A female perspective

Sally Cole
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Actors in The Mothers of Confederation Tea take a break from rehearsals for the show that takes place on May 19 at Kings Playhouse in Georgetown. From left are Julie Haddow who plays Mercy Haines Coles, Kendall Robbins (Elizabeth Lee Owen), Julie Pellissier-Lush (Susan Pennefather) and Shawna MacDonald (Isabella Tremain).

The Mothers of Confederation Tea, a humorous new play at the Kings Playhouse, presents alternative take on the 1864 Conference

Have you ever wondered what the wives were doing while the Fathers of Confederation were attending the Charlottetown Conference in 1864?

The Kings Playhouse in Georgetown has one possible answer and is sharing it through a new play.

Written by Jonah Anderson, the Mothers of Confederation Tea takes a humorous — and fictional — look at women making decisions concerning the forming of the nation. The show premieres at Kings Playhouse in Georgetown on May 19.

“In the play, the mothers have rowed themselves out to the ship (that the delegates came on). And, they’re sitting in the cabin having a secret meeting about what they think Confederation should be. And they’re holding high tea,” says Julie Haddow.

As actors lift delicate china cups, audience members will be served a light luncheon of finger sandwiches and broccoli almond salad, as well as scones, lemon curd and tea.

“It’s all the things that you would expect to be served at high tea,” says Haddow who plays Mercy Haines Coles, the wife of George Coles.

While the late P.E.I. politician is known for being hot-tempered and having a love for duelling, not a lot is known about his wife.

“That’s what makes Mercy so fun to play,” says Haddow, adding audience members are invited to dress up if they wish to.

“Two years ago people dressed up for another successful tea we held and it was fun.”

Kendall Robbins is also wearing a costume in the show. She plays Elizabeth Lee Owen, the wife of Andrew Archibald MacDonald, the Georgetown representative at the time.

“It’s cool to play someone who lived in this area, way back then. And it’s fun to learn about the history. And, for me the biggest challenge is learning to walk in my dress,” says Robbins, with a laugh.

Music will also play an important role in the afternoon.

“We’re also going to hear violinist Anna Ega and singer Taylor Johnson, accompanied by Danny MacAulay. For jazz lovers, there’s the Locust Street Trio featuring Neil Knudson on trumpet and flugelhorn, Mike Page, guitar and vocals, and Ken Shelton, percussion,” says Haddow.

The idea for the musical-theatrical afternoon came about during a brainstorming session.

“We were thinking about ideas for the 2014 celebrations. We wanted to do something that was historical and fun. We had produced a successful tea and a skit two years ago. And we thought it would be fun to do something about the mothers,” she says.

So, the theatre put out a call for outlines for 15-minute humorous skit based on the 1864 theme.

“We had several people submit synopses for scripts. And, in the end we chose Jonah’s because we felt it fit best with our idea.

“So he wrote the script. And now we’re having a lot of fun putting it on.”


Sally Cole is an entertainment writer with The Guardian. She welcomes comments about her column as well as suggestions for future columns from readers. She may be reached at scole@theguardian.pe.ca or by phone at 629-6000, ext. 6054.



At A Glance

If you are going

- What: The Mothers of Confederation Tea

- When and where: Kings Playhouse, Georgetown, May 19, 1 p.m.

- Box office: Seating is limited so tickets must be purchased in advance. For more information call 652-2053.

Organizations: Mothers of Confederation Tea, The Guardian

Geographic location: Georgetown, Charlottetown

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