New Persephone play explores family, grief and mental health

(left to right) Kathleen MacLean, Jennifer Dawn Bishop, Skye Brandon and Danny Knight work on a scene in the rehearsal hall for This Is How We Got Here by Keith Barker, playing on the Main Stage in Rawlco Radio Hall Jan. 31 to Feb. 11. (Photo by Olivia Swerhone-Wick)

Persephone Theatre’s first main stage play of 2024 promises to tackle the ever important and all-too-familiar topics of suicide and mental health.

This Is How We Got Here by Keith Barker follows two couples as they deal with the fallout of a death in the family — one that resulted from a battle with mental health. The family is forced to examine their relationships and connections with each other as they navigate through their loss and deal with the surprising visit of a fox. The show runs until Feb. 11 at Persephone Theatre.

Danny Knight, one of the performers in This Is How We Got Here, said the show connects with the very real ways people cope with loss.

“The show, to me, is about the misconnections people have. It’s about how we deal with grief in different ways, and how people avoid dealing with grief and that can create problems in your life,” Knight said. “You’re going to see friends trying to go on with their daily lives, but they have all these questions they’re too scared to ask or answer.”

Knight, who noted he’s more used to taking on comedic roles, said it was an exciting challenge to portray a more serious character in this play. He lauded the work done by the rest of the cast — including Kathleen MacLean, Skye Brandon and Jennifer Dawn Bishop — in portraying deep and thoughtful characters, and for helping him hone his own character for this drama.

Assistant director Rayna Masterson said in a statement that Keith Baker’s script tackles heavier topics in a positive way.

“I think anyone, around the world, has dealt with suicide – whether they’ve been directly affected by it
or loosely connected to it – and I think those questions that people have are universal,” Masterton said.
“I was really drawn to the way that Keith (Barker) deals with those questions being unanswered,
acknowledging them, and still finding humor in moments of grief and sadness or hurt and anger, without
sinking into it and (focusing on) how we do change because of it.”

Knight complimented Masterson and director Katie German for how they navigated a script that — however powerfully-written — takes on such weighty subject matter.

He said working in such a supportive and collaborative environment, which included regularly check-ins with the cast and constant communication between the cast and production team, helped contribute to a show with a beautiful message about overcoming hardships and working through struggles in a healthy way.

“Sometimes, life is hard. Hard things happen. And if we keep it all bottled up we’re only going to hurt ourselves,” Knight said. “I hope people think about opening up, and caring for one another, and making time to talk about heavy stuff with good friends and family.”

This Is How We Got Here runs until Feb. 11 on the Persephone Theatre main stage. Tickets can be purchased online at

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