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The Bitterest Time: The War Story of Mona Parsons

  • Marigold Cultural Centre 605 Prince Street Truro, NS, B2N 1G2 Canada (map)

Regular - $30
Student - $20

LunaSea Theatre, in collaboration with SarAndipity Theatre, is bringing the true story of Nova Scotia’s unsung war hero Mona Parsons to stages across Nova Scotia this September. The Bitterest Time: The War Story of Mona Parsons , written by Sarah Jane Blenkhorn and Andria Hill-Lehr and directed by LunaSea’s Ryanne Chisholm, will have its world premiere in Wolfville, Nova Scotia before touring venues from Pictou to Halifax, September 10-23.

The Bitterest Time presents Parsons’ Resistance work in the Netherlands under the Nazi Occupation, her arrest and years in German prisons, her daring escape in 1945, and her journey back to Holland, where, in an astonishing coincidence, the first Allied soldiers she meets are from the North Nova Scotia Highlanders! The play also focuses on the shared experiences of women in wartime, showing women who choose collaboration as a means of survival, women who lose almost everything they own and love, women who embrace cruelty and power over others, and women who reach out to support each other and find ways to survive.

The Bitterest Time conveys an epic story of courage and survival, focusing on the small details of overcrowded prisons, tiny flights of hope and breathless escapes. Mona, kept in isolation, talks to her absent family and even the rats, sustaining herself with the poetry and songs she loved and escapist flights of imagination – from nostalgic Canadian winters to the sequins and lights of New York - as she fights to survive and keep her sense of self. When she befriends a young Dutch resistance fighter, the two women form a powerful bond that enables them to survive and even escape together.

Mona’s story is extraordinary, but it was almost forgotten. Hill-Lehr’s chance discovery of a newspaper article about Mona led to years of research culminating in the book Mona Parsons: From Privilege to Prison, from Nova Scotia to Nazi Europe , recently re-released by Nimbus Publishing, as well as the 2017 erection of a bronze sculpture of Mona in Wolfville. LunaSea Theatre is a Halifax company with a decade of theatre production behind it “that seeks to give voice to women’s stories and perspectives and to showcase the rich diversity of female theatrical artists.” The company has recently produced the world premieres of Leaving Wonderland by Shelley Thompson and Les and Dawn by Jake Willett, and staged a reading of The Legend of Sugar Mary by Mary-Colin Chisholm, which made its debut on the Eastern Front stage this spring. SarAndipity Theatre is a theatre group founded to develop works that tell the stories of Canadian women.

Chisholm stresses the value of Mona’s story: “This is an amazing story about a female war hero from Nova Scotia, yes, but it is also about women and war. Not only have we not seen this specific story on the stage, but we have also rarely had any stories about this destructive time in our history that focus on women.”

The Bitterest Time is presented with funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and Nova Scotia Communities Culture and Heritage, and the support of the Wolfville Historical Society.

Earlier Event: August 17
A Musical Evening