Halo's director, Ken Hildebrandt, shares thoughts on a Canadian classic...


We all desire a place where we belong, a place where life makes sense and we feel grounded. A place where we feel at peace, a sense of safety, and experience solace & security.

All of the characters you will meet in Halo are searching for a place to call home. Casey, feeling stifled by small-town life, is seeking a better life in the big city. Donald seeks grounding and solace in his faith while Jansen searches for belonging in his sports. Lizzie returns from the big city to find that her former home is not the same. Father JJ, a progressive priest, looks to find connection with his parishioners while Fat Bob seeks security in capitalizing on a ‘miracle’ outside his restaurant.  

All this set against the backdrop of a sudden and bizarre appearance of a vision of Christ in an unlikely place coupled with a tragic vehicle accident that has left a daughter in a coma. Halo explores how each of our characters seek to find a sense of home in the midst of life’s strange and heart-rending circumstances, and it’s this central theme that gives Halo a universal quality that we can all relate to.

If this theme is the heart and soul of the play, then theatrics and comedy constitute the outer shell. Often, we need to peel back the complex layers of life to see what’s actually happening. That takes time and effort, and sometimes we get so enamoured by the outer trappings, we can’t see what truly lies beyond.

We’ve chosen to respect the playwright’s ideas on how the play might be produced by creating a circus/theatre-like atmosphere.  The idea of theatrics vs. reality became a central concept for me, and you’ll notice we use a lot of theatrical devices (i.e. actors never leaving the stage but watch as scenes unfold, simple costume changes happen in full view of the audience, actors play multiple characters in short order, etc) through-out the show to underscore this concept.  The backdrop itself looks like a bar-code, emphasising the trappings of commercialism.

These elements all help to create a chaotic environment that not only connects with the bizarre happenings of the play, but creates an interesting obstacle for the characters as they seek “home” in their faith, their family, their circumstances and their community. As the play unfolds, we’re challenged to evaluate further questions: What is a real miracle? How do we deal with pain and rejection in a healthy way? What is prayer? How do we relate to God, who often looks and acts according to our own perceptions and ideals? What does true faith look like, especially in the context of our consumer-driving society?

Deep questions for sure. But let’s not forget that Halo is a delightfully funny play with a tender heart that, despite its trappings, shows genuine respect for its characters, for faith, prayer, miracles and our search for home. I think it’s what makes Halo a true Canadian classic, and I believe Josh MacDonald has written a masterpiece.

We hope you will come out and experience this thoroughly Canadian play. Our mandate at Gallery 7 Theatre is to explore the spiritual, relational and social aspects of the human experience with a vision towards hope, reconciliation and redemption. I think all of these qualities are found in Halo, making this show a perfect fit for Gallery 7, and an ideal production for our community to enjoy.

Please come again – we have more shows to come in our 2016/2017 “Be Transformed” season including Beauty and the Beast in March and Enchanted April in May. The arts are so crucial to the spiritual, intellectual and emotional health of our community and we hope that you will find a theatre home here at Gallery 7. Enjoy the show!