TALKING NONSENSE ABOUT SALARIES FOR ACTRESSES By Barbara Biddison
So, it's 1942 and we're in the midst of the second world war, and all the men have gone. The director's wife, untested so far, has taken on the scheduled production of Shakespeare's HENRIAD (Henry the Fourth and Fifth combined), and the local women are going to take on the male roles. It occurs to the theatre group's Diva, that the men have always been paid for their acting, and now that the women are playing male roles they should be paid too. Of course, the too-old-for-war Mr. Snow, who controls the money, does not see it that way, until . . . .
Gradually the younger left-behind-women gather up the courage to audition. And when they are cast, they must deal with learning lines as well as knitting Victory Socks and organizing scrap metal drives and finding child care while they wait for letters from their husbands who are "over there." And Celeste, the Diva, continues to claim her role as Julliet (to, one presumes, a much younger Romeo) as justification for playing the younger Henry V instead of playing his older father Henry IV. But there's a guy who isn't "over there" and he's the Stage Manager who has to deal with questions about that. And the clever costume designer who may or may not end up on stage as well.
So many stories in this one play. It takes all of us into the breeches of one kind or another. What a journey it is! It opens in the Warehouse Theatre in a month. As Assistant I'm privileged to watch it grow, and to read certain parts when an actor cannot make a rehearsal. I'm getting to know these people who lived in a world quite different from ours now, but in many ways the same.