Steven Elliott Jackson’s play Sarah/Frank tells the remarkable tale of Sarah Edmundson, a New Brunswicker who fought in the American Civil War.
It’s an unusual year for just about everything. So what better time could there be to break the mold and try something completely different? If you’re a fan of live theatre, radio drama and good storytelling, the 2020 Fundy Fringe Festival has something you’re sure to enjoy.
Among this year’s diverse lineup of in-person and live-streaming performances are a few prerecorded productions available to watch (or listen) at your own convenience. And among those is a little known story about a New Brunswick woman who fled to the United States, adopted a male identity and fought for the Union Army in the American Civil War.
Sarah/Frank is a 30 minute audio experience that retraces the untold story of Sarah Edmundson (also known as Sarah Emma Edmonds), born in 1841 near Magaguadavic Lake, not far outside the village of Harvey, NB. Upon leaving her home to escape an arranged marriage, Sarah adopted the identity of Frank Thompson and began a new life in the United States where they fought for the Union Army and became the first woman to receive a soldier’s war pension.
“I came across Sarah/Frank’s story a number of years ago researching another play around the Fenian Raids,” said Steven Elliott Jackson, the Toronto-based playwright behind Sarah/Frank. “I wanted to explore more diverse characters in the 1860’s and discovered a book about the women who fought dressed as men during the Civil War. From here, I discovered Sarah/Frank’s story about growing up in NB.”
Jackson’s play was developed quickly after the Toronto Fringe Festival shifted its programming to a digital only format for 2020. It was a perfect meeting of story, cast and opportunity.
“When the Toronto Fringe cancelled its live performances, they decided to switch to a full digital schedule festival,” said Jackson. “Rebecca Perry had signed on for the play, The President’s Daughter and I called her to do something digital. I asked her about someone famous she wanted to play and I mentioned Sarah/Frank’s story. It was instantaneous that I write this. We came together very fast, roughly three weeks from idea to script and recording. We brought in David Kingsmill for the sound and Ryan G. Hinds to direct. With some spirited advertising, this small show suddenly captured a lot of attention and notice from critics.”
Sarah/Frank is currently available to stream through the Fundy Fringe Festival website.
Written by Steven Elliott Jackson
Directed by Ryan G. Hinds
Performed by Rebecca Perry
Sound Design and Engineering by David Kingsmill