We talked to the two casts of Mary’s Wedding about theatre in a pandemic, what they’re excited about, and what the play means to them, among other things. If the state of the world has got you down, read on for some inspiration and hope for the future!
How are you doing at this weird time? How has COVID affected your practice?
Sarah Roa: I think that this strange time has opened up my mind towards a better creative artistic practice. I’m more aware of my mental and physical wellness and honor when I need to take a break, as to avoid burn out. Whereas in the before times, I was consistently burning myself out. I am grateful for the challenges that I have faced during this time because it has proven that I am resilient and that theatre is my passion that I will always fight for.
Emma Ross: I felt really rusty when we started out! I haven’t done a full theatre contract since February 2020. There were a lot of times where I had to remind myself of what makes for a successful and fun rehearsal day for me, and what I can be doing to support the rest of the team in the rehearsal hall.
Tanner Zerr: I would say for the most part I’m doing fairly okay during all this craziness. Staying busy helps, and this show has been keeping us quite busy.
As a young person in our current time, how do you think people have changed since 1914? What remains the same?
TZ: Part of the fun of this script for me has been piecing together what life was like in that time frame. People moved, touched, and thought in a very different way. It certainly wasn’t an easy way of life. Personally, I come from a background of farmers who settled on the prairies in the early 1900s, so it’s given me an opportunity to dive into my own family history to try and build my interpretation of Charlie.
Is Mary’s Wedding a love story, an anti-war play, a beautiful dream, or a mashup of all three? Feel free to throw in other things that the play is, for you.
SR: It is a love story; a journey of witnessing two young people falling in love for the first time. It brings its audience by painting many very beautiful portraits and leaves them thinking about the first person they fell in love with. It’s a moment to reminisce innocence, love and the journey out of adolescence.
ER: To me it’s all three, but a love story at its core. I’m still exploring the juxtaposition between the descriptions of serving on the front line versus the journey of falling in love. It’s a reminder to not take our loved ones for granted. It’s a story that Mary tells for Charlie.
The script makes big jumps in time–as an actor how does that challenge you?
SR: It’s thrilling, Mary ages throughout the play from 15-21 years old in very quick bursts. It keeps me on my toes and has me reliving all those moments in my life as a young person.
ER: Physically adjusting myself according to Mary’s age as well as swapping clearly between Flowers, Mary, and narrating has been the biggest challenge in this production for me. Jacob, Donna and I did a lot of text and brain work to identify time jumps and string different timelines and locations together.
TZ: It’s a good challenge as an actor because we have to make sure we keep the characters’ journey clear and know exactly what’s happened or not happened, in each scene. Thankfully, the playwright helps us out because the scenes are structured in way that, although there’s a jump in time, the emotional quality carries over and almost bleeds into the next scene.
Is there anything you would like audiences to know about this piece?
ER: I think it’s interesting to note that the story takes place over quite a long time span of 6 years. Charlie and Mary meet in early summer of 1914 and the play ends in 1920.
What about this performance are you most excited about?
ER: I’m really excited to time travel with our audiences! Stephen Massicotte’s text is filled with rich and specific imagery. It’s really fulfilling when I allow myself to let the language transport me. I hope that watching our show will do the same for others.
TZ: I think I’m most excited for the tech. We’ve been working hard rehearsing to make sure the story is in our bodies, but the set, lights, costumes, and sound really brings it together. It puts you right into the world of it, and it informs so much of the performance.
Are there any upcoming performances (Firehall or otherwise) that you are looking forward to?
SR: I was meant to have my first season at Bard on the Beach in 2020. The show is being produced this year and I am beyond excited about it. I will be playing my dream role, Puck in a Midsummer Nights Dream.
Jacob Leonard: I really want to see Noises Off with the Arts Club. I have wanted to do a bombastic comedy for a while but don’t necessarily think I have the proper skillset at this point in my career. I think seeing Noises off would provide me with many valuable ideas and lessons about the genre.
ER: Beautiful Man at Pi Theatre, Ominous Sounds at the River Crossing at Touchstone Theatre and Six of One at Studio 58!
What has been inspiring you lately? (Theatre or not!)
SR: Working with children has been very inspiring. I teach drama at the Shadbolt Arts Centre and my youngest group I teach is between 4-5 years old. They are such a delight to be in the room with because they are so engaged and committed to their imaginations. It’s wonderful to watch them play and share my love for acting with them.
JL: I’ve been really inspired by HBO’s Succession. It’s one of those rare TV shows where you wonder how its conception was even possible. The directing, writing, producing and acting all just come together perfectly on some cosmic level or something–I don’t know–that sounds whimsical, but it’s true. Shows like this shouldn’t exist on paper. There is just far too much dedication and talent.
ER: I’m obsessed with Euphoria like the rest of the world, as well as Florence Pugh and Phoebe Waller-Bridge.
TZ: it’s inspiring for me to see theatre companies like the Firehall creating work for young actors such as myself. Trying to start your career as an actor in the middle of the pandemic is daunting to say the least, but this show gives me hope, and hopefully it will inspire other people too.