Tag Archives: samara von rad

Waiting for the Parade

St Albert Theatre Troupe’s current show is Waiting for the Parade, by John Murrell, directed by Louise Large.   It’s set in Calgary during World War II, examining the lives of five women in wartime.  The set has five chairs set around the sides of the stage, each supported by some furniture and props representing the living environment for each woman.  The story unfolds in a series of vignettes and monologues.  The lighting shifts to the story being told, and the actors not involved in that scene are seated motionless and solitary in their own homes.

Not all the men in their lives are away at war, but they are all off-stage in one way or another.  What makes it more interesting is that the five women aren’t easily together as a group of friends.  Some have more in common than others.  When bossy Janet (Rhonda Kozuska) leads a group for some war-related project, the young teacher Eve (Jessica Andrews) tries hard to comply with her demands but older gloomier Margaret (Joanne Poplett) and independent-minded Catherine  (Andrea Newman) resist.   And after a while I realised that Marta (Samara von Rad), the German-Canadian woman running her father’s tailor shop while he is interned, is completely left out of the war work or the other women’s social lives.    This divide is expressed most poignantly early in the show when the group is singing the song Lili Marlene in English and Marta steps up to join in singing it in German.  “How odd.  I had forgotten it was one of theirs, first” sniffs Janet.   Later,  the other women gradually find more connection with Marta and she relaxes a bit with them, but never with Janet – the careful avoidance of a cemetery greeting at the end is sad but appropriate.

Like The Mothers or Atwood’s Penelopiad, this narrative explores the women’s version of a story that often focuses on the men’s actions.  The characters in this story end up confiding in each other about frustrations with husbands, fathers, and sons.  As the men are away or unavailable, the women’s bonds with each other are at least as significant as those within the families.  The performance ends with several of the women on a train platform waiting hopefully for Catherine’s husband to return home.  The war is over and so is this chapter.

Waiting for the Parade was directed with a light touch.  The performers found some of the humour in the character interactions without making any of them caricatures.  I was amused by Margaret’s straight-faced side comments (especially about pickles) and impressed by Marta’s never-resolved frustration with the situation she’s left in by her father.

Waiting for the Parade continues tonight and Thursday through Saturday next weekend, at the Kinsmen Korral in St Albert off Riel Drive.  Tickets are on their website here.  There is a well-stocked concession lounge available before the show and lots of parking.

Six Degrees of Separation

My posting hiatus of December and January started with being too busy, and I kept meaning to tell you why.   (Not the parts about work, Christmas-present knitting, needing a tire repair in a snowstorm, or straining my knee – those don’t make such interesting reading.)

In the fall I was  working on the play Six Degrees of Separation.  I enjoyed watching the production develop through the rehearsal process and it was a delight to share it with thoughtful audiences and hear/see them chuckle and sigh and applaud.

Six Degrees of Separation is a drama, written by John Guare and inspired by anecdotes of an incident he heard about from friends in New York City society in the early 1990s, in which several people were taken in by a young man claiming to be a movie star’s son and a university classmate of their children.  Back then it was a little harder or a little less natural to fact-check a new acquaintance, compared to today when it doesn’t feel like an unusual effort or a sign of mistrust to quickly check Facebook and other databases and follow up with questions.  In this case, one might use Facebook to find the visitor connected to the student family members and see which of one’s Facebook friends might know the movie star mentioned, as well as looking up the movie star on imdb.com and Wikipedia.  You might do this even when you don’t mistrust the new acquaintance, just to further the conversation and enhance your memory.  So if this story happened today it wouldn’t happen in quite the same way.  “Try the public library.” “Try Who’s Who“, the socialites suggest as a way of verifying what they’d been told.  “Who do we know who knows Sidney Poitier?” they wonder.  Confirming with their children away at school is delayed by difficulty getting through on the phone.  And the smooth-talking young man has slipped away long before they find a book in a bookstore confirming that Sidney Poitier, the movie star, has no sons.

So the details of the story set it firmly in a slightly dated period, but the attitudes remain familiar.  Ouisa and Flan Kitteridge (Nicolle Lemay and Nelson Niwa) are the wealthy Manhattan art-dealer couple recounting the story to the theatre audience.  Mary Ellen Perley and Darrell Portz, dale Wilson, and Bob Klakowich are other members of their social circle taken in by the charming young man (Jordy Kieto).  Macalan Boniec-Jedras, Samara Von Rad, Frank Keller, and Julian Stamer are their children, hostile to their parents while assuming the privileges of their birth.

After the first round of deceptions is uncovered, with some sense of betrayal especially to Ouisa but no material losses, things get darker.  Paul, the charming mysterious manipulator at the heart of the story, goes on to draw in some more vulnerable young people, played by Rudy Weibe, Kate Jestadt Hamblin, and Kyle Tennant, and to leave each of them devastated.   The ending is cryptic and unsettling.  Paul is the central character in the story, but in the playwright’s convention of having various characters step out of scene to provide narrative to the audience, we never ever hear from Paul directly.  We never do get to find out what he’s thinking or why he does anything he does, and I don’t believe anything he says.   It’s a fascinating script and a complex story.  I kept finding more in it throughout the rehearsal process, and the cast did it justice.  Apart from the main characters mentioned above, the story was filled out with Mark McGarrigle (a detective), Sonja Gould (a building concierge and a police officer), and Selina Collins and Greg Kroestch (ubiquitous servants).