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Prairie Nurse is a playful ode to the outsider

PlayME’s new season begins with the story of two Filipino nurses in 1960s Saskatchewan. Prairie nurse, by Marie Beath Badian, is inspired by a true story.

PlayME’s new season begins with an offbeat comedy about coming to Canada

PlayME’s new season begins with the story of two Filipina nurses in 1960s Saskatchewan. Prairie nurse, by Marie Beath Badian, is inspired by a true story. (Ben Shannon/CBC)

If you live in Canada, chances are you have an immigration story. Whether you came here in your lifetime, or your ancestors did generations ago, most of us live here because someone had the courage to leave home.

Prairie Nurse, by Marie Beath Badian, is an offbeat comedy overflowing with all things Canadiana: prairie winters, hunting ducks, hockey and the search for a better life. It's the first play-turned-audio drama in the second season of PlayME — a podcast that recently joined the CBC family. 

The story transports us back to small-town Saskatchewan in the 1960s, not long after the birth of medicare, as two Filipino nurses arrive to work at a local hospital. While they couldn't be more different, no one in town can tell the two nurses apart, including the man that falls in love with one of them, but mistakenly courts them both.

Prairie Nurse transcends cultural divides and underscores that, whether you're from a tiny village in the Philippines or a small town in the Prairies, there is far more that brings us together than sets us apart.

Listen to Prairie Nurse below, in three parts:

Memorable quotes

  • "I am here to work. I don't have to be their friend. Anyway, they all look the same to me, it is hard for me to tell them apart." — Indepencia "Penny" Uy on befriending Canadians
  • "Hockey is a stupid game. But you didn't hear that from me. That's the kind of blasphemy that'll get you tarred and feathered around here." — Marie Anne Lussier on Canadian culture
  • "That Filipino language of yours sure is pretty. Sounds like music. Can't understand a word of it, mind you. 'Cept Saskatoon. But I don't s'pose there's a Filipino word for that, eh?" — Charlie Govenlock​ on what's lost in translation
Actors Isabel Kanaan, left, and Belinda Corpuz pause during the recording of Prairie Nurse, which leads the new season of PlayME on November 6. (Evan Aagaard/CBC)

About Prairie Nurse

This production of Prairie Nurse ran at the Factory Theatre in Toronto, and at the Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque, Ont.

Prairie Nurse was commissioned, developed and premiered at Blyth Festival. The play received additional development through Cahoots Theatre Company as well as funding support from the Ontario Arts Council. Prairie Nurse is produced by permission of the Author and Marquis Literary.

Cast and crew

  • Patricia "Patsy" Hackett: Janelle Hanna
  • Marie Anne Lussier: Catherine FInch
  • Purificacion "Puring" Saberon: Belinda Corpuz
  • Indepencia "Penny" Uy: Isabel Kannan​
  • Wilfred "Wilf" Klassen: Matthew Shaw
  • Charlie Govenlock: Layne Coleman
  • Dr. Miles MacGregor: Mark Crawford

The original theatrical production was directed by Sue Miner.