By MYRON LOVE Mariam Bernstein and her daughter, Miranda Baran are eagerly looking forward to appearing together on stage for the first time later this month.
The occasion will be their co-starring roles in “Another Way Home”, the Winnipeg Jewish Theatre’s first production of the 2016-2017 season. (The play runs from October 27-November 9.) In the production, mother and daughter will be playing – a mother and daughter.
“I chose this play specifically with Mariam and Miranda in mind,” says Ari Weinberg, the WJT’s artistic director.
“When Ari gave me the script, my first thought was that the play would be perfect for Miranda and I suggested that to Ari,” Bernstein says. “I don’t take anything for granted after more than 30 years in the theatre.”
Weinberg describes “Another Way Home” as a “dramamedy” set at a summer camp. The focus, he says, is on a secular, dysfunctional Jewish family.
“Parents will be able to relate to the difficulty in letting go with their children,” Weinberg observes, “while, for younger people, there are a lot of references to Taylor Swift. The character Nora (Baran) is obsessed with Taylor Swift. There are a lot of laughs throughout.”
A pivotal moment in the play, Weinberg observes, is a discussion between Nora and Lillian (Bernstein) about the absence of prayer in their lives. “Maybe the dysfunction is because of a lack of faith,” Weinberg suggests.
Weinberg notes that the playwright, Anna Ziegler, is currently one of the hottest playwrights in America. She has had four plays staged in New York in just the last two years and a production of one of her plays in London last year starred Nicole Kidman.
Mariam Bernstein has been one of the fortunate ones in that she has been able to enjoy a lengthy and productive career treading the boards in Winnipeg – and Winnipeg audiences have been lucky to have her here. She caught the acting bug, she recalls, after watching a production of “The Pirates of Penzance” at Kelvin High School when she was 12.
After finishing university here, she auditioned for and was accepted into the National Theatre School. She also spent a year in France studying theatre in Paris.
She began her career in Toronto but, after a couple of years, decided to return to Winnipeg. “I always wanted to be a working actor and there was a lot of opportunity in Winnipeg in the early 1990s,” she says.
During the course of her career, she has done TV and movies, radio and narration – but the medium she prefers is the stage. When not on stage, Bernstein has been backstage, directing, teaching and coaching. (She is a former WJT artistic director.) In fact, Bernstein had previously directed Miranda in university productions of “Much Ado about Nothing”, “Twelfth Night” and Chekhov’s “The Proposal”.
Miranda Baran naturally grew up in the theatre. She has studied theatre at both the University of Winnipeg and Manitoba Theatre for Young People.
“I have also learned a lot from my mother as both a teacher and director,” she says.
Coming up for Miranda after the WJT production is a role in MTYP’s staging of “Footloose”.
Mariam is looking forward to a role in Prairie Theatre Exchange’s production of “The Birds and the Bees” in the spring and she may have another project in January.