Daughters of Mile End at the DB Clarke Theatre
The Holocaust lingers in the background of their lives –the newcomers are survivors of that horrific episode of the 20th century– and then, there are the uncertainties of the new period in their lives these immigrants are about to start, in Montreal, more precisely in the then and now multiethnic and multicultural district of Mile End. These are the stories that spectators will experience in the play “Daughters of Mile End” to be presented this coming week. “Audiences will recognize themselves in the characters as they journey through more than fifty years of engrossing reunions. With this wonderful all-female cast, including four remarkable young girls, the production travels well beyond the borders of reminiscence and nostalgia” reads the press release of the play quoting its director.
The play will be presented by Labyrinth Stage Productions (LSP), a Montreal-based company co-founded by Claudia Litvak Polachek and Pearl Lottner Rothenberg in 2016 with the goal of producing original English Canadian plays. The co-founders are also the authors of this new production “about four Mile End girls and the diverse paths their lives take as they grow into adulthood and beyond. The all-female multi-generational cast of thirteen is under the direction of Rachelle Glait, with set and costume designs by the multi-award winning John Dinning and Louise Bourret respectively.”
“I’m nervous but at the same time very excited about the play,” said Avah Pennefather, the 10-year-old actress in the play whom I had the chance to interview this week while preparing this piece on this play. Another member of the cast, seasoned theatre performer Evy Solomon, remarked that, for her, the play was “very meaningful at a personal level.”
The young Avah plays Elizabeth, who, she says “is very precise. Her mother annoys her, she wants her daughter to be perfect.” This is the first major acting work for her, Avah told us. The young player is also a singer and a dancer, she studies at Edinburgh Elementary School, where she said: “has very good teachers who support her.” When I asked about whether she would consider a future career in the performing arts, she said that “still has to think about it.” About working with the other women, older than her, she told us that it has been a good experience and that the “women are strong role models.”
For Evy Solomon, this play “resonates personally,” since she is also a daughter of Holocaust survivors, in particular, her father who was in a concentration camp. “Mile End was a place where many new Jewish immigrants settled after the war, they eventually moved to other parts of the city, but it was in those streets, Bernard, Park Ave., where the children used to get together” said Evy Solomon. “I have fond memories of the place.”
Is there an element of nostalgia I asked: “For the era, for that period in which these experiences took place, although at the same time all those experiences were very different” she said, “the innocence” she added about another element of that nostalgia.
“Daughters of Mile End” will be presented from Friday, April 5 to Saturday, April 6 at 8 p.m. at the DB Clarke Theatre, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. West (Concordia University, Downtown Campus), tickets are $49. For additional information visit www.labyrinthstageproductions.ca