Sister Annunciata’s Secret – stumblethrough

Hey all – Since I had a previous engagement and couldn’t make it out to Alum member, actor Nonnie Griffin’s stumble-through of Sister Annunciata’s Secret last night, I asked Marketing Director Tina McCulloch if she could do the post for this. Here’s what she had to say:

Guest blogger here. Last night (Sept 2) I had the opportunity to attend the first full stumblethrough* of a one-woman play that will be a WORLD PREMIERE in October!  Veteran actor and author [her memoir Showbiz & Other Addictions is a fascinating look at thespian life in Canada] Nonnie Griffin has written a moving play based on a true story.  Titled Sister Annunciata’s Secret, it will premiere at the Annex Theatre in Toronto for one weekend only, October 22-24.  Tickets are $20, and can be reserved by calling 416-266-6095.

A flippant comment Nonnie once made to a fellow actor, “I might as well be a nun!” inspired his reminisces of an actual nun he’d known.  The story got Nonnie wondering what would have happened to her, and so Sister Annunciata’s Secret came to be written.  Dramaturged by Mat Howard, who directed Nonnie in The Queens at Alumnae Theatre back in April, Sister A will be directed by Darlene Spencer, who (in yet another Alumnae connection) appeared in Tremblay’s For The Pleasure of Seeing Her Again at Alumnae in 2007.

In the play, Sister Annunciata is a Catholic nun and piano teacher in Halifax in the 1930’s, who makes a serious transgression of her vows.  And I think that’s all I’ll say about the plot!

Despite the distractions and discomforts of a steamy-hot evening and traffic noises coming from windows in the rehearsal space open to catch any stray breeze, Nonnie kept her focus and portrayed the multiple characters (guilt-tortured nun, young piano student, a Scottish psychotherapist, and the nun’s beloved brother, among others) with admirable commitment and delineation.  I had read the script, and sat in on an early rehearsal of the first half, about a month ago, but the progress since then was remarkable: she made the words and the characters – many of which I hadn’t seen before – come alive.

Also at the stumble-through were the set designer (Trevor Haldane), sound & light designer (Mason Coulter), and stage manager (Julia Mathieson), and of course director Darlene Spencer.  I saw sketches of the set design, and it will be gorgeous, placed in the lovely Annex Theatre with its two staircases curving down to the stage. 

So mark your calendars for the weekend before Hallowe’en, and come see the finished product – the theatre’s located on Bathurst St. just south of Bloor in Toronto.  Performances are at 8pm on Friday and Saturday, and at 2pm on Sunday.

* as explained in a previous post by the regular bloggergal, “stumblethrough” is theatre lingo for the first time that a cast runs through the entire play – it’s normally rehearsed in segments.  Fumbling for lines or some messy blocking is expected, but it’s always exciting to see the show taking shape, and there are often hints of the magic to come.


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