Lucas Myers rolled up to the Taco Club on his fat bike. The Nelson-based theatre actor/writer/director/producer asked me to meet him there after a day ski touring at the Fingers with Keith McNab. He was hungry, I wanted to get out of the office late on a Friday afternoon, so it worked for both of us.
Myers was in town conducting research for his newest play, The Revelstoke Project, commissioned by the Revelstoke Arts Council. The goal is for him to use “his talent for storytelling and character work to celebrate the many facets that make up the world of Revelstoke,” according to a press release sent out by Miriam Manley, the manager of the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre.
“I’ve never done anything like that and it sounded fascinating,” Myers told me when I asked him how the project came about. “Then I got freaked out. I’m an outsider coming in to talk about the town.
“I’ve let that go because that’s what’s fun about it.”
Myers is a veteran theatre professional who’s best know for his one-man performances such as his solo version of the original Star Wars trilogy. He’s performed in Revelstoke three times and I was fortunate to catch the last two of those. One was Deck, a play about a man who moves his family from the city to the Kootenays, and then runs into trouble trying to build a deck. The other was The Cromoli Brothers, a vaudeville production in which one of the brothers doesn’t show up, leaving Myers to play all the parts.
In both cases, the plays were very funny, with Myers successfully inhabiting numerous characters. “I like to find a common human experience, or a common North American experience, and use that to look at human behaviour a little bit,” he tells me before ordering three tacos — pork, beef and chicken (the pork was his favourite).
He hopes that background will come in handy as he works on The Revelstoke Project.
Myers spent the past week in Revelstoke. He arrived last Wednesday and was quickly immersed in the community, getting a tour of the mill, going to drop-in curling, getting a history lesson from Cathy English, meeting the mayor and getting a snowboard lesson at Revelstoke Mountain Resort and more, all the while talking to people along the way.
“I’m still figuring out what the show is. It will have music, it will be comedy-based. I’ll play around with stereotypes and do all that stuff,” he said. “The thing I’m considering is having it be a person coming to the town and trying to figure out who they should be.”
Myers and I spoke for about 45 minutes, mostly about Revelstoke, but we also touched on his theatre background. He trained and performed in Victoria, Vancouver and New York City before moving back to Nelson to start a family. There, he launched his Pilot.Co.Pilot theatre company.
His impressions of Revelstoke mostly come from performing here, first in front of small crowds at small venues, then in front of bigger crowds at the RPAC. “When I first came here, I thought it was a small town,” he said. “I did my show in the art gallery, and then in the church basement, and 15 people showed up.”
As he’s returned, he’s seen more culture seep into the town. “It’s expanded beyond just the stereotypical small town that I first had this idea of.”
He sees Revelstoke as a town in flux as it transitions from a resource economy to a tourism one. The thing that’s struck him most is the strong sense of community. He wants to make sure the show captures not just the outdoors culture, but also the working class nature of many of the residents.
“I want to make sure when I do the show I’m capturing all these different elements of it,” he said. “It’s not a show about anybody versus anybody – except in a humourous way.”
Myers has made sure to talk to people wherever he’s been. He’s also collecting stories online and he’ll be back here at the end of February to learn more about Revelstoke. Then he’ll spend the rest of the year writing and producing the play, with the goal of premiering it in late November.
When it’s all said and done, you can expect a variety show of sorts that will tell a story. There will be music and puppetry and more. As usual, Myers will be performing all the parts.
A friend is acting as a consultant and he’ll be reading the script to a select few in town to get feedback before the premiere. “The purpose of theatre is to hold a mirror up to some extent,” he said. “Here I get to hold a mirror up to people in the town.”
To add your thoughts to the Revelstoke Project, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYMXFTB