When a Company Forms the Process
As rehearsals progress, it is the beauty of the play itself rather than its tragedy that has become most apparent to me.
by Anna Hopkins
The Montreal Theatre Ensemble will be putting on Arthur Miller's "All my Sons" from January 12th until the 28th at the college's Casgrain Theatre. The company is being hosted by John Abbott College through its Stage II program initiated by Terry Donald. This program allows for professional theatre students to audit rehearsals and partake in talk-backs, while giving MTE the opportunity to mentor Montreal's future actors. Although I had never been a student at the college, I heard about auditions and made my way out to Sainte-Anne de Bellevue from my apartment in the Mile End (for the first time!). To my delight it was a trip that would be the first of many.
Terry’s approach...has never been preoccupied with adapting the 1950’s story to appeal to newer audiences, but rather to find the truth and integrity in each character.
When embarking on this production as a new addition to the MTE, I was curious to see how Terry Donald would approach directing this classic Arthur Miller piece. As we gathered to meet for the first time, Terry had us listen to a CBC radio piece exploring the idea of beauty, and the ways in which such a thing can emerge from the world’s most horrible and dark places. I knew then that his approach to “All my Sons” would be guided by this concept. This powerfully tragic tale of post WWII American life explores the battle between acting unethically towards unknown others, in order to protect one’s own business and family. Through this exploration, a darkness emerges, and while the ends justify the means for some characters, the moral beliefs of others begin to unravel quickly.
In order to connect with a human perspective on the issues in the play, we attended the Hudson Legion to speak with WWII veterans.
As rehearsals progress, it is the beauty of the play itself rather than its tragedy that has become most apparent to me. I feel this is due to Terry’s approach, which has never been preoccupied with adapting the 1950’s story to appeal to newer audiences, but rather to find the truth and integrity in each character. By doing this, the complexity of the story has become apparent, and as time goes on it has become difficult to choose a character to side with.Terry has taught this play for many years to first year theatre students, and has yet to meet a group of young people who haven't been moved by its themes. Simply put, it's a play that makes you think, making this entire process extremely rewarding.
In order to connect with a human perspective on the issues in the play, we attended the Hudson Legion to speak with WWII veterans. A high spirited woman of ninety-two poignantly recounted her experiences serving as a nurse in Italy during the war, and briefly described the horrors of the burn unit she was assigned to. As we waited to hear more, she explained with a sad smile that to survive, she works to forget the those things. I then fully understood our responsibility to properly tell this story. Oscar Wilde once said that "theatre is the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being". I feel honored to be able to join the MTE in their production of "All my Sons", and look forward to sharing its story with others.