Monday, January 30, 2023

Interview with ‘Irene Farmer’

By Dan White – Special to the Sydenham Current

This week I am continuing the series of interviews with the four members of the cast for the Theatre Kent production of Remember, Maggy?

This column will focus on the role of Irene, played by JC Wright.

Before I get to that interview, a story about rehearsals: Last week I invited two guests to rehearsal, my dear friend Henri Canino, a member of Theatre Sarnia and brilliantly gifted in all things theatre, attended two rehearsals last week to play polish.

Play polishing happens a few weeks before opening and it is an opportunity for the cast and crew to have a fresh set of eyes look at a production after weeks of work and offer their perspective.

This is an ideal time to try things slightly differently or look intensely at what we in the theatre community call “sticky bits”, those stubborn spots where the energy seems to inexplicably drop or something else that just doesn’t hit the mark can be tweaked prior to the final push to get to opening night.

It was a wonderful learning experience for the entire team and we are hitting the final 3 weeks of rehearsal with a bounce in our step and every confidence that this show will move you!

I also invited my friend and the playwright, Carol Murray. For a cast to be able to speak with the playwright about the show they are creating is a rare and incredibly valuable experience.

They had an opportunity to chat with Carol prior to rehearsal and again afterwards and I have to say, there was not a dry eye among them. Carol was touched and thrilled with their portrayal of “her girls” and the cast was honoured with the opportunity to discuss their vision of her play and the impact it has had on them as actors and people.

Now to JC Wright who has been involved in theatre since she was 8 years old, has a BFA in acting and directing and has been a member of Theatre Kent since 1999. JC has directed for a number of theatre companies in the area over the last several years and the role of Irene has been her first opportunity in over 12 years to strictly act in a show.

I asked JC how she felt about being able to focus on one responsibility in a show and, not surprisingly, she loves it.

I went on to ask her about the character.

JC stated that she is madly in love with the character of Irene Farmer. The beauty of playing Irene for JC is that she is, in some ways very different from who JC is.

She is flighty and a little over the top, although upon reflection JC admitted that she can be over the top as well.

Irene is incredibly loving and, while she can be annoying, she manages to ingratiate herself to the Ryan family and becomes, as Carol Murray said, the glue that holds everyone else together. Wright notes that Irene is, above all else, a care giver to everyone else in the story.

She comes in as a friend to Kate (Maggy’s sister and the subject of a future column) and becomes the caregiver to the mother of the girls.

Among the most rewarding parts of playing Irene is her evolution as a character.

In her initial scene she is humourous and annoying at the same time, followed quickly by a very emotional moment that Irene recovers from quickly.

While Irene is the only outsider in this show, she becomes a key figure in the lives of the other three, providing a healthy dose of love and comic relief.

JC enjoys that Irene has so much love to give observing that she is one of the only characters she has ever had the chance to play who is just genuinely happy. Irene is unapologetically real and authentic always and that is an interesting character trait to explore as well.

When asked why she would recommend coming to see this show JC stated that this is a show about family.

While there are other issues, including a strong story line about Alzheimers and the impact of the disease on loved ones and Maggy has her own set of struggles, the show is the story of a family that has had an historic tragedy befall them and the coping mechanisms and indominable love that fights to be sustained beyond that. Audiences will laugh, perhaps shed a tear or two and experience a number of emotions as this show is “a really good piece of theatre and an awesome opportunity to see something that is just a little bit different for Chatham”.

Her final thoughts when asked what the most rewarding part of being in this show is, “being able to be on stage with three women that I truly love… where there is no ego… everyone is in it for the end result and we are just having so much fun, despite the intensity of the show. I think everyone needs to see this show.

I think everyone will enjoy it for different reasons.”

Tickets are available online at cktickets.com or by calling the Chatham Cultural Centre Box Office (519) 354-8338

To see the full interviews, check out the YouTube videos starting with https://youtu.be/Npcu5-iWxAg

- Advertisment -