Planning to take in this year’s Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival in Old Strathcona from Aug. 11 to 21? If so, be sure to check out the production Letters from Battle River: The Adventures of Dr. Mary Percy Jackson inspired and written using archival records from the holdings of the Provincial Archives of Alberta (PAA)!
If you’ve ever wondered what work goes on at the PAA, this project is a wonderful example of the use and application of archival material to breathe new life into records and provide an engaging, enlightening and meaningful platform to share incredible stories of the past.
Dr. Mary Percy Jackson, an English doctor who came to work on the Alberta frontier, wrote an astonishing collection of letters home over the course of her first two years in Canada. In consultation with Dr. Jackson’s family, and with the support of the PAA, a distillation of the letters was woven together with more than 150 archival images and films over the winter and spring of 2007 to create the production Letters from Battle River: The Adventures of Dr. Mary Percy Jackson.
A preview of the production was offered as a part of the Edmonton and Athabasca Historical Festival and went on to an acclaimed run at the 2007 Edmonton Fringe Theatre Festival. Back by popular demand, and with some slight modification and refreshing, this production will be featured again in 2016 at venue 26, the Garneau Theatre for seven show times.
Behind the makers of the production
MAA & PAA Theatre was formed in 2006 as a partnership between historian and PAA archivist Karen Simonson, and theatre producer, David Cheoros. Together, they set out to bring history to life using a balance of respect for accurate and fact-based research using primary sources, and a range of theatrical tools and devices that seek to tell stories of contemporary relevance, with a special interest on Alberta history and Alberta authors.
The PAA acquires preserves and publicly makes available records from government, individual people and organizations for researchers of all ages. Discover a piece of Alberta’s past, find a lost relative or donate your own records and leave your mark on Alberta’s history. The doors are open for you to see Alberta in a different way.