The Good BrideWhen: Feb. 27 to March 9Where: Firehall Arts CentreTickets: from $20 at firehallartscentre.caJesus FreakWhen: March 1 to 23Where: Pacific TheatreTickets: from $20 at pacifictheatre.orgTwo plays about faith are coming to Vancouver theatres at nearly the same time. But Rosemary Rowe’s The Good Bride and Peter Boychuk’s Jesus Freak come at the theme from very different angles.For her one-woman play, Rowe looks at the beliefs of a community of Christian women who wait for God to deliver a groom. In Jesus Freak, a young woman comes home to her liberal, secular family with the news that she has converted.“She has an almost-mystical experience, and that starts the train of events,” said Kaitlin Williams, who plays Clara Campbell, the new Christian, in the B.C.-set Jesus Freak.“She’s at university, and is finding herself disillusioned with talking about problems in the world, but that’s as far as it goes. Then she starts attending a church and finds people who are actually trying to do good, they’re outward-looking instead of inward-looking. And that inspires her.”Williams stars opposite Katharine Venour as the mom, and Brandon Bate as the brother. Pacific Theatre artistic director Ron Reed plays the Campbell family patriarch.“He digs in his heels,” Williams said. “They have a very close relationship, and this challenges it for sure.” All three family members have their issues, she says. “The brother is gay, and he is quite hurt that she’s chosen to join what he perceives as a camp of people who are bigoted towards him.”Jesus Freak is a world premiere; The Good Bride has played Edmonton and Calgary and won the 2016 Elizabeth Sterling Haynes Award for Outstanding New Play. In the Alley Theatre production, Marisa Emma Smith (who is also co-producer) plays Maranatha, who is described as “a spunky 15-year-old Quiverful Christian girl made to wait alone, day after day, for the arrival of her 28-year-old groom.”The Quiverfull movement is made up of fundamentalist Baptists who believe that children are a blessing from God and don’t believe in practicing birth control. The most famous Quiverfull family, says Vancouver-based playwright Rosemary Rowe, is the Duggars, stars of the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting. “They really followed the letter of the law there,” she said. “That’s part of their strategy, to spread the word of God through sheer numbers.”
Kaitlin Williams plays a young woman who shocks her family when she converts to Christianity in Peter Boychuk’s Jesus Freak, which runs from March 1 to 23 at the Pacific Theatre. Photo courtesy of Emily Cooper.
Emily Cooper /
After becoming interested in the movement, Rowe discovered a Quiverfull community of young women who decide to become “stay-at-home-daughters.” They live with their parents and wait for God to bring them a husband.Both The Good Bride and Jesus Freak try to demystify “the other.” In Jesus Freak, Clara’s family has to burst through its bubble to accept their daughter.“It’s easier to push people aside,” Williams said. “The brilliance of the show is that it asks, what do you do when that person is sitting down for dinner with you, and they’re in your family? Do you want to be right, or do you want to be in a relationship with your family member?”For Rowe, whose lesbian lifestyle would be out of favour (to put it mildly) with the community depicted in The Good Bride, it’s a matter of empathizing with her character, and of making her choices understandable to audiences.“They (the Quiverfull stay-at-home-daughters) were almost a different species, with completely different ideas, and their lives were guided by a different set of values than mine,” Rowe said.After some failed attempts, she found her way into the play through the real-life story of a 15-year-old girl who was engaged to a 28-year-old man she had known since she was 12.Before the wedding, the girl’s family sent her to family friends. There, in her wedding dress and with her suitcase, she waited every day from 3 p.m. to midnight for her groom to come.“As a premise, it was so appealing,” Rowe said. “This 15-year-old girl in her wedding dress, waiting to get married and start the next phase of her life — what would she think about? What would she go through waiting for this to happen?”