When artistic director of The Theatre on King (TTOK) Ryan Kerr held open auditions for this season’s crop of shows, he was greatly impressed by the talents of 13-year-olds Samuelle Weatherdon and Lydia Etherington.
No strangers to Peterborough theatre, the girls gave two outstanding auditions, but Ryan didn’t have anything at the time that required girls of their age.
So instead of allowing such talent slip out the doors without anything, Ryan searched for a play to showcase Sam and Lydia’s talents and give them the spotlight on the TTOK stage. The show he chose is American poet’s Hortense Flexner 1916 play Voices, which runs from September 15th to 17th.
A discourse on war, women and legacy, Flexner wrote Voices while World War I still raged across Europe. A young girl named Yvonne (Lydia Etherington) returns to her home in Domremy, France to find the village decimated by war. Seeking solace at a ruined church erected to Joan of Arc, who historically came from Domremy, Yvonne kneels to pray when she suddenly encounters another young girl brooding in the ruins (Samuelle Weatherdon).
The two girls discuss the legacy of Saint Joan from different angles, with Yvonne worshipping her for her bravery in war and her legendary death, while the other talks about Joan as a normal girl who was in over her head. The result is a haunting deconstructionist character study of Joan of Arc in a passionate short play.
A thought-provoking piece, Voices is a short production which runs under a half an hour. However, the cast rounds out the evening by reading selections of Flexner’s poetry.
Voices allows Ryan to work with two wonderful actresses who have a promising career in theatre. Both girls play off each other with a combination of sensitivity and vibrant energy, and bring something all their own to the TTOK stage. It’s wonderful to be able to visit TTOK and see two actresses this young doing high-caliber theatre with believable conviction.
Sam Weatherdon has become one of my favorite young performers in Peterborough over the past two years. First meeting her when she was working with Charles Shamess’ last two children’s Christmas shows at The Peterborough Theatre Guild, Sam also appeared in 4th Line Theatre’s Gimme That Prime Time Religion and Ryan Kerr’s production of Waiting for Godot.
Meanwhile, Lydia Etherington has been writing and directing her own stage shows since she was a young girl. She has had many of them produced in the Showplace Performance Centre’s Nexicom Studio with the assistance of many notable Peterborough performers.
To have these two talented girls together at TTOK is a true treat.
Ryan Kerr really found something amazing for these girls to perform, and it’s a wonderful way for the Peterborough theatre community to come and see first-rate young talent at work.
While Voices is a quick and compact production at under an hour, it makes a perfect chaser to start off wherever you need to be this weekend. I’d encourage everybody in the theatre community, and those who support it, to stop by TTOK this weekend and see Sam and Lydia in Voices. It really is something special.
Voices runs from Thursday September 15th to Saturday September 17th at The Theatre on King in downtown Peterborough. Tickets are $10 or pay what you can.