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Award-winning comedy set to entertain audiences in qathet

Professional actor happy to be back in town, performing with theatre guild
COMEDY MASTERPIECE: Professional actor Michelle Morris plays Eva in the comedy Gibson and Sons, written by Canadian playwright Kristen Da Silva.

A full-length comedy theatre production will be hitting the stage at Forest Bistro and Lounge this coming March.

Townsite Actors Guild is set to entertain audiences once again, with a performance of Canadian playwright Kristen Da Silva's award-winning Gibson & Sons. Stephanie Miller is directing with Stephen Miller producing, along with local actors and stage crew.

Local actors and crew

Actor Michelle Morris, who plays sardonic older sister Eva in the play, was born and raised in the qathet region, and has worked with Townsite Actors Guild in at least three previous productions, including the smash hit WeedLube. Morris attended Studio 58 theatre program in Vancouver and University of Victoria's theatre school, and has been on stage ever since.

Meet the Millers

Fast forward to the year 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, and the theatre world was forced to close its doors to live audiences. Morris decided to move back to qathet, where she connected with Stephen and Stephanie and is currently an artistic associate at Beanstalk Theatre Company, which was founded in 2022 by Sydney Spenst. 

"Stephanie and Stephen are just the best kind of people and they know how to bring together a really diverse group who all have very different skills and approaches," said Morris. "But it all ends up working, and likewise when it comes to the backstage crew."

Morris said Stephanie is phenomenally intuitive and knows exactly when to jump in with an idea for an actor, and when to let them find their way with a moment on stage. 

Hard times for theatre

"It's been such a tumultuous and difficult time for theatre companies, especially the past number of years, but I really feel that 2024 is going to be the year of resurgence of live performances," added Morris. "Once I moved home I got a regular kind of job that I quite enjoyed, and I wasn't ready to jump back into going to the city because there weren't as many opportunities."

Professional actor returns home

Morris said she likes being back in her hometown and the lifestyle that comes with living in a slower-paced environment.

"I get to be around my parents and my wonderful partner, who I met when I moved back here, and I get to have a balance in life," said Morris. "I discovered Kristen's work this summer, and I just absolutely fell in love with her style."

Canadian play

Da Silva is a playwright and actor based in Ontario who often acts in the first production of her plays. She is currently playwright-in-residence at Theatre Orangeville and has been commissioned by small rural summer theatres to write plays.

"Her writing is so funny and all of her comedies are like that," said Morris. "They [rural Ontario] have audiences very similar to the audiences we have here in town, and I recognize the characters and voices; they are funny, just like the people in the community I grew up around."

Small town setting

Gibson & Sons is based in a small town and a small family run business (a funeral home). The son, Harry Gibson, secretly meets a woman from Russia online and invites her to come to Canada.

Comedy showcase

When Katja, along with her sardonic older sister Eva, shows up, the sisters are thrown into culture shock and the family’s quiet life is turned upside down.

"They [characters] are very human and they have big dreams; they want big things for themselves," said Morris. "I play the sister Eva and she's very acerbic and very discerning, and doesn't really trust people. She's got a razor-sharp wit."

The actors are currently in rehearsals and many worked together in December's sold-out performance of A Christmas Carol.

"What I love about [Gibson and Sons] is there is this side to it where people sometimes realize, living in a small place, that you can achieve your dreams and find happiness and fulfillment here," said Morris. "It doesn't have to be this thing that exists elsewhere, or only in the big cities. The characters in this play kind of come to a realization of that, and that happiness is a lot closer than they think it is."

When, where and how

Gibson & Sons will run March 1, 2, 8 and 9 at the Forest Bistro and Lounge. Tickets are available at Rocky Mountain Pizza on Marine Avenue.

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