The Fiancée Promises a Fun Romp
By Ezekiel McAdams
December 2 2022
The Fiancée is Persephone’s second main stage production of the season. It is written by playwright Holly Lewis and directed by Persephone’s artistic director, Heather Cant. This is the first play she has directed this season.
The play debuted at the Citadel Theatre in Edmonton. The play was shortlisted for Sharon Pollock Playwrighting Award and won the Alberta Playwright Competition Novitiate Award last year.
The Fiancée is a comedy farce that takes place just after the end of World War II, and focuses on two sisters, Lucy and Rose. Lucy has promised to marry several men before they shipped off with the good intention of giving the men hope. Lucy then finds herself in the precarious position when all three men return and she has to deal with the aftermath
Cant has been the company’s artistic director since September 2021. She took over after controversy arose surrounding allegations of racism and intimidation. This is her first season that she has overseen creatively.
Born in Moose Jaw, Cant has had a diverse career. She graduated Gastown Acting School in 1998, she was associate artistic director of Western Theatre from 2014-2017. She created the Secret City project which was an immersive audio and theatrical experience through several cities. She obtained her Masters in Fine Art from the University of Calgary in 2021.
Originally Cant was unsure she was going to direct. “When I was initially putting the season together last year, I wasn’t sure if I would direct it. The season shifted in a way it made it really clear that this was the show for me. The fact that it’s a farce only makes it more attractive and Holly was really excited that I wanted to direct it.”
For Cant it was important to bring Lewis’ play to Persephone.
"I’m a great lover of Farce, I love comedy. Several years ago, when Holly got the idea for this show, we were talking and I loved the premise. And I really loved the reason Holly wanted to write this particular play. We have a shared opinion her and I. There’s a lot of great things that oftenare really funny and quite enjoyable. There’s a lot of tropes in the genre that are really harmful based on sexism, misogyny and racism and that doesn’t make it fun for everyone. It’s great to see something silly where people fall down and doors are slamming all over the place but she wanted to write something that really put women at the centre of the comedy and not as a prop for the escapades of men.” Cant said.
Cant expanded on why she felt it was important to continue to lift others up and explore stories previously not heard. She mentioned Boeing, Boeing, a play Persephone produced in 2019. It was written in 1960 by Marc Cameletti.
“You think of a farce like Boeing Boeing for example that Persephone did several years ago, and that story is about a guy who’s dating airline stewardesses and has a very complicated system to make sure they never interact and one day they all appear at his apartment the same day and shenanigans ensue and the women in that play are the comedy, instead of the comedy being about them they are the joke. The Fiancé is not about that, it puts its female characters at the centre of the comedy. They’re living an extraordinary moment in their lives and have to solve their own problems.” Cant said.
Cant is really excited to see the audience’s experience and interaction with the play’s level of comedy. “And my favourite thing is the audience gets to be the smartest person in the room, they know everything that the characters don’t and it makes it so exciting for the audience and the cast for all of those things to unfold. The comedy lives in the anticipation.”
The cast is another aspect that Cant gushed about.
“I love this cast they’re so talented and they’re so invested in the discovery and boy oh boy do they commit to a bit and it makes the process a lot of fun. We have some really fantastic actors from away, Jameela McNeil from Edmonton, Ali Watson from Vancouver and Cameron Grant from Toronto and some fantastic local actors, Kristel Harder, Kenn McLeod and Mackenzie Dawson. A great team, a real delight. ” She said.
Cant was surprised during the rehearsal process, how many props there were. “I know there’s lots of props but it wasn’t until we were in rehearsal and the actors are dealing with all the props. Lucy makes a cake on stage and ices it. That’s a really exceptional thing to do as an actor.”
Cant felt that intimacy coordination was necessary even though the play wasn’t as risqué as other productions. Erin Brophy is both the intimacy and fight director for this production. “Those moments have to be handled with care because that kind of vulnerability is something that has to be nurtured. Our industry has historically not had people in intimacy coordination roles and lots of people have been through things that have been really inappropriate or not handled properly and that can cause harm.” Cant said.
The entire experience has been really enjoyable and she hopes to share that with the audience. It’s been so nice to just go to work everyday and spend it laughing. It’s a fantastic team of people and we’ve just had a lot of fun together.” She said.
The Fiancée is playing at Persephone Theatre from November 30-December 18. Tickets can be bought online or at the box office.
“I want audiences to come to the theatre and fall in love again. The theatre has been through a rough couple of years with the pandemic, many theatres were closed entirely in that time. I wanted people to find some joy and for us at Persephone to play a part in it.