TheatreOne kicks off its staged reading series in 2022 with a play about a woman who feels trapped by the choices of her past.
The Nanaimo Theater Company’s Emerging Voices Series resumes Feb. 1 with The ties that unite by Comoxian playwright Yvette Ménard. The play reflects on how personal choices that may be right at one time may not be the right choices in the future.
In the one-woman show, the protagonist tells the stories of her life while knitting, winding and unwinding the yarn as the stories wind and unfold.
“As she tells the story, she becomes more and more entangled in her own stories, that is, in the thread,” Menard said. “And so she has to, in the end, decide whether she’s going to stay entangled in her own stories or is she going to free herself from them?”
Menard said she was inspired by a play by existential playwright Samuel Beckett about a woman going about her daily business while slowly being buried in the sand. Menard said she was interested in why the woman was allowing herself to be trapped rather than choosing to break free. She also came to the play from the perspective of the clown, a theatrical practice that Menard has studied for five years in which audience reactions are part of what happens on stage.
“There is no fourth wall,” explained Ménard. “You have to be in touch with the people in front of you so the emotions are transferred back and forth. And that’s how it plays out like a tragicomedy clown play in that there’s a connection with the audience I am in conversation with the audience throughout the play.
It’s the first time Menard has presented an in-person reading of the play in progress, and she said performing in front of an audience would be “helpful and terrifying.” She hopes to find out what parts of the play viewers want to see more or less of and how they relate to “this middle-aged woman…who has this existential thought process.”
“Often in the history of entertainment, ‘women’s stories’ weren’t seen as very marketable or entertaining,” Ménard said. “But I hope to show that the feelings we all have, ‘Are the choices I made 10, 20, 30 years ago serving me now?’ This applies at all levels.
WHAT’S THIS… TheatreOne presents a staged reading of The ties that unite by Yvette Ménard in the lobby of the Port Theatre, 125 Front Street, February 1 at 7:30 p.m. Admission by donation at the door.