Young actors bring story of war and love to life
Here’s a challenge: Set a play during World War I, have it take place in multiple locations on two continents. Achieve this with two actors in 90 minutes, and don’t let them ever leave the stage.
If you succeed, you have Mary’s Wedding, by Stephen Massicotte, a one-act play about Mary Chalmers and Charlie Edwards, set primarily in Alberta, Canada, in July 1920.
The play is a dream Mary has on the eve of her wedding, recounting her relationship and courtship with Charlie and their time in Canada, as well as his time serving in the war.
all for One productions is taking the challenge and bringing this stunning tour de force to the stage with Cooper Beer as Charlie, a farm boy who grew up in rural Canada, and Jessica Munsie as the English socialite who just moved to town with her family. The young people meet in a barn when they seek shelter from a storm. They are instantly drawn to one another, and we see their love blossom and grow throughout the show. Since dreams are non-linear, we also jump back and forth to Charlie’s time enlisted in the Canadian Cavalry, and his inner battle to cling to love and hope in the midst of the horror he sees. Charlie writes Mary every day, and it is through those letters we experience his time in the trenches.
One of the unusual aspects of this show is that nothing, and no one, enters or leaves the stage. We had to create a set where props could peel off and become other things. A gate becomes a horse and a trench wall. A barrel becomes a table.
We also employed several technical elements to help with the storytelling. Through the projections designed by Brock Eastom, (Frosty Pictures), sound design by J. Scott Kump, lighting design of Luke Holliger, and an original score by local composer Jonathan Schlegel, my hope is we will take the audience on a fantastic journey, between the love story in Canada and the war story overseas, as Massicotte has intended for us to experience.
This has been a directing adventure since this is my first adult production after nearly a decade directing and teaching teenagers. One of the things I decided early on in this process was that I wanted to create a collaborative effort between myself and the actors. Creating an environment where ideas were welcome and imaginations used. So, before any blocking, we sat and discussed all vantage points of every scene, taking all thoughts into account before we put the scene on its feet. This process allowed us to organically, spontaneously craft something that was real and raw. It helped create the intimacy this show calls for and makes you feel like you are experiencing everything Mary and Charlie are going through as they retell their story.
As my all for One directing debut, I am very proud to share this experience with such talented actors and professionals. Mary’s Wedding will be one of my fondest theatrical memories for years to come.