Baddeck pro­duc­tion a dream come true for mother, daugh­ter

His­tor­i­cal com­edy based on group started by Ma­bel Bell

Cape Breton Post - - CAPE BRETON - BY DAVID JALA

For a mother and daugh­ter with deep Cape Bre­ton roots, play­ing a mother and daugh­ter in a Baddeck theatre pro­duc­tion is a dream come true.

Af­ter spend­ing most of their sum­mers in Cape Bre­ton, Han­nah Ziss and her mother Christy MacRae fi­nally de­cided to pur­sue their dream of work­ing to­gether on a sum­mer theatre pro­ject in Baddeck.

Their col­lab­o­ra­tion has led to a play they co-wrote called “The Young Ladies of Baddeck Club” that Ziss de­scribes as a fic­tional his­tor­i­cal com­edy.

“My mom and I have wanted to pro­duce theatre in Baddeck for quite a long time,” says Ziss, a 23-year-old ac­tor from Toronto.

“Both as a way to still be work­ing in the sum­mer and to be in Baddeck and also be­cause we have a strong belief that theatre can re­ally thrive here.”

The two are no strangers to Baddeck as MacRae’s fa­ther grew up in Mid­dle River, where fam­ily still lives, and both have spent sum­mers in the area for as long as they can re­mem­ber.

Ziss says she al­ways won­dered why the vi­brant sum­mer tourist com­mu­nity did not of­fer nightly theatre.

“We had al­ways talked about do­ing some­thing to­gether in Baddeck and then an idea sparked af­ter we saw a pic­ture that caught our eye,” she said, re­fer­ring to a pho­to­graph from Jocelyn Bethune’s His­toic Baddeck book.

“It’s a fan­tas­tic pic­ture of a group of ladies in what are clearly hodge­podge cos­tume pieces re­hears­ing for a play and the pic­ture struck us as so in­ter­est­ing and so funny that it sparked us to write this his­tor­i­cal fic­tion com­edy.”

The real Young Ladies of Baddeck Club was the idea of Alexan­der Graham Bell’s wife Ma­bel, who was inspired by a meet­ing of pro­gres­sive women in Washington, D.C.

In 1891, a num­ber of Baddeck women gath­ered at the Bell home where they formed a women’s club ded­i­cated to learn­ing more about the world.

Ac­cord­ing to Bethune, the club’s need for printed re­sources such as en­cy­clopae­dias and news­pa­pers led to the cre­ation of the Baddeck Public Li­brary.

For Ziss and MacRae, the pic­ture that caught their at­ten­tion and the history be­hind the club led to the play they are now per­form­ing at Baddeck’s Ma­sonic Hall.

“There are so many things you can do with four women who don’t know what they are do­ing and are try­ing to put on a play,” said Ziss.

“For us, it’s a lit­tle bit of art im­i­tat­ing life with mother and daugh­ter try­ing to put on a play.”

The Theatre Baddeck play opened July 23 and runs through Au­gust 15. The four-per­son cast, that also in­cludes El­iz­a­beth Tan­ner and Gra­cie Rob­bin, will per­form six days a week (no shows on Tues­days) with two shows on Thurs­days and Satur­days.

For sched­ule and ticket in­for­ma­tion go to www.the­atre­bad­ or email the­atre­bad­


Shown here are the cast of “The Young Ladies of Baddeck Club,” in­clud­ing from left, Han­nah Ziss, El­iz­a­beth Tan­ner, Christy MacRae and Gra­cie Rob­bin. The play is be­ing per­formed through Aug. 15 at the Ma­sonic Hall in Baddeck.

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