by Vanna Seeitt 

marionMarion Bridge is a touching story about three sisters who reunite at their family home on Cape Breton Island to care for their sick mother.

In a nutshell, Agnes (Catherine Clark), Theresa (Tracy Julian) and Louise (Jennifer Pfitzer) are three sisters with distinct personalities who must cope with caring for their mother as they reunite for the first time in many years. The show is both moving and funny. It explores childhood bonds, familial relationships, memories, paradigm shifts and more.

I sat down with director Kim Curran to talk about the Valley Players upcoming live theatre show.

Q:

What has been your biggest challenge directing this play?

A:

The play is the 3 sisters. The actresses needed to grow into these parts and become sisters. The challenge for me was to provide time that allowed Catherine, Jennifer and Tracy to build that sisterly bond. As the rehearsals progressed, I could see each sister come to life as an individual, and then slowly they would begin to understand the emotions of the other sisters which then would add another layer onto their character. The constant exploring, learning and shared process have built very complex actors, which is what the play demands.

Q:

I understand that the play takes place almost entirely in the family’s kitchen. How do you, as a director, help keep the interaction interesting?

A:

Life has its ups and downs so must the play. The tempo of the play must vary as well as its emotional journey. The playwright has provided us with situation where the characters are introduced in their most vulnerable time and we share their sadness and joy. We will feel when they are threatened, we will respect their decisions, we will empathize with their sadness, and we will laugh them and share their joy.

­As a director, I needed to ensure that this journey was faithful to the play, if I have done my part, this play should be very interesting.

Q:

Are there any major differences in the direction that you have gone with the play compared to the way you saw it done before?

A:

This play is about the characters, their experiences and transitions. To have a traditional set that represented a kitchen felt wrong. I wanted this beautifully written play to be front and center, and not be defocused by unnecessary elements, such as doors, cupboards, etc.

Q:

Is Marion Bridge a character-driven play?

A:

Yes. The author decided to construct the play around 3 sisters. Due to this, it’s the words and feelings that are expressed by the sisters which make this play so memorable. Although you never see or hear the girls’ mother, she is the fourth character, and critical to the plot.

Q:
If you were allowed only one word to describe the play, what would it be?

A:

Reconciliation.

Q:

Marion Bridge is set on Cape Breton Island. Is the location important, or could this story happen anywhere?

A:

The playwright is from Nova Scotia so he wrote the play in the context of Nova Scotia with its familiar use of Nova Scotia phrasing and rhythm to the language.  In addition the play is set within geographical layout of Cape Breton; therefore, the play is centered in Sydney Nova Scotia, with Marion Bridge being an important location, with meaning for the family. The playwright could have selected another location, but, Cape Breton provides a beautiful backdrop to the storyline.

Q:

It is an interesting choice, to have a local choir group, The Valley Voices, are going to perform on show nights. What is the thinking there?

A:

We had decided to introduce the play with the Song of the Mira.  The Valley Voices were informed of it and volunteered to sing it for us.  They had previously sung it and rehearsed it so they were more than eager to perform it for us.

Q:

I hear that The Valley Players of Almonte plans to donate the proceeds from their 50-50 draws to a different local charity when they do a play. Is there a special reason that you chose the Hub Hospice for this show?

A:

The V alley Players is a non-profit organization which looks to assist other local efforts. In the past, we have donated funds to organizations, such as, Mississippi Valley Textile Museum, Almonte General Hospital Auxiliary, Lanark County Food Bank, The Hub, and the Mills Community Support Corporation. This year, we decided that the Hub Hospice should be our focus since it is a new service for our community that brings much needed palliative care.

Q:
So, Kim, what do you want the audience to take away with them when they have seen Marion Bridge?

A:

I’d like the audience to leave thinking that they have seen a great Valley Players production. Those performances by Catherine, Tracy and Jennifer are outstanding. In addition, I hope that we have left a lasting impression, a moment that touched them, or brought back to memory of a similar experience.

So, come out and see Marion Bridge at the Almonte Town Hall this November. Shows are Friday the 15th, Saturday the 16th, Thursday the 21st, Friday the 22nd and Saturday the 23rd. All shows are at 8:00 p.m. except for the Sunday matinee on the 17th at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $20 each and you can pick them up at Mill Street Books (613-256-9090) and at the door.