Behind the Scenes: Little Women
To me, this story has a beautiful kaleidoscopic effect. When you meet these characters at a different time in your life, the images shift; relationships and moments that slipped by you previously come into focus in brilliant, moving detail. The words are the same, but you are different; therefore the story is, too. For those of us who worked on the 2005 production, we’ve all experienced this. We’ve seen and felt new things, shaped by how we’ve grown – who we’ve become – since we last visited the world of Jo and her family. It’s wondrous and exciting, to realize how our perspective shifts, how capable are brains and hearts are, of growing, increasing, transforming.
Given this, the show has something for everyone, even for those who’ve seen it before – and it’s great for families, for mixes of generations, because there’s something for all stages of life. For children who are so rich in imagination, always ready to play and make-believe; for young adults new to love, marriage and all its complications; for those of us who are caretakers, grappling with the inevitable loss of loved ones; for parents (and grandparents!) who recognize, and share, the gifts of hard-earned wisdom.
What’s more, this show is a great reminder of the potential of this holiday season. When families gather, it’s powerful: our capacity to love one another despite our faults, our ways of supporting and inspiring one another to become the best
version of ourselves. It’s a time of rest and celebration, yes, but also of transformation, and renewal.
These are the ideas that inspired the design and staging of our brand-new production. Rooted in Jo’s power to create and transform herself and the world around her, we begin simply, with the image of Jo at her writing desk, a single lantern in the darkness, the artist imagining how to fill the empty page. As she writes, people pour onto the stage, their voices, and stories emerging from the shadows, growing brighter and more distinct as Jo’s storytelling gains force. And with this, there’s the potent juxtaposition of the warm heart of the March household, and the darker realities of the Civil War battlefront.
This tension between hopefulness and despair lingers throughout, which feels so true to me – because
that’s life, isn’t it? And always, that ineffable human ability to make something out of nothing, whether that’s weaving a story seemingly out of thin air, or how capable we are of finding the plenty in the scarcity; that way we have of finding something to share and celebrate, even when it seems we have very little.
It is our stories, and our relationships, that make us rich. And it is my hope that audiences will leave the theatre thinking about this, about the countless little gifts and privileges that surround us. “What do I have to celebrate? What do I have to share?” Likely more than you think…
Julie McIsaac, Director