At its heart, it is a really human story, says director Ian Fenwick.
UFV Theatre presents Age of Arousal, a new play by Canadian theatre artist, Linda Griffiths.
“The characters are trying to find their place in society,” Fenwick says. “I thought it would be an excellent play to do this year.”
The story line follows a suffragette named Mary, who runs a typing school with her younger lover, Rhoda. They take on three siblings as their students – spinsters Virginia, Alice and their sensual sister Monica – and find their rules and ambitions challenged at every turn.
When Mary’s cousin Everard arrives, discoveries of passion, marriage, and the rights and roles of women are “bursting like corsets with unbridled desire.”
“In terms of their rules being challenged, the school owners were trying to train women to become secretaries to enter the job market and take over some of the jobs traditionally held by men. But the spinsters never had that challenge and were trained to be subservient. That’s where they want these women to be something else.”
The play is a “lavish, sexy ensemble piece” set in Victorian times when women outnumbered men by the thousands.
Fenwick was drawn to the play after working on a scene with a student at one point, and also saw the play when it was presented in Vancouver.
“So I got a hold of it, I read, and I loved it,” he said.
Griffiths also wrote and appeared in 1980s play, Maggie and Pierre, about the Trudeaus.
Age of Arousal features a cast of six student actors and more than 20 students backstage gaining valuable skills.
Fenwick chose the Griffiths play as the second production of the theatrical season, which is usually a small cast production by a Canadian artist.
“I think she has a really interesting take on people finding their identity, in their careers but also their sexuality,” the director notes.
“She’s done a really good job of trying to understand the different generations, as well as genders.”
Age of Arousal runs January 8 – 26, 2014 at the UFV Theatre located at 45635 Yale Road in Chilliwack. There are two half-price previews on Wednesday, January 8 and Thursday, January 9. Opening night is Friday, January 10 and 7:30 p.m. performances continue on January 11, 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, and 25; there are two matinees at 2 p.m. on Sunday January 19 and 26; there is one weekday matinee at 12 noon on Friday, January 17. Ticket prices range from $11-$23 plus service fees and are available online at UFV.ca/theatre or through the UFV Theatre box office at 604-795-2814 and email@example.com.