Saskatoon theatre production documents death of Colten Boushie, trial of Gerald Stanley

Reasonable Doubt debuts Wednesday at Saskatoon's Persephone Theatre. The creators consulted the family of Colten Boushie and friends of Gerald Stanley when producing the play.

Play's creators facilitate discussion following performance to help audience debrief

Lancelot Knight composed the music for Reasonable Doubt, based on interviews collected by co-creator Joel Bernbaum. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

A new Persephone Theatre production tackles one of the most controversial events in recent Saskatchewan history.

Reasonable Doubt examines Indigenous, non-Indigenous and newcomer relations through the lens of Colten Boushie's 2016 death and the resulting trial of Gerald Stanley.

The creators attempt to showcase every side of the story in the production.

"The piece actually started four years ago, long before anyone knew the names Colten Boushie and Gerald Stanley," said co-creator Joel Bernbaum.

All of a sudden people started speaking from a heart space and it was a new, kind of raw honesty.- Playwright Joel Bernbaum

The play was originally supposed to be written from interviews with people across the province on the far-reaching topic of relations between different groups.

Then Saskatchewan was rocked by Boushie's death.

"All of a sudden people starting speaking from a heart space and it was a new kind of raw honesty," Bernbaum said.

'They are part of our community'

Bernbaum began working with director Yvette Nolan and musician Lancelot Knight, who composed and performs the music of Reasonable Doubt.

Each left their own mark on the play, but they could only imagine the perspective of those closest to the tragedy. They invited the Boushie and Stanley families to participate in their storytelling.

"They are part of our community," said co-creator Nolan.

A new play in Saskatoon chronicles Colten Boushie's death and Gerald Stanley's trial in a documentary-style theatre performance. (Colten Boushie/Facebook and Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

"We wanted to make sure that we did this in an honourable way and in a way that was full of integrity."

That meant being sensitive to the stories of the families involved.

The creators visited Red Pheasant First Nation, where Boushie lived prior to his death. They spoke to his mother, Debbie Baptiste.

Joel Bernbaum is the co-creator of Reasonable Doubt, which debuts this week at Saskatoon's Persephone Theatre. (Guy Quenneville/CBC)

They reached out to the Stanley family as well, but they declined to participate, Bernbaum said.

"We have built relationships with friends of the Stanley family," he said.

Time to process

Persephone Theatre has carved out time after the performance for audience discussion.

"If we do our jobs right, you come to the theatre and you hear your own opinions and feelings on stage," Bernbaum said.

"And you also hear totally new and different opinions and feelings on stage."

He encourages the audience to come to the performance with an open mind.

People may need to decompress after the show, so a quiet room will also be provided.