Flyer and collage by Christopher Noble.
Reflections, March 2017
“A brilliant show! Completely sold out!” Palace Theatre, http://www.palacetheatre.ca/shows-and-events/2016/9/8/the-triumph-of-teresa-harris
“In London Ontario, we all know Eldon House and Harris Park, and many of us know Amelia Harris from her War of 1812 exploits and the extensive diaries that she left behind about 19th-century London. Now poet-playwright Penn Kemp wants to throw some light onto Amelia’s youngest daughter Teresa, who left her sheltered life at Eldon House and travelled as far as the mountains of Tibet. Penn’s Teresa thinks that she is breaking away, but for the rest of her life, she is challenged by her mother’s influence and her colonial upbringing. She sets off as the wife of a rich, older man who promises her adventure. After he dies, she marries an exotic big-game hunter who reports back to the British Royal Society about what is going on beyond the outposts of the Empire. Slowly, they break out of the colonial mindset, learning new ways of thinking and new ways of relating to people of other races and animals of other species.
It’s a rich story, rooted in local history and geography, and I’m glad to see a poet like Penn Kemp bring it out into the open!” Jeff Culbert
“I am still pondering your gift, The Triumph of Teresa Harris, and remain deeply moved by your quick-witted portrayal of this amazing woman who was one of London’s own. Her spirited, highly intelligent and determined nature, brought to life on the Palace stage by your poetic, descriptive script and the voices of talented intergenerational actors,is representative of a significant chapter of London’s history.
Canada’s 150th birthday is truly being celebrated through your clever storytelling which brings to life the Harris family in Victorian times, and the beauty and strength of the natural world both here and the far reaching parts of the world to which Teresa travelled. Community collaboration was exemplified by Eldon House and the Palace Theatre crew and talented cast.
This production would be of great benefit to students of all ages. It brings our history to life and, with the availability of your carefully penned script, there are numerous theatrical and educational opportunities. May the powers that be allow for it to be viewed by as many as possible on theatre stages, in school auditoriums and perhaps on film, for I definitely see this as a potential reality. Tremendous possibilities await, dear Penn.
With heartfelt appreciation,” Ardath Finnbogason Hill
“The Triumph of Teresa Harris brings to life a fascinating London ON heroine whose adventures and accomplishments will be of interest and importance to Canadians, as we celebrate our 150th anniversary. The play illuminates the mind and soul of a woman whose vision exceeds the confines of her society, and also reminds us of our deep connection to landscapes and cultures that precede the settling of our country, by centuries. Penn Kemp has reclaimed a significant figure from our history, sharing Teresa with us in compelling and delightful ways.” Susannah Joyce
“Penn Kemp’s new play introduces a gutsy heroine, Teresa Harris, who chafes at the restrictions of a 19th century gentlewoman in London, Ontario and follows her dream to explore the exotic world of India and Tibet by ship, on foot, by litter, and on camel. This play is enriched by its double perspective— a vibrant cast of characters from Eldon house present the colonial past in full historical authenticity but these events are framed in a broader perspective that includes London’s indigenous heritage, Tecumseh, fugitive slaves who escaped to the Chatham and London area, and more. The play’s rhythm that circles out from home to the exotic East and back home again is replicated in the musical accompaniment— a violin for the home experience in Canada and an oud for the outward journeys.” Catherine Ross
“I really enjoyed the [March 4th] event too. The story, the music, and your performance blended together so well!” “Congratulations! I truly enjoyed the performance. I particularly enjoyed the performances of young Teresa and middle Teresa. Both did such a fine job! The writing was wonderful too. I loved how you pulled together so many threads and connected it to the present. I also appreciate how you did not hide Teresa’s faults of her time – racism, classism. This is an important part of the story.” Julie Ryan
“I loved seeing The Triumph of Teresa Harris yesterday, to a sold-out house no less. I found it to be quite touching, and it was wonderful to see these fascinating people from a bygone age come to life. From an acting perspective Maya Gupta as the Second Teresa was excellent. My sincere congratulations.” Jennifer Wenn
“Wonderful show, well done to the large cast and crew and of course, the playwright! And the musicians! The play was wonderful; it would be great in the schools as a perspective on the sesquicentennial , and even performed for the schools — more funding needed!!” Mary McDonald
“I knew nothing of her exploits and so found it educational as well.” Bernie Koenig
“‘Write what should not be forgotten.’ Isabel Allende. Thank you so much for writing this beautiful play and giving us the opportunity to help share Teresa’s story.” Bridget Corbett
Reflections, December 2016
Dear CEL students,
I was very impressed by your accomplishments and keen enthusiasm for the project. The blog, the CD design and the poster are all tributes to your talents. You were a delight to work with. I am grateful for all you had to offer! It was a real pleasure to mentor you on the realities of being a writer/editor/producer. We all learned a lot, with mutual respect and regard all round! Thanks again for the opportunity!
See you at the performance of THE TRIUMPH OF TERESA HARRIS!