Be Still by Janet Munsil
A fictional play inspired by the multiple-exposure work of surrealist portrait photographer Hannah Maynard. Consumed by grief at the loss of her daughter, Hannah submerges herself in morbid photographic work and the clockwork routines of daily life with her husband. Intrigued by a friend's Spiritualist leanings, Hannah questions mysterious goings-on in her studio, and wonders if a reunion with her child is possible. But the ghostly presence she encounters is her own double, Hannah 2.
Produced by Richmond Gateway / Belfry Theatre, Vancouver/Victoria, BC.Jessie Nominations: Best New Play (Small theatre), Sydney Risk Award for Outstanding Original Script by an Emerging Playwright“Captures beautifully the Victorian obsession with death and the afterlife. It's a spookily sweet nightmare , of grief suppressed to the verge of hysteria. Be Still expresses an often breathtaking vision.” — TIMES COLONIST“Munsil's new play is written from an 1890s sensibility: an era on the brink of amazing scientific advances yet still attracted to the occult: seances, apparitions, mediums.” — VANCOUVER COURIER
Keywords: Photography, surrealism, visual theatre, doppleganger, grief, mourning, women artists, historical figures, Victoria era
Run time: 75 minutes
Content note: Events in the play are connected with the death of a child two years prior.
The premiere production featured a brief opening scene of nudity, while subsequent productions have used clothing (either a nightdress, or full costume) in this scene. The playwright is amenable to the solutions/interpretations found for each production.
Cast size: 6 actors
Male roles: 3
Female roles: 7
Doubling: Richard /Constable
Doubling: Mattie/ Maudie/Kitty/and Belle
Dr Fell may be played by a woman.
Lily is played by a child.