Martin Guerre marries drama and music

Rotunda Theatre features the combined school’s inaugural production

Maddy Scovil as Bertrande onstage during The House of Martin Guerre.
Image supplied by: Supplied by Tim Fort
Maddy Scovil as Bertrande onstage during The House of Martin Guerre.

Queen’s new School of Drama and Music put on its first major production — The House of Martin Guerre — with great success. 

“There seemed to be a good reason to celebrate our new collaboration, which has turned us into the School of Drama and Music… [it] seemed logical to bring drama and music together,” Professor Tim Fort said. Fort directed the play. 

The School of Music and Department of Drama officially merged on July 1, 2015. The play, based on a true story from the 16th century, featured a 19-person cast and a crew of over 80 people. 

It follows the story of Martin Guerre and his wife Bertrande, after he deserts her and appears to return eight years later. 

Though the play is called Martin Guerre, it’s true focus is Bertrande, played by Maddy Schaefer Scovil, ArtSci ’16. Scovil’s performance was excellent, as was her voice. The musical, composed by Leslie Arden, tells the entire story through song, which allowed Scovil and the rest of the cast to showcase their vocal talent. 

At times, amateur musicals value singing talents over acting talent to the detriment of the show. Although there were a few moments that fell flat, the cast as a whole was well-rounded. The first-year actors in the production were particularly noteworthy. 

“In this cast we have a bunch of first years, and seeing them transition into the university as well as the Queen’s Drama Department is so special to me,” Stage Manager Amelia Alie, ArtSci ’16, said. 

“You see them come into the space a little reserved, but by the end of the production you see their true personality, you see them grow so much and you see them so much more comfortable in the theatre environment at Queen’s, and it’s one of the most amazing things to watch.”

The play’s crew must also be given credit. The play, designed primarily by director Tim Fort, used detailed lighting designs to create a variety of spaces out of a simple set. Fort, however, gives credit to his crew. 

“I design a basic framework … and all my production people finish it off because they’re better at it than I am,” he said. 

Fort said opportunities for a director and crew to collaborate on a project are unusual — creative teams often hand over a design for a crew to build — but it’s clear it worked well in The House of Martin Guerre. The show had a few technical difficulties, but the props, costume, lighting and sound crews played individual and important roles in creating a great finished product. 

As for the nature of the show? It appears no one can agree on how to classify it, except say it’s an intriguing piece that leaves audiences thinking. 

“It’s an incredibly powerful piece,” Alie said. “I think it’s one of those pieces that makes you think back on the story and how it actually happened in real life.” 

The House of Martin Guerre runs from Nov 5 to 15 in The Rotunda Theatre. 

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