SAMC theatre season opens with ‘The Cover of Life’
by Keri Vermeulen
For many theatre enthusiasts, there’s nothing quite like the honest intimacy and captivating story telling that happens on a small stage, in front of audiences of no more than a few hundred people.
When you match that small stage vibe with enthusiastic, talented and committed cast and crew, there is even deeper connection to life’s compelling stories.
That connection is exactly what we can expect from The Cover of Life, this month’s season opener at Trinity Western University’s School of the Arts, Media + Culture (SAMC). e play, written by R.T. Robinson, takes us back in history to the time of World War II, into a home in the southern state of Louisiana, where we nd three war brides, each married to brothers away at war, living under the same roof – that of their mother-in-law. e uniqueness of their living arrangement has captured the attention of none other than Life Magazine, who sends a cynical, unmarried female reporter to live among them and tell their story.
The Cover of Life is directed by Assistant Professor of eatre Kate Muchmore Woo, who is also SAMC’s Interim Chair of eatre. She says that underpinning the play’s personality clashes and differing cultural values, is the hopes and dreams of these women. Tension arises not only as the dreams inside each woman di ers, but also because of limi- tations put on women in 1940’s deep south.
“I have always been drawn to stories of women discovering who they are. e strength and depth of women is beautiful, and I love putting those stories on stage,” shares Woo, about choosing this script. “While women today are not as limited in what kinds of dreams they can pursue, there is still much to identify with in these women who want to be the best wives they can be while also pursuing the dreams God has given them.”
The characters are rich, and diverse. One sister-in-law is very conservative and religious, wanting to follow her husband’s desires; another is a irtatious party girl; and the third is a dreamer with a kind heart. But the play, under the direction of Woo, doesn’t rest on stereotypes, rather delves into the underlying heart behind each façade.
“I love how real these women are with each other,” says Woo. “ They’re a family – they bicker, support, hurt, and love each other. They tell each other like it is, and also hold deep secrets. There is a depth to each and every one of them that arouses your compassion – you really cheer them on.”
In addition to the intense drama as some dreams are realized and others crumble to pieces, the play, just like life, offers some very funny moments. “Southern American women have this humour that is ironic and sarcastic that you just don’t and anywhere else! One of my favourite quotes from the show: ‘Why do you wear hateful like you do your mas- cara?’ Too much,” laughs Woo. “ The play is an excellent mixture of serious, tough and what’s going on in the deepest hearts of these women, and full of joy and pain.”
Woo says SAMC puts a lot of thought into the plays they produce, choosing stories that show the truth and heart of human beings in a broken world, and their journeys toward wholeness. And she hopes that sharing stories on the SAMC stage would build shared experience in a world that is increasingly disconnected. “Today we’re becoming more disconnected and fragmented from each other, because of technology, and media,” says Woo. “It’s a rare thing now to go into an audience and feel the community of shared experience. Watching real human stories played out in front of you by live people, there’s power in that you’re not going to experience in a movie.”
The Cover of Life features performances by Alexandria Bay, Amanda Haggett, Hayley James, Lourdess Sumners, Connor Thiessen, Mikayla Wust, and Joelle Wyminga. The show runs Oct. 24 to 28, and Oct. 31 to Nov. 4. Showtimes are 7:30 pm, with 2 pm Saturday matinees (in addition to the evening show), in Freedom Hall on the TWU Campus. Content advisory: Moderate swearing and mature characterizations.