Classical theatre draws actress home

Amanda Lisman returns to Victoria for her first Shaw

Actress Amanda Lisman has returned home to Victoria to take a lead role in Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre's production of George Bernard Shaw's play Arms and The Man.

Actress Amanda Lisman has returned home to Victoria to take a lead role in Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre's production of George Bernard Shaw's play Arms and The Man.

After spending three years as a leading lady at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Amanda Lisman is coming home — and she’s excited for a new experience in classical theatre.

“This is my first Shaw,” says Lisman gleefully about playing Raina in Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s Arms and the Man, opening at the McPherson Playhouse Thursday, June 5.

“Shaw writes so well for women,” she adds. “They’re intelligent, witty and there’s growth in the character. He starts them off in one place and he challenges who they are and they end up in another place. And that’s a fantastic journey to go on.

“Same with Shakespeare, but usually the outcome is marriage, or some form of victimization or death, but the thoughts they have and the rhetoric they engage in is so intelligent, so that’s really satisfying. And who doesn’t like a fancy costume?”

Costume designer Nathan Brown is busy building the period pieces that Raina and her military suitors will wear.

“That’s one of the pleasures of seeing period pieces, the great, great costumes and a bunch of men in uniform,” says Lisman.

Set during the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885, Arms and the Man tells the story of a soldier who goes to battle armed with chocolate — not bullets — and the young, engaged lady (Raina) who he falls in love with.

“Raina is an extremely romantic young woman who’s led a sheltered existence and whose notions of the world are based on poetry and romantic literature,” Lisman explains. “Over the course of the play, when she encounters the character called Bluntschli, those ideals are shattered and she becomes herself.

“She loses those illusions, they’re stripped away and she realizes that it’s far more useful to be yourself and not try to please other people or try to make people what they aren’t. It’s a pretty universal message, you don’t have to be from the 1800s to relate to that.”

The popular comedy is being directed by Glynis Leyshon, who recently directed Belfry Theatre’s production of contemporary dramedy God of Carnage.

“(Leyshon) is incredibly smart and hilarious,” says Lisman. “It’s a great mix to have someone that intellectually understands the piece and the language and the way the thoughts have to come together, and then she’s really pulling out the farcical elements of the play. It’s a great exchange of ideas and there’s a lot of intellectual arguments, ultimately we’re going towards farce with it, so there’s lots of physical comedy that I think audiences will really enjoy.”

This is Lisman’s first role in a fully-staged Blue Bridge production. For the last two years, she’s been involved in the company’s staged radio plays, Miracle on 34th Street and It’s A Wonderful Life.

“You don’t get a lot of time to practice classical theatre as an actor,” she says. “With the economy, theatres can’t afford to put on large plays anymore. . . . Luckily, Brian Richmond brought classical theatre to Victoria.”

This production will also mark the return of actor Dylan Smith who played Jacques in Blue Bridge’s inaugural production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Joining him in the role of Louka is Vanessa Holmes, Jay Hindle as Sergius, Brian Linds as Major Petkoff and Christine Willes as Catherine Petkoff. Set and costumes will be designed by Brown, lights by Giles Hogya and sound by Brian Linds. M



Arms and The Man

June 7 – 17

Previews June 5 & 6 Opens June 7 at 8pm

McPherson Playhouse

tickets at or 250-386-6121

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Artist Daniel Cline discusses his sculpture, Harmony Humpbacks, during the June 20 walking tour of Oak Bay’s 2019 ArtsAlive sculptures. Harmony Humpbacks was purchased by Oak Bay as the 2019 people’s choice winner and is permanently installed at the Beach Drive entrance to Willows Park. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Influx of donated art a ‘fantastic problem to have,’ says Oak Bay mayor

Oak Bay goes from zero to 10 permanent art pieces since 2015

Tomo Vranjes, a Greater Victoria musician and longtime fan of late rock guitar icon Eddie Van Halen, joins artist Paul Archer behind the latter’s Fort Street gallery. Archer, whose airbrushed paintings of rock greats have made him many connections in recent years, painted a likeness of Van Halen following the guitarist’s death last month from cancer. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria artist’s king-sized tribute to Eddie Van Halen draws on personal connection

Paul Archer had an up close and personal day with the legendary guitarist in 1980

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse, near Shirley. (Contributed - Lee-Ann Ruttan)
New book shines a light on Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Publication examines history, lightkeepers, and volunteer society

Victoria-based guitarist Eric Harper performs at the Port Theatre on Nov. 27. (Photo credit Tatum Duryba)
Classical guitarist to play at the Port Theatre

Eric Harper to play new songs composed during the pandemic

A sample of some of Lou-ann Neel’s jewelry.
Lou-ann Neel wins the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art

Originally from Alert Bay, Neel’s family is steeped in renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists

I-Hos Gallery manager Ramona Johnson shows some of the paddles available at the retail outlet. Photo by Terry Farrell
I-Hos Gallery celebrates 25 years of promoting First Nation artwork

K’ómoks First Nation-based outlet has art from all over the country

Bard to Broadway Theatre Society may stage shows outdoors next summer. (PQB News photo file)
Qualicum Beach’s Bard to Broadway group may stage shows outdoors

Theatre society plans smaller productions due to ongoing pandemic

A new short film festival called MORVENFEST is encouraging B.C. secondary students to step into the world of film during their Christmas break. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
New film festival gives Victoria students exciting opportunity

MORVENFEST is open to all B.C. secondary students over Christmas break

Port Alberni author Diane Dobson has put together a collection of childhood memories, with proceeds going towards the Ty Watson House. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni writer looks through the eyes of a child

Book raises funds for the Alberni Valley Hospice Society

Most Read