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  • Writer's pictureSammi Canning

'Dear Players'...a childhood dream

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

In the sixth entry in our blog series, Dear Players, the wondrous Sammi Canning shares the moment she took a leap of faith into directorship to make her childhood dream come true. Mesmerised by Arthur Miller's A View from the Bridge as a teen, Sammi finally got to bring her vision to life in what became one of the Players' most epic productions. Welcome, Sammi, to the Downsview Players' blog!

"Gosh was it really four years ago in May that we were lucky enough to perform and interpret this Arthur Miller classic?!

"We definitely threw ourselves in at the deep end with this production. It was a real baptism of fire as at the time we believed The Downsview Players didn't do gritty or American/New Jersey Accents!

The director stands with the cast of A View from the Bridge, 2016.
Sammi, centre, directs husband Steve (left) and Jason and Michelle.

"Having studied this play at school, it left a lasting impression on me. I always told friends and family that one day I would love to direct it. Well that day arrived!

"This was my first time in the director’s chair, and there were so many components. Set design, lighting, costumes, props, music...not to mention the acting. This directing lark isn't as easy as it looks! 🤔

"However, the support and encouragement that I received from the entire group was more than I could have asked for; everyone was so positive and excited about this production."

It was so hard to choose, but here are two of my favourite scenes.

Act One, Scene One

The cast from A View from the Bridge in the opening scene of the play, 2016.
L-R: Eddie, Steve Canning; Beatrice, Anne Bassi; and Catherine, Michelle Turner

"This scene demonstrates the amazing chemistry of our Players and how we naturally bounce off one another so effortlessly. It’s a really beautiful scene, as it’s inviting the audience into the intimate but normal lives of this close-knit family. They are sitting around the dining table animatedly eating spaghetti, discussing normal things, such as the size of spiders in a crate that could apparently stop a Buick! Or the plans for a young person going into the world of employment. It could be any family in any county in the world. Steve, Anne and Michelle worked so hard as they wanted it to come across as naturally as possible. I loved it because of its simplicity and fact that once again our amazing Players showed their incredible talent in bringing that tenderness to life.

Act Two – Immigration Scene

The cast of A View from the Bridge perform the immigration raid scene, 2016.
L-R: Eddie (Steve Canning) has called immigration and the repercussions shake the family to its core.

"I loved this scene the most, as it was the hardest scene to work on, in terms of ensuring the actors stood in the right position and their characterisation. But once again the Players excelled themselves - their determination, tenacity and patience meant they got this scene right. It wasn’t an easy feat, and it took hours to get it spot on.

The cast of A View from the Bridge take instruction from Director, Sammi Canning, 2016.
Sammi works with the cast to capture the emotion.

"It’s a highly charged and chaotic scene, with near enough the entire cast on stage, and emotions are running high! People are being arrested and taken away and everyone is screaming and shouting! There was a realisation that something egregious was occurring which would lead to a tragic ending for more than one character. I was exceptionally proud of the cast as they created such an authentic moment. They came together as one unit to produce a truly poignant, emotive and wonderful piece of drama.

"I believe that we achieved something special that year. A View from the Bridge was the catalyst that we needed to push forward, change and adapt. It gave us the courage, confidence and creativity to go on to produce and perform some outstanding plays since."

"We might have seen each other every week since March online, but we are longing for the time we can be together again. I just know we've got even more we can achieve - especially as next year is our 90th anniversary! Until then, I'm so glad we have these memories to share."

Pictured top left to bottom right: Steve Canning as Eddie Carbone during the immigration raid; the tragic final moments of Eddie Carbone as he lays in the arms of his loved ones, Catherine (Michelle Turner) and Beatrice (Anne Bassi); Stephen Atkins plays the family lawyer, Alfieri, who acts as confidante and narrator; Michelle, Steve and Anne take a break between dress rehearsals; Simon Charles and Martin Parham join Steve (centre) as the lead's workmates from the dockyard; the whole cast lines up with Director Sammi Canning.

See more images in our gallery.

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