ESCAPE TO FREEDOM is a workshop presentation of composer Sandy Moore’s 12 scene opera for soprano (Janice Isabel Jackson) and ensemble based on the life of Mona Parsons (1901–1976) from Wolfville, Nova Scotia. The opera focuses on Mona’s WWII experiences (1941-1945) – her arrest, interrogation, sentencing, deportation, captivity, and escape from Vechta prison in March, 1945, during an allied bombing. After a harrowing journey through war torn Germany to the Dutch Border, she was rescued by Canadian Soldiers. An unlikely war hero, Mona Parsons became one of the first – and few – women to be tried by a Nazi military tribunal in the Netherlands and the only female Canadian civilian to be imprisoned by the Nazis in Occupied Holland, where she was tried and sentenced for execution. After her appeal she was granted life imprisonment at hard labour, then deported to POW camps in Germany. The Escape To Freedom presentations came on the heels of a workshop which was generously funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.
Mona Louise Parsons (February 17, 1901 – November 28, 1976) was a Canadian actress, nurse, and member of an informal Dutch resistance network in the Netherlands from 1940 to 1941 during the Nazi occupation. She became the only Canadian female civilian to be imprisoned by the Nazis and one of the first and few women to be tried by a Nazi military tribunal in the Netherlands.
She received a commendation for her bravery in helping Allied airmen evade capture from both Air Chief Marshal Lord Arthur Tedder of the Royal Air Force on behalf of the British people and from General Dwight Eisenhower, who expressed the gratitude of the American people.
Cast and Creative Team:
Janice Isabel Jackson – Mona Parsons
John Lindsay Botten – Nazi Interrogator, Willem Leonhardt (Dutch businessman, member of the Dutch Resistance and Mona’s husband
Ross Thompson – Dirk Brouwer (Dutch Architect, member of the Dutch Resistance), Nazi Judge
Patrick Maubert – deBoer (member of the Dutch Resistance), Aric (dying German Soldier)
Ruusi Maria Brousseau – Wendelien van Boetzelaer (member of the Dutch Resistance)
Rianna Robinson – Prisoner
Michelle Piller – Prisoner
Sandy Moore – Composer
Barbara Pritchard – Pianist
Tom Roach – Percussion
Linda Moore – Director
Emily Jewer – Stage Manager, designer