AUGUST 2019 | Volume 182
"Oh my sweet girl, don't you worry about Saint Catherine. Your mama is right here."
Are our destinies determined for us? Fifteenth century life is a struggle for Isabelle Arc. France is massing for war with England, she works eighteen hours a day, and her willful teenage daughter Joan is seeing visions of Saint Catherine. As Joan grows into the Maid of Orleans and her family's world turns upside down, Isabelle struggles with what it means to parent a saint. Pacific Theatre's 2019-2020 season opens with the Canadian premiere of Mother of the Maid, Jane Anderson's retelling of Joan of Arc's journey to the battlefields of France and her mother Isabelle's quest to follow her.
Mother is an ambitious show for Pacific Theatre's alley venue, with a cast of seven in full period costumes. Director Kaitlin Williams, who helmed last year's Jessie-nominated Kim's Convenience for Pacific, is excited to tackle the ups and downs of Isabelle and Joan's journey. "I love that Anderson offers us a familial and decidedly female lens through which to view this very familiar story," she said. "I think the audience will laugh at many recognizable moments – we've all been teenagers, we've all locked horns with a parent. How could a story about Joan of Arc be so funny? When family is involved, it is."
In the Broadway premiere, Isabelle was played by Glenn Close – now Anita Wittenberg (W;t, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time) is donning the Mother's bonnet and smock. "I'm thrilled to be a part of a play that tackles the themes of motherhood and faith from the point of view of some pretty amazing women from history," she said. Her on-stage daughter, Shona Struthers, has a long history with Joan - one of the most frequently interpreted historical figures in art, theatre, and film. "I first fell in love with Joan of Arc when I was fourteen and I got to perform a monologue from Shaw's "The Lark" in an acting class," said Struthers, who was most recently seen at Pacific in last year's The Wolves. "She's a beautiful study incontrasts: a headstrong teenager with wild ideas, yet also a saint and a martyr. I am so excited to play Joan, this bucket-list dream of mine, alongside Anita's Isabelle, with this fantastic script and team!"
Joan and Isabelle travel from the French countryside to the royal court, and set designer Carolyn Rapanos has created a versatile floral environment that transforms from a rustic hillside to an opulent chapel. "We've got a crackerjack team of designers," said Williams. "They have truly launched themselves into the challenge of this piece and are ready to share the medieval, modern, feminist, French world we've immersed ourselves in. It's going to be an incredible time."
Mother of the Maid opens Friday, Sept 13 and runs until Oct 5 at Pacific Theatre.
PRAISE FOR MOTHER OF THE MAID
"A triumphant blend of sharp sense and passionate sensibility." – The New York Times
"Riveting [...] an epic tale told from an unexpected and remarkable new perspective." – New York Magazine
Directed by Kaitlin Williams. Featuring Anita Wittenberg, Shona Struthers, Alejandra Simmons, Raes Calvert, Ian Butcher, Richard Newman, and Chantal Gallant.
Assistant Direction by Nicola Prigg. Lighting Design by Jonathan Kim. Sound Design by Mary Jane Pacquette. Costume Design by Stephanie Kong and Jessica Oostergo. Set Design by Carolyn Rapanos. Props Masters Monica Emme and Ariel Slack. Stage Management by Susan Miyagishima.
Details: MOTHER OF THE MAID by Jane Anderson
When: Sept 13 - Oct 5, Wed-Sat at 8pm with 2pm matinees Saturdays. Pay-what-you-can preview Sept 12.
Where: Pacific Theatre, 1440 W 12th Ave (at Hemlock), Vancouver, BC
Tickets: $20-36.50 (not incl. HST). To book visit pacifictheatre.org or call 604.731.5518
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