Virginia playwright adapts play to region for MAT production

Virginia playwright adapts play to region for MAT production

Jay Pyette

April 17, 2019, by Derek Hann, Havre Daily News

Montana Actors’ Theatre is starting a run this week of a play by a Virginia playwright adapted specifically to this part of north-central Montana

Suzanne Beal adapted her play “I am (not) my Mother” just for Havre, taking stories from community members in the region to bring something everyone can relate to at the show’s opening Friday in Cowan Hall’s Little Theatre at Montana State University-Northern.

“It touches everyone,” director Audrey Barger said. “I love how universal it is. I love how everyone can relate to it. It’s just done in a beautiful and touching way and represents everyones relationship with parents or their mother, even if it’s good or bad because we all go through different times with relationships with our mothers.”

Barger said that although the performance was previously advertised as a readers’ theatre it is now a full-length production.

She said the play is a heart-warming, at times comedic, compilation of skits, tales, music and poetry all rolled into one production, Barger said.

She said that she first found the play through her friend Margaret Hencz, Beal’s sister, and became interested in the play.

She got the script and spoke with Beal, who lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, Barger said, adding that Beal decided she wanted to have the play adapted to the local area and flew to Havre at the beginning of the year.

Barger said they hosted story circles in the North Harlem Hutterite Colony, Rocky Boy‘s Indian Reservation and two in Havre, with Hencz hosting one circle.

Women from all of these communities shared stories with Beal and talked about women in their lives. After that, Barger said, Beal flew back to Virginia where she incorporated the stories she heard into the script.

“A script that was written specifically for us, with stories of our local women and their mothers and daughters and their relationships,” Barger said. “It’s very relevant, it’s very relatable, very universal and not just for women but for men, as well, because everyone has a mother.”

It is a non-traditional play “but it’s us,” she said, with mothers, grandmothers, a bit of history, all incorporated into the script. She added that music will be incorporated into the play, as well, with the cast singing songs at different times goes along with the script.

Beal will also be available after the performance Saturday, April 27, for a question-and-answer session about the process of creating the script.

Barger said her favorite part of production was how it touches people, how it addresses the art of learning, and getting along.

“I’m proud of the whole thing,” she said. “The whole thing is pretty amazing.”

MAT tries to encourage writers by holding one or two local productions each season, Barger said. Beal isn’t necessarily local but the story is.

Angela Murri performs a monologue during a dress rehearsal of “I am (not) my Mother” Monday at the Little Theatre in Havre.

Barger said three of the play’s six actors, Angela Murri, Jamie Lynn McCoy and Sharon Dolph, participated in the story circles and contributed to the script. Barger added that they will not be playing their own parts in the story.

She said she wants people to leave feeling comforted and hopes memories will return to them after they watch the performances, memories of growing up, their relationships with their own mothers and role their mothers played in in their lives, regardless if it is good or bad.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students. All performances will be at 8 p.m. at the Little Theatre, Thursday through Saturday, April 18-20 and 25-27. Doors and Backstage Lounge will open at 7:30 each night.

“You should definitely grab your mothers or your daughters or whatever and bring them to the play,” Barger said.

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