At the end of both performances of his one-man murder mystery Campground last year, Lucas Myers asked the sold-out crowds at the Capitol Theatre to doggy-pile him with feedback.
“The first time I do a show it’s usually me going pffft, here it is. It’s almost like a workshop in that I haven’t bounced it off anybody yet, and with a show like this that has so many moving parts and that’s reliant on someone watching it and figuring out the clues? I was desperate for feedback,” he told the Star.
“That’s why I was so delighted when Deryn Collier got in touch.”
Collier, a local murder mystery writer, attended the show with her husband and decided she’d call Myers and share some expertise. The two sit on Oxygen Art Centre’s board, and are longtime friends. Together they hashed out places he could massage the script.
Now, when Myers goes on stage for his one-night only performance at the Capitol on Saturday, Jan. 16, Collier will be sitting in the audience with a comp ticket. But she won’t only be watching it critically — she legitimately enjoys herself.
“I always go to Lucas’ shows. He’s so talented, and my husband loves him too, so it’s something we can enjoy together. It’s the sort of situation where your cheeks hurt the next day from laughing so hard.”
That being said, she saw minor opportunities for tweaking and figured she could give Myers a crash course in the conventions of murder mysteries.
She told him “I got it, but I could’ve gotten it a lot better.”
This is another example of the collaborative approach being taken by artists in the area — as exemplified by the growing Blue Night culture crawl — and both Myers and Collier believe cross-genre partnerships are a great way to stimulate and engage the local arts community.
“I wouldn’t willy-nilly call someone up and say ‘I want to work with you, I want to collaborate,’” said Collier. “It’s a really measured thing. I have to be careful how many stories are in my head, I have to keep track of my own stories. As an artist your gift is your mindset, your imagination, so being conscientious with how you’re using that is really important.”
In this case, she decided it was something she wanted to engage in. But to be clear: Campground is Myers’ show, and his alone. And that means, as always, it will incorporate recognizable Kootenay characters — such as his iconic Randy from Creston — but without resorting to caricatures. Instead, his Trailer Park Boys-esque affection for these characters is always apparent.
“In Lucas’ shows there’s always an emotional truth to them, which is what makes them so funny,” said Collier.
Campground follows Myers’ Detective Shelly as he searches for a missing boy. Along the way he encounters a number of characters, including the hipster Justin Case, a redneck named Michael Hodgkins and a “crazy hippie” named Warren. Two of those characters — Hogkins and Case — have online incarnations on Facebook, and Myers encourages audiences to friend them before coming to the show.
After the performance at the Capitol, Myers will take the show first to Kaslo’s Langham Theatre and then to the Vallican Whole. He has other plans for it, such as a summer theatre festival on Gabriola Island, and he hopes to book it around the province.
“I’m curious for people to come and see it again. It’s not dramatically different, but it’s a streamlined version of the same story,” Myers said.
Collier interrupted him.
“I think people should come whether they’ve seen it or not, because it’s great.”