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Nanaimo actress stages reading of original play at Harbour City Theatre

Brianna Wiens presents ‘Leftovers’ as part of TheatreOne’s Emerging Voices series
Nanaimo writer and actress Brianna Wiens is presenting her one-act play Leftovers at the Harbour City Theatre as part of TheatreOne’s Emerging Voices series. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

When Brianna Wiens was selected to perform in the 2015 Vancouver Fringe Festival, she didn’t have anything written. In fact, she had never written a play before.

Wiens, a writer and actress who hails from Vancouver Island and now lives in Nanaimo, said she had thought about staging an existing piece, but when she got the Fringe spot she thought it would be a great opportunity to create something new.

“I had to do a synopsis and poster image before I had created the show, so I made it as interesting and vague as possible so that I could then go away and write this show,” she said.

“Because I did have an idea of what it was going to be about, I just didn’t know exactly what it would be.”

With the looming Fringe deadline as her motivator, Wiens and her cast developed Leftovers, a one-act comedy about a pair of estranged siblings who are summoned to the family home when their mother dies to pack up her belongings.

Wiens said the show did well at Fringe, but still felt that she “shortchanged” herself by writing the show under time constraints. Now, after letting the script sit for four years, she’s giving Leftovers a second chance.

On Feb. 12 she will present a staged reading of the play at Harbour City Theatre as part of TheatreOne’s Emerging Voices series. She said she hopes to “give it the life that I wanted to when I originally had done it.”

“I always had this feeling that I wish I’d had a bit more time,” Wiens said. “I wish I could have done it a little differently to really fill out the show. I just felt that I never really got there.”

Wiens said she’s been working with TheatreOne artistic associate Nicolle Nattrass to refine the script and she’s also had a chance to revisit the writing without a deadline looming over her. She said writing about losing a parent was vulnerable territory for her, as her own father died when she was a teenager.

“Part of the reason I wanted to go back was that I was adamant when I wrote this the first time that this was a comedy and I was like, ‘I’m writing a comedy about death, this has to be funny…’” Wiens said.“I was so adamant about making this a comedy that I think that overshadowed the truth in it a little bit because I was at that point a little more afraid about writing about death, having dealt with death in my own family.”

Wiens said she’s excited to get to watch her play from the audience for the first time and get to take in viewer feedback at the reading. She said Leftovers is about 80 per cent complete and that she may produce it locally or take it to festivals.

“I think it’s a lovely one-act play. I think it could be produced and, putting my name on it, I want it to be the best version it could be,” she said.

WHAT’S ON … TheatreOne presents Leftovers staged reading at Harbour City Theatre on Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. Admission by $10 donation.

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