CORNWALL, Ontario – Although the Greek God of Theatre, Dionysus, cast a curse on Vagabond Theatre’s original fall production, the seasoned company certainly lived by the old adage, “the show must go on.”
Originally scheduled to stage the comedy, Bertha the Beautiful Typewriter Girl, producers found themselves with the age-old dilemma of not enough male actors at the audition to cast the show.
They did, however, realize that they had enough women for an evening of three, one-act-plays. So like Phoenix, An Evening of One Act Plays Celebrating Women in Theatre, rose from the ashes.
“It’s always a problem getting men to auditions,” said Jenny Dagenais, who is directing one of the plays to be performed, Relative Strangers by Sheri Wilner. “This whole cast is female.”
In fact, the entire evening features female directors and playwrights as well.
First time in the director’s chair, Dagenais, whom you might have seen performing in local productions of Figments (SVTC) Sin, Sex and the CIA, (Vagabond Theatre), was dealt an additional challenge with the casting of one of her characters, and wound up playing the part herself.
In Relative Strangers, a young woman tries to befriend a reluctant older woman on a plane, explains Dagenais, who also plays the flight attendant.
“I liked the story. There are some really serious parts and some really funny parts. I thought, ‘I can challenge my actors.’”
“It’s been a roller coaster ride,” she says of her first directing experience, “but it’s been fun.”
A veteran in the local theatre scene, Cathy Doyle Parent, directs the other two selections for the evening.
I Dream Before I Take the Stand, by Arlene Hutton, stars Alison Latimer as She and Nik Skidders as He.
“A defense lawyer cross-examines a woman during her testimony in a sexual assault case, and in doing so, horribly distorts her perfectly innocent walk in the park,” explains Doyle-Parent.
Because the part of the lawyer had been written for a man, special permission from the playwright, was required to cast a female. She gave her blessing.
“We are the world premiere of the all-female cast.”
The third piece, Just Reward by Carol Birch, also directed by Doyle-Parent, features Laurie Manzer, in the part of a woman on death row, who shares “her story” as she awaits her execution.
“It’s a different style of evening Vagabond patrons are used to, said producer, Dan Youmelle, who says that although there is some very serious subject matter in the evening, there are also some lighthearted moments, as well. “I think it will be good for the audience to see three different shows.”
After its upcoming run in town, the cast of Relative Strangers will be taking their show on the road to Haliburton, later this fall, to compete in the Eastern Ontario Drama League one-act play festival.
You can see An Evening of One Act Plays Celebrating Women in Theatre at Dream Builder Studios, 2107 Second St. West, Cornwall, October 16, 17, 22, 23, 24 (8:00 pm show time) and October 18 (matinee, 1:30 pm show time). Tickets are on sale now at Scotiabank, on Brookdale. Visit www.vagabondtheatrecornwall.ca, for further details.