Alumnae Theatre Company Presents THE DROWNING GIRLS, Nov 16-Dec 1
Beth Graham and Daniela Vlaskalic met at the University of Alberta, where they were both studying acting. After graduating from the program in 1998, they teamed up with director Charlie Tomlinson to write The Drowning Girls, a play based on a real-life Scotland Yard serial murder known as the "Brides in the Bath" case. In the early 1900's, bigamous conman George Joseph Smith used a series of fake identities to seduce and marry seven women, murdering three. He also convinced each wife to sign over her property to him, and collected on their life insurance policies. The Drowning Girls, focusing on three of Smith's ill-fated brides, premiered at the 1999 Edmonton Fringe Festival. An expanded version premiered at Alberta Theatre Projects in 2008, and has since been performed all over the world.
The play's brilliant use of stylistic and theatrical elements, having the brides go from scene to scene, playing multiple characters, is what drew director Taryn Jorgenson to the piece. "I was fascinated by why it is that the victims re-tell and re-live their tragic fates", she says. "In the early 1900's, women were forced into marriage for their reputation and security. But now in 2012 there is a different relevance: almost all women who experience violence from their loved one do not report it. Instead they blame themselves, thinking they could have changed his ways or 'not made him so angry'. Therefore this is a story about redemption and strength; in finally being able to speak out against how they were abused."
As he did for last season's Così, Ed Rosing designs both set and lighting. He envisioned the three tubs (with workable showers!) "growing out of the ground as if they were coffins", and the lighting conveys different atmospheres and moods to complement the script's rapid-fire shifts in time and place. Rick Jones has used an electric harmonium voicing with "an almost circus calliope sound" for all the music cues, which pushes the soundscape into the surreal. Add to that the whistling of "Nearer My God To Thee" – which means George is lurking in the background. An e-mail hooked Bec Brownstone on this project: "Pictures with women's names and a few words about them... Each page contained period dresses, modern ones, dresses with little structure, lots of structure and everything in between!" That was the jumping-off point for her costume design, which conveys the attitude/style of each character with a nod to the Edwardian period.
Alumnae Theatre Company's production of The Drowning Girls features three actors playing the "brides in the bathtubs" as well as other roles – male and female – and each takes a turn portraying her murderer: Jennifer Neales as Alice (the youngest; a vibrant, passionate woman who abandons her values), Tennille Read as Bessie (a posh, accomplished woman distanced from her family), and Emily OpAl Smith as Margaret (a lonely spinster who falls for the wrong man).
The Drowning Girls runs approximately 75 minutes. There is no intermission. Opening Night & Gala will take place on Friday November 16, 2012. The show runs from Friday November 16 through Saturday December 1, 2012, according to the following schedule: Wednesday – Saturday 8:00pm; Sunday matinee at 2:00pm. Talkback with cast & director will take place after the matinee on November 25.
Tickets: Wednesday 2-for-1; Thursday, Friday & Saturday $20; Sunday PWYC. May be purchased online for Thu/Fri (except opening night)/Sat at www.totix.ca (service charge applies).
Alumnae Theatre is located at 70 Berkeley Street (SW corner with Adelaide), Toronto. Box Office: 416-364-4170 (box 1) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For cash purchases, Box Office opens one hour prior to each performance. Please note: Alumnae box office does not accept credit or debit cards.