Stage Identities: Creating a Platform or Space for Dialogue
Apparently, The Mennonite Madonna actually originated as a collection of performance poetry framing a 1997 Fringe Theatre performance by Driedger as the Mennonite Madonna and as her grandparents.
The greatest strength, in my opinion, of the art scene in Winnipeg, Manitoba, is that the scene is all about smashing boundaries – boundaries between the numerous historic and immigrant cultures that have together built the city, boundaries between tradition and new perspectives and boundaries between art forms. Two of my favorite examples of the latter are the adaptation of Patrick Friesen’s poetry to both print and stage forms and Clive Holden’s multi-media Trains of Winnipeg. (Though I am also tempted to include a phenomenal presentation of Carl Dreyer’s La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (1928) accompanied by acoustic and jazz performers on the level of the Wyrd Sisters.)
The Mennonite Madonna is a stage persona Driedger developed in response to the lack of a female divine in Mennonite culture and worship. Searching for options and solutions, Driedger apparently looked to the Roman Catholic image of Mary, Mother of Christ, and to Mary's iconoclastic double – the pop performer Madonna who became a dominant force in pop culture by challenging traditional values and perceptions – possibly one of the first great Postmodern performers.