If you’re looking for some drama and mystery to balance the onslaught of seasonal cheer, perhaps a wintry ghost tale is just the cup of mead you need.
Veteran actress Tara Rosling is bringing her version of “The Mistletoe Bride” back to Silversmith brewery, Southbrook winery, and — new this year— to Oast House brewery this December. Jeanette Winterson’s somewhat gothic Christmas tale is full of darkness, shadows, and ambiguity.
Rosling, a Shaw alumn of 11 years, met director Peter Hinton while working with him on “When the Rain Stops Falling” in 2011. “We fell in love with each other’s work,” says Rosling, “and this is our love child.” Hinton chose the piece and the pair adapted it for performance. “We rehearsed it in crazy places, like a linen closet at the Shaw,” laughs Rosling.
She approached Chris Pontsioen, owner of Silversmith Brewing, about doing a theatrical reading of the piece in the “church” — “I loved the parallels with the story, which includes a convent where mead is made,” Rosling says. “Chris said, ‘Absolutely.’ And then he asked what a theatrical reading is,” she says, laughing again.
When the evening came for what was intended to be the first and only performance of the reading, Rosling looked over the full house at Silversmith and asked Pontsioen, “Do these people know they have to leave when the show starts?” He answered, “They’re here for the show.” In fact, the reading was so successful a second show had to be added later the same night for the people who had been turned away.
Silversmith has hosted the event every year since, with Southbrook joining along last year. This year Rosling has added Oast House’s hayloft as a third venue for the readings.
From its inception, all proceeds have been donated to Gillian’s Place, a women’s shelter in St. Catharines. “I chose Gillian’s Place because of the content of the story, which includes a woman’s regenesis — overcoming real darkness in her life, coming through to the light.”
To further honour the darkness-into-light theme, the performance at Oast House is set for December 21st, the day of the winter solstice.
Performances are generally pay-what-you-can — with Rosling literally passing a hat at the end of the performance — and $550 was raised the first year. Last year the actress donated $1650 to the charity. “I hope to generate the largest donation yet,” Rosling says of this, her fifth year of performing “The Mistletoe Bride.”
The actress is heading into her twelfth year with the Shaw, so is no stranger to performing the same show many times. Of this particular piece she says, “The words are there inside me, but they live in a different place each time. As I evolve as a person the words mean something different.” She adds, “I love the language, so deeply poetic — and I love the fact that the story is ambiguous.”
Each location offers a different experience. “I love it in the ‘church’ at Silversmith,” says Rosling. “They turn off all the fridges and any ambient sound, and the room is lit with candles. It’s a pretty thrilling experience.” Silversmith performances take place on Dec. 17 and 18.
At Southbrook on Dec. 7 there is the option to partake in a meal prepared by AG Inspired Cuisine, or to simply attend the pay-what-you-can reading. “The kitchen will be open at both breweries too, so come early and grab a bite,” says Rosling — but please put your cutlery down while she’s performing.
Those who can’t attend the readings but want to make donations of support can drop them off in the care of any of the three hosts of the events, or by sending an e-transfer to email@example.com.
Details and reservations can be found on Eventbrite.ca https://www.eventbrite.ca/, and on each venue’s website. Reservations are recommended — Silversmith reports there are few seats remaining.