Baddeck production a dream come true for mother, daughter
Historical comedy based on group started by Mabel Bell
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.theatrebaddeck.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.