McKnight continues to perform 26 years later

Times-Herald Staff
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For the 26th year in a row a Moose Jaw actor will be acting in one of the prairies most historically significant productions.

Wilfred Gayleard and Russ McKnight dressed for the Trial of Louis Riel. Submitted photograph

From May 6 to 9, Russ McKnight, will be acting in “The Trial of Louis Riel” a play that was written in 1967 and is based on actual court transcripts of the famous trial that took place in 1885. The RielCo Productions play has toured across Saskatchewan and Canada.

“It can be an emotionally filled play based on historical facts and significance,” said McKnight. “One reason why it ends up being so popular is a few years ago Riel was officially recognized as a founding father of confederation and that has brought up more interest.”

Out of the 28 roles in the production, McKnight has played 18 of the them throughout his nearly three decades acting in the play. He has played a defence lawyer, a priest, a doctor and the main general. However, this week he will be playing a storeowner.

Since he started acting in the play in 1989, McKnight never missed a performance until 2011 when he took a week off to perform in Rhubarb Productions musical, “The Sound of Music.” Then in November of 2013, McKnight took a leave from performing for the second time. This time it was because of a near death experience that sent him to the hospital with high blood sugar.

“They took me to the hospital and they couldn’t get a level on me at first, until finally they determined that my blood sugar was 58,” he recalled. “They said they had never seen that. Normal is between four and seven.”

Despite his recent health problems, McKnight is motivated to keep acting and has many reasons to continue.

“It’s a challenge and keeps my mind active and the people are a lot of fun to be with — because I have been involved with theatre people most of my life I find a lot of the people involved with theatre to be more out going and confident,” he said.

McKnight, who has 200 acting credits to his name and over 44 years of experience, will be performing at the MacKenzie Art Gallery at the T.C. Douglas Building. The show will host Canadian History students from across the prairie provinces. Regular season shows will begin on July 14 to Aug. 1, with tickets available at or by calling 1-306-728-5728.

Those interested in acting in the production can contact Guy Michaud at 1-306-531-2693 or

Nathan Frank can be reached at 306-691-1263.

Organizations: MacKenzie Art Gallery, T.C. Douglas Building

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Canada

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