On Sunday, May 21 the troupe will be in Annapolis Royal for a 7:30 p.m. pay what you can performance.
Then on Tuesday, May 23 The West Woods will be on the Al Whittle stage in Wolfville. The performance will also start at 7:30 p.m.
Written by Tara Reddick, Set in 1968, The West Woods is a new play inspired by a rural Black community in Guysborough County during a time of social change and upheaval. It focuses on the Clarke Family, and challenges the traditional expectations of rural Black women.
Mulgrave Road is a professional touring company which has been operating since 1978, focusing on producing new work from Atlantic Canada. This year, in honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, they have received a government grant to tour this story about a rural African-Canadian community in Guysborough County.
The financing has also made it possible for theatregoers to ‘pay what you decide’ for this performance, in the hopes that young people in particular will be able to afford to attend and that we all will be given an opportunity to learn about this ‘hidden history’.
The idea for the play originated in the mind of director Emmy Alcorn when she saw a photo of a Guysborough County black woman named Charlotte Desmond standing next to Ed Sullivan, the syndicated columnist and television personality. It turned out that Desmond was the nanny of the Sullivan children and that prompted a series of questions about all the local women who worked in the homes of white families, whether in New York or in Antigonish.
Though based in part on playwright Tara Reddick’s own family, where she was actually the first not to be ‘in service’, the piece is set in 1968. At that point real changes were beginning to take place in the lives of the black women in Upper Big Tracadie, the inspiration for West Woods. The story focuses on the Clarke Family, and a young, rural Black woman who breaks away from traditional roles to find her way in the world.
The cast includes Montrealers Mariah Inger and Alexandra Laferriere, as well as Nova Scotia actors Nathan Simmons and Micha Cromwell, who is from Digby County. She performed recently in Chasing Champions, Jacob Sampson’s acclaimed show.