Cross into the world of “Marion Bridge”

Sandra McNeill, Kerrie Whitehurst and Lindsay Hébert (pictured left to right) seamlessly portray the MacKeigan sisters and the nature of family ties and life challenges under the direction of Jane Brownrigg. Courtesy photo by PJ Pearson

Pamela Pearson

In anticipation of our country’s 150th birthday celebrations, Russell Association of Performing Arts (RAPA) presents this Governor General’s Award-nominated play written by Cape Bretoner Daniel MacIvor. Marion Bridge is a tale of siblings who as adults have parted ways, only to gather together in the familiar setting of their childhood home to support a dying mother, fight the ghosts that live there, and strengthen the bond of family ties.

Filled with humour, the story is also one of self-discovery for sisters Agnes, Theresa and Louise. The hilarious rapid-fire delivery of lines is sure to be recognizable as ‘true to form’ sibling conversations!

Kerrie Whitehurst plays oldest sister Theresa — or Saint Theresa, as Agnes calls her. She is a devoted nun in New Brunswick and, like Agnes, is uncertain of herself but more steadfast. Theresa is full of profound questions — about the world, where she’s meant to be, whether her life decisions have been the right ones and especially her “calling.” In preparing for the role of nun and farmer, Whitehurst researched farming in the Maritimes and the history and contribution of religious orders to the agricultural landscape. “Theresa’s outlook changes slowly throughout the play. She grows and evolves as a person, and my challenge is to be sure every aspect of her character, including presence, speech, and body language reflects those changes,” said Whitehurst.

Agnes, portrayed by Sandra McNeill, is an actor who has returned from Toronto and is desperately trying to put a bright face on a disappointing career. Like the ostrich, she buries her head in the sand to avoid the responsibility of “taking care of mother.” McNeill, who previously lived and worked in the Toronto theatre industry, found that she could very easily relate to Agnes. “It is difficult to make a living in the business and it is easy to fall into the ‘social’ world of the theatre,” observed McNeill. This is her first major acting role, though she is no stranger to the local theatre scene, having directed and produced shows for RAPA, Greely Players, and Ottawa Little Theatre, among others. “I have to keep my nose out of that area and focus on my part,” laughed McNeill.

Youngest sister Louise, acted by Lindsay Hébert, just fades in and out from room to room as she has always done, but in the end — with her sisters’ support and love — she will learn who she is. “I am the youngest child in my family, and there are definitely aspects of how the other two sisters treat Louise that I have seen throughout my life from my older siblings, so my reactions in many scenes are quite genuine!” Hébert commented. She has found it to be an exciting challenge to find her voice with the tom-boyish Louise, which, in her words, “isn’t exactly my style in real life.” By incorporating Louise’s mannerisms and body language into her day-to-day life wherever possible, Hébert has gradually found herself more comfortable in her character’s skin.

RAPA is very much looking forward to sharing the personality and gentle humour of Canada’s “down east” with you. Ciad Mile Failte.

 


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