WE ARE THREE SISTERS
by Blake Morrison
Directed by Sandra Ferens
A United Players production
at Jericho Arts Centre
June 7-30, 2013
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A trio of brilliant siblings dream of life beyond their dreary Yorkshire house in Blake Morrison’s We Are Three Sisters, a stirring play that explores the unbreakable bond between Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë.
The action of the play unfolds in the Brontë family home in the months shortly before the sisters’ first novels were published. Though surrounded by a stark, gloomy landscape, the Brontë’s home is truly one of activity, vitality, and love. The sisters dote on their father, care for each other during consumptive coughs, and, once their father has retreated to bed for the evening, sit and write together, sharing their work with the only other women in the world who understand their particular dreams: to be published, and live beyond their lifetimes through the power of their words.
During daylight hours, the sisters are routinely besieged by a gaggle of men who would have them deviate from their path: William, the lovesick Curate; the Doctor, a drunkard who is desperate for Anne to be his bride; and the dullard Teacher, author of perhaps the most uninspired book ever written. Enter Brontë brother Branwell, a once-driven artist who has cast aside his talents and good sense to be the lover of the older, wealthy, married, and thoroughly abhorrent Mrs. Robinson. The Brontë sisters must unite to stay focused on their dreams.
The title of the play might evoke memories of United Players’ production of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sistersand while Chekhov’s play was certainly an inspiration for Morrison’s piece (and there are even arguments that Chekhov might have based his titular trio of sisters on the Brontës), We Are Three Sisters is far from a transposition, reinterpretation or restaging of Chekhov’s work.
Instead, We Are Three Sisters stands on its own as a unique story about the Brontës. Unlike other accounts of the sisters’ home life that are mired in gloom and despair, We Are Three Sisters presents a picture of an incredibly affectionate family, says Sandra Ferens, director of United Players’ production of We Are Three Sisters. “There was a reason a large portion of the community was drawn to that particular house, and the reason was the warmth of those sisters,” says Ferens. “They created a beacon at the top of a hill, but because of the gothic nature of their writingpeople locked in rooms and going mad and all of thatour preconceptions about the Brontës are hardly warm.”
In addition to dispelling the preconceived notions about the trio of literary greats, We Are Three Sisters presents an array of compelling ruminations on a multitude of themes, including self-actualization, marriage, women in the workforce, and the role of the artist in society. “One of the themes of the play is, ‘what impact do we make on the world?’ Some people make their impact in the present moment, perhaps through political action, and some people, especially artists, create work that impacts people for all time,” says Ferens. “A primary theme is working to create a better future, and you may not know or see that your life is meaningful in the present moment, but what you have to bear in mind is that you’re having an effect on the future.”
Ferenswho previously directed United Players’ production of Les Belles Soeurslauds the ensemble nature of Morrison’s play. “When I first read it, I thought that Charlotte was the protagonist, but as we’ve been working, it’s increasingly clear that it’s an ensemble piece,” says Ferens, who likened the interaction among the characters to that of a symphonic orchestra. “You need all of the voices to create the piece. Everyone is a part of what this is about.” This celebration of the ensemble is reflected in the casting, says Ferens. “This particular constellation of people has fit together vocally and connected perfectly.”
Riveting, heart-warming, and thought-provoking, We Are Three Sisters is an ode to sisterhood, women, artists, and dreamers.
United Players’ production of We Are Three Sisters features Olesia Shewchuk as Charlotte Brontë, Victoria Lyons as Anne Brontë, MariaLuisa Alvarez as Emily Brontë, Jordon Navaratil as Branwell Brontë, Nick Preston as Curate, Douglas Abel as Doctor, Helen Martin as Lydia, Sean Allan as Patrick Brontë, Emma Middleton as Tabby, and David Secunda as Teacher.
The production team includes Sandra Ferens, Director; Andree Karas, Executive Producer/Artistic Director; Vera Gammert, Producer; Sandi McDonald, Program Design and Web Page; Carolyn Rapanos, Set Designer; Graham Ockley, Technical Director & Lighting Designer; Elliott Squire, Costume Designer; Neil Griffith, Sound Designer; Bruce Suttie, Head Carpenter; Linzi Voth, Stage Manager; Joe Belanger, Carpenter; Mel Alpe, Wardrobe; Jill Goldberg, Wardrobe; Kate Carr, Wardrobe Mistress; R. Todd Parker, Props & Technical Assistant; Zoe Bellis, Assistant Stage Manager; Carissa Gagne, Assistant Stage Manager; and Tami Knight, Assistant Stage Manager.
Blake Morrison is an English author, journalist, poet and playwright. He is best known for his two memoirs, Things My Mother Never Told Me and And When Did You Last See Your Father? (the latter of which was adapted into a feature film starring Jim Broadbent as Morrison’s father and Colin Firth as Morrison).
Morrison grew up a stone’s throw away from the village of Haworth, where the Brontë sisters lived and the action of the play is based. We Are Three Sisters was originally performed by Yorkshire-based theatre company Northern Broadsides in 2011. United Players’ production marks its Canadian premiere.
BOOK YOUR TICKETS FOR WE ARE THREE SISTERS NOW
At the Jericho Arts Centre - 1675 Discovery (near Jericho Beach)
June 7-30, 2013
Thursday through Sunday, at 8 pm (2pm only on June 30)
$10 Preview: June 6
Talkback: June 13
Matinee: June 30 at 2pm (no evening performance)
Single Tickets: $16 - $20
Jericho Arts Centre
1675 Discovery Street, Vancouver, B.C. V6R 4K5
TICKETS: Online or call 604 224 8007, ext. 2
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