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New theatre company launches in St. John's

The Women's March in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, has inspired a new theatre company in St. John's.
The Women's March in Washington, D.C., earlier this year, has inspired a new theatre company in St. John's.

Persistence Theatre Company is taking on sexism both inside and outside the world of theatre. Says founder Jenn Deon, well-known in the province for both her theatre work and activism.

 “Recognizing that sexism is pervasive and ingrained, we wanted to influence a cultural shift through the art of theatre,” Deon said in a news release. “We’re not simply a theatre company that happens to be feminist – we’ve worked to build a feminist organization that uses theatre as its medium.”

The idea for Persistence Theatre was inspired by the January Women’s March on Washington and is now incorporated with a board of directors. Plans are set for its inaugural season, “Nevertheless She Persisted.”

 The plays selected for 2017-18 season reflect Persistence Theatre’s mandate to challenge discrimination and stereotype in all forms through stories where at least 50 per cent of the text is spoken by female characters, the company said in the news release.

Robert Chafe’s play “Isle of Demons” is being produced for the first time in the city. It tells the story of Marguerite de Roberval – marooned by her uncle on an island off northern Newfoundland in 1542 for daring to love a sailor. Directed by Deon, the production will star Marie Jones, Allison Kelly and Evan Mercer and will perform from Sept. 27-Oct. 1 at the Barbara Barrett Theatre.

 Next up in the week leading up to Remembrance Day is “The Bitterest Time,” written by Nova Scotians Andria Hill-Lehr and Sarah Blenkhorm. The story tells the true story of unlikely war hero Mona Parsons, the only Canadian civilian woman ever to have been imprisoned by the Nazis, and her incredible walk across Europe for freedom. Performed in the Theatre at the Gathering Place from Nov. 8-11, this production will be directed by Ruth Lawrence.

 The company strikes a lighter note in February with William Missouri Downs’ “Women Playing Hamlet” which sees a young woman cast in the title role of the famous play – and dealing with the negative attitudes of those around her as she struggles to convince them – and herself – she can do it.

 Finally, “Julia Caesar” presents a refreshing version of Shakespeare’s classic. How would this universal story of betrayal and rhetoric work if the major characters are women, rather than men? By setting the show in a matriarchal society, Persistence Theatre answers that question in April.

 “We’ve started an inspiring, provocative and terrifying project,” said board chairwoman Jean Graham. “But I and the other board members are proud to help support this important work in and for our community.”

Video link:

 https://youtu.be/P-EkPvTvzKE  

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