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'Radical female representation' onstage in New Westminster

Catch Mozart and Her Brother at Anvil Theatre Friday and Saturday.
Mozart and Brother WEB
Masae Day and Jenny Andersen star in Mozart and Her Brother, onstage at the Anvil Theatre this weekend in downtown New Westminster.

When you hear the name “Mozart,” chances are you don’t think of Nannerl.

But a new collective of music and theatre artists is working to change that.

The Geniusettes Collective is bringing the new production Mozart and Her Brother to the stage at Anvil Centre for its world première this weekend. It’s onstage Friday, May 20 and Saturday, May 21.

The show tells the story of musical genius Maria Anna Mozart, called Nannerl, and her precocious little brother, Wolfgang Amadeus, as they grow up touring the great cities of Europe.

A press release notes that, although she was a brilliant musician — and possibly even more skilled than her famous brother — Nannerl was eventually left behind by her family, and by history. It’s known that she, too, composed music, but no known copies have survived.

The show, created by Mark Weatherley and Masae Day and directed by Garrett Quirk, is performed by Day and Jenny Andersen — playing multiple characters, multiple instruments and whimsical arrangements of some of the greatest music ever written.

It combines classical music performance with comedy, clown, bouffon and physical theatre.

Reviving Nannerl’s story is in keeping with the mission of the collective, which is working to reclaim female representation in the arts.

The issue resonates for Day personally. As a young student of classical violin, she rarely saw herself reflected in the overwhelmingly male creators of the music she studied and loved.

She said she felt drawn to make the leap from performer to creator in part to correct that imbalance.

“I love watching the surprise and delight on people’s faces when they learn that Mozart had a brilliant sister,” she said in the release. “But I also feel sad, because Nannerl was never allowed to blossom and be recognized as an artist the way her brother was. Exploring Nannerl’s joy and passion for music has been cathartic, and we look forward to sharing the Mozart siblings’ irrepressible creativity with our audiences.”

Mozart and Her Brother has been in development since 2018, when Day approached Weatherley with her idea for a musical play.

“The pandemic has certainly thrown a wrench into our plans,” Day said. “But it has also made the story of an artist forced by circumstances to choose another path even more poignant and relevant. Radical storytelling like this seems to be what people need right now.”

In June, Day will return to the stage in another play committed to that same radical female representation: Rio Theatre’s Kill The Ripper, a new play telling the story of infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper from the perspective of the sex workers he was targeting.

“These two rebellious new plays are a clear demonstration that a return to business-as-usual won’t suffice for artists burnt out and radicalized by the pandemic, no longer willing to tolerate their careers and their stories being relegated to the margins,” the release says.

That play will also be onstage at Anvil Theatre, June 16 to 19.

Anvil Theatre: Get tickets for Mozart and Her Brother

Mozart and Her Brother is onstage at the Anvil Theatre, 777 Columbia St., this weekend (May 21 and 22). Shows are at 1 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. You can find tickets and information online.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
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