It's been exactly 100 years since Canada's first birth control advocacy group was created right here in Vancouver, a few weeks since the province announced that birth control prescriptions would be free in BC starting April 1, and it’s also just a couple of weeks before What a Young Wife Ought to Know brings the topic of reproductive health to the stage.
"It's 2023, and yet women's body autonomy is thrown into question, yet again,” actor Charlotte Wright said in a release. “We've moved three years forward and yet a hundred years back. We are bringing to life a story and a topic that is both 100 years old and happening all over again, right in front of us."
What a Young Wife Ought to Know takes audiences a full century back in time to Ottawa in the 1920s, following the life of a young working-class girl named Sophie. She's had two difficult childbirths and warning from doctors that a third would be dangerous—without offering any information about how to prevent it, ultimately leading to another life-threatening pregnancy.
Playwright Hannah Moscovitch--whose recent works include Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes and Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story--premiered the story at Halifax’s Neptune Theatre in 2015 with 2b Theatre. Moscovitch was inspired by the stories of mothers of the early 20th century during Canada’s birth control movement, channeling those real-life struggles into the play’s central dilemma. Now Excavation Theatre will be performing the play’s first BC production, under the direction of Jessica Anne Nelson.
The three-person cast has Bronwyn Henderson as working-class mother Sophie, Michael Briganti as stable-hand/husband Jonny, and Wright as Alma, Sophie’s big sister.
“The play is a tornado that sweeps the characters and audience along for the story, never once slowing down or shying away from the hard and tragic truths of what can happen when someone must take their sexual/reproductive health into their own hands,” Nelson said in the release.
“I’m excited to bring a story about the need for a [person’s] right to choose, the right for access to proper reproductive and sexual health, to the stage with such a talented and passionate group of artists.”
What a Young Wife Ought to Know will run from March 24 to April 1 at Granville Island’s Performance Works. Tickets are available online for $30.