When one local actor went on the hunt for an all-female production to showcase local talent, it took a while but she finally found it.
It’s a Canadian war-time era production that features five women Waiting for the Parade, a play by John Murrell.
Sandra Clermont is presenting the stage reading while also taking on a character.
But don’t get confused when you hear the list of actors joining the cast.
Clermont takes the role of Catherine, while Katherine Trepanier plays Margaret and Catherine Hansen plays Janet.
That’s a lot of C-Katherines.
Melissa Glover plays Marta and Laura Heagy plays Eve.
There’s been a few delays in presenting the play due to the pandemic but it seems a bit serendipitous as the play goes Oct. 22 and 23 on the Theatre NorthWest stage, just a few days before Remembrance Day.
Clermont doesn’t want the label of director as the experience each person brings to the table makes the production a more collaborative effort than what usually takes place on set.
“Everyone in the cast is extremely experienced,” Clermont said, who is much more comfortable describing her role as producer. “So I’m not directing these women, it’s me being part of the process.”
Clermont and Hansen first got the idea about a year ago when they performed together in a production Glover had directed as a stage reading of Where We Are.
“We had such a great time,” Clermont said. “I loved it so much so afterwards - it might’ve even been before we had left the green room - Catherine and I just looked at each other - ‘we have to do something else’ - her and I were kind of back and forth for about a week with some different ideas we had and we were looking for something very female centred.”
They found Waiting for the Parade.
“We wanted something where we weren’t just the accessories to the play,” Clermont said.
They quickly brought Glover on board and then the biggest challenge wasn’t who else to bring in but how they could present it during the pandemic.
Months went by as dates were tentatively set and postponed and now with safety protocols in place and an adaptation of a fully produced traditional play turned into a stage reading the women are ready.
Glover has continued to be behind-the-scenes in her theatre work during the last few years and has most recently taken the role of artistic associate at Theatre NorthWest where she supports others’ projects.
“I haven’t really had the opportunity to act on stage much in the past few years so it’s been really great to work with such a wonderful group of women who are supportive, kind, talented, funny and fun and are just really veterans of the theatre community here,” Glove said. “It’s great - I mean I still love directing and that’s what I will pursue full time professionally as an artist but I love getting up on stage and getting a chance to act, especially in something like this.”
Set on the home front during World War II, the play takes a reflective look at war from the point of view of the women left behind.
Waiting for the Parade offers drama infused with humour and songs that inspired a generation through war time.
“I think it’s important that we still share those stories because I think a lot of people are forgetting because our war veterans are getting older,” Glover said.
In the play she is Marta who is of German heritage.
“Marta moved to
Glover said doing a stage reading instead of a full-blown production could present some challenges to some but the stripped down version will showcase the true talent of the acting ensemble in this production. The focus will be the story telling and connecting with the audience.
Waiting for the Parade is a powerful play, Clermont said.
“It’s really showcasing the women that were left behind in so many different ways,” she added. “Like Marta dealing with living in Canada and being of German descent, or like my character whose husband has gone off to war as I am left with my daughter at home. Janet is really trying to keep everything together but has to deal with the fact that her husband didn’t go to war and the stigma and maybe the shame that goes with that. Everyone has their story and during the play there is a moment where the audience gets to see inside the lives of each of these women.”
All the women are showcased equally, there are no secondary characters, added Glover.
The play takes the audience from the start of the war to its end.
“We’re hoping that we get some audience members who will remember the songs performed during the show,” Clermont said.
There will be some nostalgia brought to the audience especially through the music, she added.
“It’s just a really lovely play and it’s close to Remembrance Day and every year we lose a little bit more as our veterans are no longer with us so trying to keep those stories alive is important as we bring a perspective that’s a bit different - women keeping the home fires burning and the efforts that were being put in at home. So the heroism takes place over seas while the strength is shown on the home front.”
Theatre NorthWest will continue to be in compliance with all public health orders. This means a vaccine passport and one piece of photo ID needs to be presented before each performance.
For tickets for the stage reading of Waiting for the Parade visit theatrenorthwest.com.