Arts & Culture

How is a mother to cope?

By Lorraine Graves

Published 3:30 PDT, Fri September 13, 2019

Last Updated: 12:29 PDT, Fri October 4, 2019

What do you do when your teenaged daughter won’t listen? It’s an age-old question. The latest production from Pacific Theatre opens Friday, Sept. 13 and explores just that issue.

What do you do when your teenaged daughter won’t listen? It’s an age-old question. The latest production from Pacific Theatre opens Friday, Sept. 13 and explores just that issue.

But, with a twist. The teenager mom struggles with is Joan of Arc, the self-appointed, and she says God-appointed, warrior and savior of France, also known as the Maid of Orleans.

“Mother of the Maid” seemed an obvious choice, according to Richmondite and head of Pacific Theatre, Ron Reed, “I knew it was a Pacific Theatre play the moment I heard about it.  The Broadway production with Glenn Close in the title role made me figure it was probably a pretty great script - and it is!,” he says.

Having done the classic play, “Saint Joan” 20 years ago which tells the story from Joan’s point of view, this seemed a natural choice to Reed.

Reed says the play looks at personal issues: “How do we find our way in the world? What if following our calling causes pain to the people around us?  And when someone we love chooses a difficult way, how do we hold on while letting go?”

Reed himself is looking forward to this production, saying he is delighted at the cast he has assembled for this professional production.

First off, it showcases Anita Wittenberg, a long-time member of Pacific Theatre, in the mother’s role. She has recently returned to Vancouver.

The production also introduces a young woman that Reed calls remarkable in the role of Joan.

Shona Struthers was an apprentice at Pacific Theatre. Most use these apprenticeships as a post-graduate experience but Struthers’ audition was so stellar that she garnered an apprentice position straight out of high school. Now, she reappears with the theatre company as a professional.

Also in the cast is Ian Butcher whom Richmond audiences will remember from the powerfully-played role of the hardened lifer in Gateway’s knock-out production on “Gross Misconduct” last season.

When asked what people can expect of “Mother of the Maid” Reed says, “It takes me through an amazing gamut of emotions, from the laughter of recognition in the opening scenes  to the heartbreak of the story’s inevitable conclusion.  It’s got all the feels!”

And Reed can empathise with Joan’s mother: “My wife and I raised two daughters. The story of strong young women finding their way in the world, sometimes having to fight to break free of Mom and Dad, touches a lot of us. Well, I guess, all of us!  And, if we haven’t been parents, we’ve had them!  And no doubt caused them some sleepless nights.”

Reed says that while the ending is expectedly sad,” The play itself actually very funny” as a mom struggles with a headstrong daughter intent on following her own path. Sound familiar?

“Mother of the Maid” plays Sept. 13 to Oct. 5, 8 p.m. Wed. to Sat. with 2 p.m. Saturday matinees at Pacific Theatre, 1440 W 12th Ave. Vancouver. For tickets ($20-36.50, HST not included) call 604-731-5518 or visit pacifictheatre.org.

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