Meet Mary-Ellen Perley – Vivian Bearing in W;t

ME HeadshotDSC_29361. Who are you?  I am Mary-Ellen Perley
2. What is your role in this play? I am playing Vivian Bearing a scholar of 17h century poetry, specifically the Holy Sonnets of John Donne. I don’t think I am giving anything away here to say that Vivian is dying of cancer and the play takes us on a journey to discover what is really important in life…. human kindness.
3. What is your background in theatre? At Walterdale? I am a retired English and Drama teacher who has written several plays for my students to perform over my teaching career. In addition, I have directed and acted in plays for Stage Struck, the one act festival. Further theatre activities include directing, stage managing and acting at Walterdale and for Two One-Way Tickets to Broadway and ELOPE.
4. What drew you to this production? When I knew that Walterdale was going to be producing W;t, I couldn’t wait to audition. The part of Vivian Bearing is a demanding role. The character’s journey is heart wrenching but ultimately up lifting. As Vivian herself says, “Never one to turn from a challenge.” I like to believe I also have this same spirit and determination.
5. What do you think audiences will take away from this production? I hope audiences will be enveloped in the world of Vivian Bearing and her journey of discovery about herself, others and the most important qualities of the human spirit. Though the subject matter of cancer is very serious, the play shows us all how important human kindness is in life and how it can provide strength and hope at the end of life.
6. Poetry plays a big role in this play, what is one of your favorite poems, and why? Can you share a few lines from it? This play I have many poems which I would call favourites. But one which speaks to me as the character of Vivian, though not one of John Donne’s would have to be a  section of “Ode to the West Wind” by Percy Bysshe Shelley.
 … “As thus with thee in prayer in my sore need./Oh lift me as a wave, a leaf, a cloud!/I fall upon the thorns of life!/I bleed!”
Although this is but a very small section of Shelley’s poem, I find the words comforting in times of stress and difficulty.

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