For 30 years author, actor and playwright Berni Stapleton has been leaving audiences shaking with laughter as she shares her view on the world, this province and the people in it. Now Stapleton’s back with a vengeance in her new one woman show; A Broad’s Perspective
By Pam Pardy Ghent
Even her name is a delight to the tongue; Berni Stapleton. The woman herself is much the same; delightfully warm, friendly, and funny, even in the early morning hours. After hitting an easy chatting stride, we quickly agreed on one thing; we are both morning people.
‘‘I generally feel way more optimistic in the morning, so that’s a plus,” Stapleton begins with a chuckle.
Stapleton, who’s been writing comedy for over 30 years now, should be feeling optimistic as she heads back to the stage with her latest one woman show, A Broad’s Perspective.
The show, which will take place at Carbonear’s The Stone Jug on June 9, is a result of revisiting characters from the past.
digging and exploring
“If you go in my office, I have a filing cabinet, one of those tall old fashioned iron filing cabinets, and they are full of scripts and scenes I’ve written for Rising Tide (Theatre) and for all my one woman shows over the years. And I was looking at them all and I thought, what’s happening to all this material?”
Stapleton started digging and exploring and asking questions. “I was really trying to figure out how are they relevant to me today and how are they relevant to the world today? And they are. They are all women characters and they are all funny in their own way. I started updating everything and then I added my voice, the voice of the person I am today, inside of those characters.”
Stapleton says she’s thrilled to be back at The Stone Jug again this year. She was there in 2016 for a show called Woman Naked. “It was about the naked truth about being an aging woman, a woman who has had children and a woman dealing with a culture that insists that everyone is young and skinny and has no wrinkles or stretch marks or cellulite,” she says with a delightful yet cutting edge in her voice.
As in all her shows, there will be many characters and Stapleton will play them all. From a nurse to a character she created after attending one heck of a make-up party, Stapleton will be wearing all hats with ease because she gets the characters and is, in fact, one herself.
“Being anywhere with a group of women is an amazing experience. They burst forth with all their voices and experiences and they have free rein to talk about their partners. I find women are amazing. We are very candid about things really mysterious. Like, why that little hair appears where it does and when it does. There’s nothing there, then it’s something an inch long!” Laughter follows, then some reflection.
“Women are the wisest souls and we have so much knowledge and lore with all the stories about childbirth and children and the different stages we go through in our lives. We have so much to give to each other. A lot of my writing captures that and in my work I’ve had the opportunity to meet women who love to talk after my shows. Women want to share and that’s the best part of the evening for me almost, that sharing that comes afterwards.”
But A Broad’s Perspective isn’t just for women.
“Men love to come because there is some material that’s somewhat political. I was born in Labrador and grew up in Marystown, so I say that gives me dual citizenship status. I talk about the politics of being a Newfoundlander and a Labradorean and about the fact that we have this inviable umbilical chord that just keeps us attached to here whether we are physically present or not. The dream is always to return. My philosophy is that we are like capelin, we are just genetically programed to roll ashore once more before we die. In all of our hearts there is this connection to home.” Stapleton also visits the whimsical nature of this province, from the crazy economy to the place names to the joys and pitfalls of raising children out around the bay, if humour can be found, she exposes it.
bird’s eye view
But there’s another reason men might enjoy hearing all about A Broad’s Perspective.
Stapleton, with her signature laugh, explains. “Let’s be honest, men like to hear about the secret lives of women. This will be a bird’s eye view into what we are thinking and feeling, and it could be quite helpful.”
Stapleton’s smash hit play ‘Brazil Square’, about the iconic boarding houses of old St. John’s, will be playing at the Majestic Theatre this summer from July 5-22. For more about Berni you can check out her website bernistapleton.com