TNB’s ‘The Dollar Woman’ comes to STU’s Black Box

The cast of Theatre New Brunswick’s The Dollar Woman, written by Alden Nowlan and Walter Learning. Front: (L-R) Georgia Brown, Jane Wheeler, Darrell Mesheau, Jacob LeBlanc. Back: (L-R) Jeffrey Bate Boerop, Ian Goff, Graham Percy, Walter Learning, Wally MacKinnon, Marshall Button, Robbie O’Neill, and Nora Sheehan. (Photo by Jill Scalpen)

St. Thomas University students are making their mark on the Theatre New Brunswick stage, telling a grim and controversial New Brunswick tale called The Dollar Woman, which opens tomorrow.

“I have found that in acting, and in many other things, when you are working with people with more experience you tend to step-up your game to match their performance,” said second-year STU student Ian Goff.

The Dollar Woman, written by Alden Nowlan and Walter Learning, tells a century-old tale of a small New Brunswick town auctioning off their poor to the lowest bidder. Theatre New Brunswick artistic producer Caleb Marshall said, “it’s a complicated mesh of morality and motivations.”

The show hosts an impressive all-New Brunswick cast, including two of STU’s own actors who have managed to tackle a professional and gripping production in their own way.

“The play itself is very moving and intense, which will hopefully make people aware of this strange and surprising part of our history,” said Goff. “It’s crazy to think that these things happened in Sussex.”

The production demands time and commitment – something that Goff said he is no stranger to.

“I knew from the very beginning that I would have to sacrifice to be part of it. It’s all about priorities.”

Fourth-year STU student Georgia Brown said she understands what this production means for her acting career and appreciates the time and commitment that is demanded of her.

“This has been one of the most incredible opportunities; to be able to work closely with some of the best talent New Brunswick and Canada has to offer,” she said. “I feel really lucky that I’m able to be a part of it.”

Brown has been a part of TNB since she was nine years old, but this is her first professional production. She plays the role of Nancy Jacobs, a young, simple character with little hope for a future. Brown’s character also happens to be the last woman sold for a dollar.

The Dollar Woman takes us to the Sussex area in the 1880s, where there’s a conflict of interest between a well-off, well-intentioned overseer and a newspaper editor determined for the very last auction.

Nowlan and Learning’s show was last performed by TNB in 1977 and cast awe and bewilderment among the sold out audiences. Thirty-five years later the show is celebrated with a cast all native to New Brunswick.

Ilkay Silk, director of drama at STU, is thrilled to be directing the show. Having worked with Goff and Brown previously, Silk said the pair really understand the culture of New Brunswick.

“I like the fact that two STU students who are considering a career in performing arts are in the cast and are getting experience with a group of professionals,” she said.

The cast and crew have been working on the production for two weeks and are very excited to portray these unknown and tragic events.

“The characters are all very human, which makes the play accessible to the people watching it,” said Goff.

Tickets for Theatre New Brunswick’s production of  The Dollar Woman are available at the Fredericton Playhouse Box Office for $25 for adults, $10 for students with McCain ticket pricing. The show runs Feb. 29-March 4 in St. Thomas’s Black Box Theatre.

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