In collaboration with Moose Jaw Transition House, the Moose Jaw Community Players will bring Paradigm Shift, a play about a woman escaping domestic violence, to the Performing Arts Theatre on May 15 and 16. 

The play came about after local scriptwriting duo Debbie Burgher and Joan Stumborg decided they wanted to tackle the challenge of accurately and authentically portraying the effects of domestic violence. 

“We had done a play several years ago called Shaking the Tree, which was something that (Joan) and I had written together,” explained Debbie Burgher. Burgher is a lifelong drama teacher and director who has held many key roles with the Community Players. 

“We decided that it needed a big rewrite, so this new version that everyone will be watching is completely rewritten by Joan, who is the writing genius. And as we were looking at it, we’re like, we should really partner with Transition House to bring this topic to light.” 

“The play was already very authentic,” said Jenn Angus, executive director at Transition House. “They did such an incredible job of really looking at the complexities of domestic violence from so many different angles.  

“My contribution was walking them through what that cycle of violence looks like, in some cases, so how the escalation process works. And one of the things I really wanted to bring attention to is that when domestic homicide occurs, it’s often when a woman decides to leave.” 

The play examines domestic abuse over time, including from historical perspectives when such abuse was not only common, but a culturally accepted — and expected — part of relationships. 

The play’s subject, a woman in an abusive relationship, receives indirect support and guidance from Hildegard of Bingen, a German abbess and genius in the High Middle Ages who contributed to the fields of music, philosophy, medicine, and religious scholarship; Nellie McClung, the activist, legislator, and suffragette who famously fought for women to be legally recognized as ‘persons’; and Joan of Arc, who became an unlikely and beloved military leader in the 15th century. 

“These women come from history and they are there to help this woman in the modern era,” Burgher explained. “They don’t know how they’re going to help, but they try to lead her to discover her own strength. ... kind of like the angel on your shoulder ... and they work through her friend who comes over to talk to her, too. 

“It’s just about an hour long and it’s very powerful and very beautiful.” 

Jenn Angus, executive director of Transition House (file photo)Jenn Angus, executive director of Transition House (file photo)

Transition House will help to promote and advertise Paradigm Shift, and they will be there for the performances on the 15th and 16th at the Moose Jaw Performing Arts Theatre — in the same building as the Museum & Art Gallery and the Public Library. 

“We’re going to have some materials available there both nights of the play to show what the Transition House does, what all of our programs are like, who we are and then myself and some of our amazing outreach workers and frontline staff are going to be in attendance,” Angus explained. 

“If somebody feels that they need to talk afterwards or if something from the play really strikes a nerve ... we’ll be there for that, as well.” 

Tickets are $15 (plus tax) and can be purchased from the Moose Jaw Community Players Eventbrite page, or in-person from Wells Camera & Sound on Main Street North.  

Transition House and the Community Players will split any profits from the two showings.