On Saturday, March 10, the Vallican Whole Community Centre shares a unique theatrical event with the Slocan Valley community.
The second feature in this year’s Up Close and Intimate series is the world première of Be/Longing, an original and very personal play about the lives of Slocan Valley women, written and performed by Martina Avis and Marya Folinsbee. Doors open at 7 p.m., performance starts at 8 p.m.
Many Valley folks have witnessed Marya’s outstanding thespian talent as part of the Valley Gems theatrical troupe, directed by Martina. Who could forget watching her channel Elvis as part of their modern version of Midsummer Night’s Dream? Martina, on the other hand, has rarely been seen here on stage. This is her first foray into the world of acting, rather than directing and design, in almost ten years.
What is the play about, and what inspired them to take on this challenge?
Marya says, “Originally, I was imagining some kind of historical storytelling, playing recognizable characters, maybe creating some kind of Slocan Valley portrait. What has arrived is surprising, and quite different from that. I am surprised at how personal a lot of it feels … but still somehow rooted in this place.” Martina’s take on it is: “This play is mostly lighthearted, sometimes satirical. It captures lots of experiences in the valley. We hope people will see a bit of themselves and their neighbours in this show, that they will laugh and cry and contemplate what it means to live here.”
Part of the charm of the piece is the powerful connection between these two women.
Martina says, “I’m just so damn grateful when someone like Marya shows up. I’ve directed her in three plays and she’s a truly marvellous actor, I always have absolute faith in her. With this play, it’s fun to get to work with her in this whole new capacity.” Marya says, “I think we both recognized some kinship during the first couple of plays: A collaborator! Another theatre geek. Someone who speaks my language. On top of that we are in the same stage of our lives, both becoming mothers around the same time, so we became friends, and began to trust each other as artists and theatre-makers as well.”
Martina was born in the Slocan Valley, and is a fifth-generation valley resident, whereas Marya arrived about five years ago. This gives them two very different perspectives to work with.
As Marya puts it, “That is one of the themes that shows up in the play — how we relate to this place from those different starting points. I have been reckoning with ‘belonging’ wherever I’ve lived … and I feel that complication very strongly here.”
Martina’s experience is, “My relationship with the valley has changed many times. As a teenager I couldn’t wait to leave, in my early twenties I visited regularly and began to recognize its uniqueness and beauty. Now that I’m raising my children here, I’m so grateful be a part of this place, our community is how I make meaning in my life.”
Now they’ve written a play about being here, about the women they are and the women they live amongst, about the home truths involved in being a woman in this place. Everyone who comes will admire the courage and creativity of these two remarkable women as they make their way through this particular part of the world.
They want to extend a big thanks to the Slocan Valley Arts Council, for their generosity and patience.
Tickets for this play and for the next presentation in the series, Maria Dunn, storyteller in song, are available for $40 for the two at www.vallicanwhole.com. Check out the poster etc. on Facebook/TheWhole. The series is well on its way to selling out, so get yours now.