Marisa Emma Smith as Maranatha in the Firehall Arts Centre production of The Good Bride. Photo by Wendy D.
Marisa Emma Smith as Maranatha in the Firehall Arts Centre production of The Good Bride. Photo by Wendy D.

Rosemary Rowe’s contemporary comedy The Good Bride, set to play the Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver later this month, is based on true events.

To research her play about the marriage between 15-year old Quiverfull Christian girl Maranatha, and her 28-year old groom, the Vancouver playwright went online under a false online persona on Quiverfull Christian women’s blogs and internet chat-rooms. Listening to their experiences, she set out to discover how their closed-door societies operate.

For those unfamiliar, Quiverfull is described as a movement of conservative Christian couples who view children as a blessing from God, and encourages both procreation, and abstention from all forms of birth control.

The fundamental beliefs of the movement are based on Psalm 127 which says: “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.”

The most famous couple often linked to the Quiverfull movement, while denying they are adherents, are Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar from the TLC reality show, 19 Kids And Counting. They, like its other followers, believe God would not give them more children than they could handle.

A one-woman show, the role of Maranatha is performed by Vancouver theatre artist Marisa Emma Smith.

“When Rosemary first invited me to perform a reading of this play, I fell in love with Maranatha’s quirky optimism,” she says. “She’s so smart and driven while also being so innocent and naive. It’s a pure joy to work with such a well-crafted script that sheds light on women inside patriarchy, while also making me laugh out loud.”

For the Firehall’s artistic producer and director of The Good Bride, Donna Spencer was drawn to how the playwright was able to get under the skin of Maranatha, and her ability to reveal her story in a touching and humorous manner.

“As the Firehall’s artistic producer, I’m always excited to offer audiences meaningful stories about the world around us that makes them laugh, breathe with the play’s characters, and provoke thought,” she says. “As a director, I am interested in scripts that create questions and provoke my own considerations around what the world is like beyond my experience.  The Good Bride does all of those things while being highly entertaining.”

The Good Bride plays the Firehall Arts Centre (280 East Cordova St, Vancouver) February 27 – March 9. Visit firehallartscentre.ca for tickets and information.