When Christine Emmert arrived at Temple University in 1973 to study anthropology, she was a new single mother looking to move on from theatre and pursue a career in something that could support her family.
Instead, she met her now-husband, Richard Emmert, a 1976 anthropology alumnus, who supported her when she decided to pursue acting again.
The two met in a seminar at school called From Metaphor to Reality, and that’s kind of where it all started, Richard Emmert said.
“We talked a lot about the seminar and about anthropology and philosophy and art, and then we started dating and we’ve been together ever since,” he added.
Now the Emmerts, who have been married for 42 years, have their own pop-up theatre production company called Wild Plum Productions. Their show “Fragments from a Witch’s Journal” performed from Sept. 13 to 21 at Jeb Williams Theater as a part of this year’s Philadelphia Fringe Festival.
The show is a solo performance by Christine Emmert, that Richard Emmert helped build the set and perform sound effects for.
It follows one woman who finds a manuscript written by a witch, and begins to read it and explores her powers and feelings as a woman.
The woman’s not a “Halloween witch,” Christine Emmert said, but instead she’s a woman who lives outside of society as she doesn’t conform to what society believes women should be.
She said she was inspired by a woman she met at a music cafe in Colorado, who referred to herself as a witch.
“I wrote it when I lived in Colorado, for the Mercury Cafe out there, which is run by a woman named Marilyn, who always says she is a good witch,” Christine Emmert said. “Marilyn said she couldn’t [write it] because it was too long and too serious and [Mercury Cafe] does more comic, but I had written the whole piece by then.”
She said she wondered how well an audience would accept the show, and wanted to the Fringe festival because they hadn’t performed at it in a few years.
Katherine Mallon-Day has known the Emmert’s for six years and performed in the Fringe festival previously with the couple. She said she has enjoyed in previously show adaptations for Wild Plum productions and working collaboratively with Christine Emmert, as they bounce ideas off of each other for different shows.
“It’s been great as two mature women to continue acting and being creative in a world where a woman beyond 20 and 30 tends to feel overlooked in terms of theatrical writing,” Mallon-Day said.
Her and Christine Emmert have had many discussions over coffee about their collaborative work and women’s issues, which they both are interested in, she added.
Acting is a wonderful thing, acting opens your mind,” Richard Emmert said. “It allows you the ability to possibly see the world through different eyes.”
Though she and Richard have no future events in Philadelphia planned for their theatre company for now, Christine Emmert said, it’s always possible that Wild Plum will “pop up.”
“I probably couldn’t have stayed with my dream to act if I hadn’t met Richard, because he’s supported my dream as well as his own,” Christine Emmert said. “I feel that theater is my voice.”
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