Marie Birkbeck

The cast and crew of Wishbone Theatre treated the Robson Valley to another stellar performance in October with the production of Hunter of Peace, inspired by a book of the same name. According to an article in the magazine ARTiculate, Sharon Stearns originally wrote this musical in 1993, for which she was nominated for a Jessie Award. 

Set against a backdrop of the Canadian Rockies the story follows some of the true-life adventures of Mary Schaffer Warren, an artist, photographer, writer and wealthy widow from Philadelphia who came to western Canada to finish a project her late botanist husband had started, and ended up leading a daring expedition through the Rockies in search of the headwaters of the Athabasca River in 1907.

The show opens with Mary Schaffer Warren, in her later years (Sharon Stearns) sharing an old photo album with a young niece (Isis Hiroe). Her body may be old, but her memory is sharp! As she turned the pages and talks about each photograph, she could vividly relive some of the adventures that she and her travel companions, and her guides endured during the four-month trek on horseback over uncharted territory.

Hunter of Peace
Hunter of Peace

On stage the cast, consisting of Shara Gustafson (young Mary Shaffer) Miwa Hiroe (Molly Adams) Bridget Uhl (Mrs. Juliet de la Beach Nichol) Dustin Winzer (Billy Warren) and Seth Macdonald (Bill Peyto), realistically re-enacted what life was like for them in the wilderness at the turn of the century. Laden with music, humour, romance, fear and laughter and tears the audience was easily drawn into the script and could feel the emotions of the characters in the story.

A quote from one of Mary’s diaries in 1928 sums up the story: 

No-one may know I went among those hills with a broken heart and only on the high places could I learn that I and mine were very close together. We dare not tell those beautiful thoughts, they like to say “explorer” of me, no, only a hunter of peace. - Mary Warren (1928)

Of course, no production would be complete without the collaborative effort of the entire team including stage manager Bob Thompson, Production Manager Harold Edwards, Scenic Artist Sheilagh Foster - who was responsible for the gorgeous mountain scene that graced the stage - as well as Jennifer Ford, Carla Trask, Monica Zeiper, and Zach Schneider.

Congratulations Sharon Stearns and Wishbone Theatre on a job well done, and we look forward to your spring 2018 production of Luckyville.

Hunter of Peace
Hunter of Peace
Hunter of Peace