THUNDER BAY, ON ---- October 23, 2010 ---- Magnus Theatre’s current production, “Tempting Providence” tells a remarkable story. Newfound & Labradors nurse Myra Bennett is a story of dedication, commitment and outright courage. Perhaps it is true that truth is stranger than fiction.
This year marks the international year of the Nurse. My companion for the evening happens to be a nurse and she was fully prepared for a great nursing story. Magnus Theatre delivered the goods. The story begins with Myra Grimsby’s (played by Deidre Gillard-Rowlings) arrival in out-port Newfoundland in the 1920’s. She was born, raised and educated in England where she also nursed for 10 years. When hearing of the urgent need for nursing care in Saskatchewan she headed to Canada. Somewhere along the line she was convinced to come to Newfoundland where the need for care was even more urgent.
At the outset the strong willed nurse faced several challenges. It was difficult for her to gain acceptance with the local people. At this time in Newfoundland few people had an education, so she learned how to darn socks, tend gardens and bake bread to gain the acceptance of the local women.
Then there was the challenge of being the only nurse and health professional on 200 mile of rugged Newfoundland coast. Clearly this job was not for the faint of heart. Her biggest challenge was what to do about Angus Bennett (played by Darryl Hopkins). Her training had prepared her for the rigours of nursing in coastal Newfoundland but she was intimidated about the challenges of married life. Needless to say she excelled at this raising three children of her own as well as being foster mother to four other children. As time progressed her two year contract became extended over and over.
While Deidre Gillard-Rowlings and Darryl Hopkins cover the central roles of this play the roles played by Renée Hacket as the woman and by Robert Wyatt Thorne as the “Men” in the play had the important task of representing all of the people in outpost Newfoundland and Labrador in the 1920’s.
So we have a love story, a nursing story, and a story of a great nurse whose efforts became the stuff of legend. She was a pioneer of public nursing in Canada and this play is a fitting tribute to all Nurses in this the International year of the Nurse.
The story is told by playwright Robert Chafe and directed by Jillian Keiley. Karen Griffin is the stage manager. The entire cast are experienced members of Theatre Newfoundland, and they have many performances of this play behind them. Once again Magnus Theatre has managed to bring first rate actors with a first rate play to our marvellous facilities. Professional Theatre does not get any better than this.
One remarkable thing about this play is the set. Like nurse Myra Bennett it is simple and straight forward and it can do all the tasks that a set should do. Watch this play and you will see a master-class in creative staging. It consists of a table a set of four matching chairs and a sheet. The constant manipulation of these items on stage demonstrates the creative genius of this production.
The play is worth seeing for several reasons. First of all it is a true story. The production is a great event to treat your favourite nurse and they will be sure to enjoy the play. Be nice to nurses since you never know when you will need one. The play demonstrates the courage and strength of our pioneers, so when we view a play like this we see a bit of our own history. Go see this it is a great show!
For tickets call the box office at 807-345-5552. Prices range from $14.75 to $38.50. Shows run evenings Monday to Saturday beginning at 8:00 pm and two matinee performances Wednesday at 12:00 pm and on Saturday at 2:00 pm. You can see “Tempting Providence” from October 21 to November 6, 2010.
Photos by Barry Wojechowski