‘I Remember Mama’

Two North End residents and members of the Shoestring Players are taking part in a classic production to raise money for Hospitality House Refugee Ministry.

In May, the theatre group will be performing I Remember Mama, a play originally produced in 1944 by Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, at St. John’s Cathedral. The original production is a compilation of six short stories from Kathryn Forbes’ book Mama’s Bank Account, about a Norwegian immigrant family and their struggles coming to North America in the 1900s. The play has been adapted to be set in 1910 Winnipeg, a time when many immigrants arrived.

“Right at that time, Winnipeg was enjoying its great expansion and immigrants were pouring in from Europe,” said Peter Spencer, the play’s director.

I Remember Mama speaks to the struggles and experiences many newcomer families are going through, Spencer said. HHRM is a non-profit organization that sponsors refugees, provides housing and support for up to 12 people at a time. Although many parishes and donors have supported their work, Tom Denton, HHRM’s executive director, said help is always welcome.

“Hospitality House receives no government funding whatsoever, and relies entirely on the generosity of the community to keep its doors open to serve thousands of refugees over the past 30 years.”

The cast of 17 local artists has been rehearsing since the end of February. Spence said it’s a short time for such a big production. The church will be adapted to become the stage for I Remember Mama.

“I think we have a strong cast and it’s been a lot of work and frustration, but putting on a play is problem-solving basically. As you run into problems you try to solve them,” he explained. “There’s kind of a miracle in theatre. The miracle is that it all seems to come together in the end. People make enormous strides in learning their roles. You get on stage, and almost all of it comes together.”

North End resident Robert Butler has been creating costumes for the Shoestring Players for over 20 years and said dressing up characters plays an essential part in any production. He researches the era and the characters in the production and then goes through the Shoestring Players’ stock, as well as thrift shops and available fabrics, to create something that will support the characters.

“If the costume is not working on stage it can be distracting for the performance. The audience is watching and thinking ‘there’s something wrong with that.’” Butler said.

All performances will be held at St. John’s Cathedral (135 Anderson Ave.) daily from Tues., May 16 to Sat., May 20 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on Saturday starting at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $15 and may be reserved by calling 204-475-6821 or email lindameckling@gmail.com

(Source: the Times newspaper, May 27, 2017)


Join The Shoestring Players at the Cathedral May 16th through May 20th for their presentation of ‘I Remember Mama’. Proceeds from the play will benefit the Hospitality House Refugee Ministry.