The Fighting Days features engaging, entertaining performances
Rave reviews for Performers’ Theatre Company’s production
The Performers’ Theatre Company has had another hit with their recent production of The Fighting Days, written by Nova Scotian playwright and Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre Lifetime member, Wendy Lill.
Lill is well known for her social conscience and served as an NDP Member of Parliament from 1997 to 2004. The production was engaging and entertaining with strong performances from the entire cast.
The Fighting Days was confidently directed by an emerging local playwright, Sue Rose, who recently won a Script Happens dramaturgy workshop in Saint John for her new play, Zeus in a Zoot Suit. Rose’s first play, Safe Harbour, was produced by The Performers’ Theatre Company last year. She is also known as a graphic artist and her skills were visible in the beautiful set.
The Fighting Days takes place in the 1900s in Winnipeg and follows the life of a young newspaper writer, Francis Marion Beynon. Francis argues passionately for the vote for immigrant women, even when it pits her against her mentor, the activist Nellie Mcclung, who believed that only Empire women should have the vote while the men were involved in the war.
There are heated exchanges between the young anti- war idealist Francis (played by Mahalia Thompson-onichino) and Nellie Mcclung (played by Vallie Stearns-anderson). And although it is a play of ideas and debate, it is not without emotion.
Francis and her sister Lily (played by Fiona Brett) support each other through difficult times and the hard-talking editor George Mcnair (played by Mike Gallant) tries to persuade Francis of the joys of domestic life, to no avail. Sue Rose has a small but delightful role reading the letters that are sent by Francis’s readers. The humorous letters are a window into the homes of women debating the issues, but whose most pressing need is for reproductive control.
The political turmoil of The Fighting Days seemed to play into the hands of the audience. It was especially poignant when a character, who had lost his job due to being outspoken, is said to be moving to the United States where it is still a “true democracy.” This brought a collective, cynical chuckle from the crowd.
It is exciting to think that The Performers’ Theatre Company has just begun to tap into the many scripts written by our very own Atlantic playwrights. Stephen Puddle, artistic director of the company, is a frequent and welcome visitor to the Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre Script Library, which is in the basement of the Crabtree Building on the Mount Allison University campus.
The PARC Script Library holds more than 800 Atlantic scripts and the non-profit organization runs a two-week writing retreat for playwrights every spring as well as cabarets, readings and workshops to foster playwrights and help them develop and produce their work.
and additional information are available online. Only online applications will be accepted. The application deadline is Nov. 30.
Francis Beynon, played by Mahalia Thompson-onichino, and George Mcnair, played by Mike Gallant, perform in a scene from The Performers’ Theatre Company’s production of The Fighting Days.