to write the play after doing some research about disabled theatre roles in Canada.

"I realized there was a lot of great stuff happening in the west, and Ontario and all that, but I couldn't find a lot happening in Atlantic Canada," he said. "One of the main purposes as well was making the commitment to tour around the four Atlantic Canadian provinces."

The play features Power's character explaining what it's like to be disabled, and how people look and think of you as being different.

Much of that comes out in his interaction with his roommate Nick, who he describes as mean.

The play centres around the relationship between the young disabled student, and his roommate who thinks only of himself. (hubcitytheatre.com)
"There's definitely a few monologues in there that came from my life, from my personal feelings and experiences," said Power. "Especially if you have a physical disability, that makes it very identifiable."

He said writing and acting in the play has been a healing process for him, and for some audience members as well.

"What really makes it worthwhile is that people who come to the play and have a disability, and have never seen their story told in a way on stage, they come up to me and our other cast members after, and thank us for doing it, and how much they enjoyed the show," Power said.

Hub City Theatre's play Roomies is at the Guild in Charlottetown on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 8 p.m.

From the Mainstreet P.E.I. interview by Angela Walker