School of the Arts, Media + Culture SAMC


Long before,
there was Emma...

The cast of Jane Austen's Emma playing at Trinity Western University's School of the Arts, Media + Culture (Photo Jef Gibbons).

The year is 1814 and Emma Woodhouse is eager to see her friends happily married. Giddy with the success of one match, Emma ignores the warnings of Mr. Knightley and turns her attention to young Harriet Smith, determined to ensure a suitable union. But Emma’s efforts misfire, resulting in a flurry of comic complications that uncover the real effects of her meddling and reveal how little Emma knows about true love. A timeless romance, Emma plays March 12 – 23 at TWU’s School of the Arts, Media + Culture.

“Directing a show about a matchmaker in these days of eHarmony and is really fascinating,” says Assistant Professor, Aaron Caleb, who helms the production. “Whatever the century, we all look for love and the events and insights of this story remain startlingly fresh. When you add in Jane Austen’s vivid, charming characters, the result is delight from start to finish.”

In addition to clever and beautiful Emma (Daniele Neve), the attractive and enigmatic Mr. Knightley (Brandon Bate), and Emma’s hapless friend Harriet, (Shelby Wyminga), Austen’s most colourful characters are present in this production. Emma’s hypochondriac father Henry (Mark Fleming), talkative spinster Miss Bates (Jane Townsend), amorous vicar Mr. Elton (Ben Buckingham), eligible bachelor Frank Churchill (David Shoffner), and Emma’s nemesis, the strangely silent Jane Fairfax (Julie Casselman) are among the many players who have made this story a favourite through the ages.

“Austen’s understanding of human nature is unfailing,” says Caleb. “She depicts people’s weaknesses with such wit and wisdom that we can’t help but love them.”

The cast of characters also includes the charming optimist Mr. Weston (Cody Friesen), who Emma successfully pairs with her beloved governess Miss Taylor (Sharra Ganzeveld); social-climber Augusta Hawkins (Audrey Herold); and Harriet’s humble and overlooked suitor, Mr. Robert Martin (Andrew Gundy).

Adapted for the stage by Michael Bloom, this production transports the audience to the English countryside as the action takes place against a backdrop of beautifully painted panels. The set is designed by director Caleb, the chief force behind SAMC Theatre’s runaway hit Fiddler on the Roof last season. Lighting design is by Jessica Wong and the beautiful regency costumes are designed by Sabrina Evertt, whose work was seen in this year’s Go Back for Murder and last season’s Romeo + Juliet. Ariana Hurt provides live piano accompaniment, scoring the experience with the evocative music of the era. Stage management is by Charissa Hurt, Tiffany Choi, and Margaret Thorpe.

Emma plays on the Trinity Western University campus, March 12 - 23 at 7:30pm Tues-Sat with 2:00pm Saturday matinees; special discounts on Tuesdays.  For tickets and information, visit or email

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