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Playwright pens ‘tragicomedy clown play’ about being trapped by past choices

Yvette Menard presents ‘The Ties that Bind’ as part of TheatreOne staged reading series
Comox playwright Yvette Menard is presenting a staged reading of her in-progress one-woman show, ‘The Ties that Bind.’ (Photo courtesy Katie Clarkson/Sitka Stage & Screen)

TheatreOne is kicking off its 2022 staged reading series with a play about a woman who feels ensnared by the choices of her past.

The Nanaimo theatre company’s Emerging Voices series resumes on Feb. 1 with The Ties that Bind by Comox playwright Yvette Menard. The play ponders how personal choices that may be correct at one point in time may no longer be the right choices in the future.

In the one-woman show, the protagonist recounts the stories of her life while knitting, winding and unwinding the yarn as the stories wind and unwind themselves.

“As she is telling the story she is becoming more and more entangled in her own stories, i.e. in the yarn,” Menard said. “And so she has to, by the end of it, decide is she going to stay tangled in her own stories or is she going to break free from them?”

Menard said she was inspired by a play by existential playwright Samuel Beckett about a woman who goes about her daily routine while being slowly buried in 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 at the play from a clowning perspective, a theatre practice Menard has been studying for the past five years in which audience reactions are part of what happens on stage.

“There is no fourth wall,” Menard explained. “You have to be in connection with the people in front of you in order for the emotions to be transferred back and forth. And so that’s how this is played is as a tragicomedy clown play in that there is connection with the audience. I am in conversation with the audience throughout the play.”

This is the first time Menard is presenting an in-person reading of the in-process play, and she said performing for an audience will be “useful and terrifying.” She’s hoping to find out which parts of the play viewers want to see more or less of and how they relate to “this middle-aged woman … who’s having this existential thought process.”

“A lot of times, in the history of entertainment, ‘women’s stories’ were not considered very marketable or entertaining,” Menard said. “But I’m hoping to show that the feelings that we all have of, ‘Did the choices I made 10, 20, 30 years ago, do they serve me now?’ That applies across the board.”

WHAT’S ON … TheatreOne presents a staged reading of The Ties that Bind by Yvette Menard in the Port Theatre lobby, 125 Front St., on Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. Admission by donation at the door.

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