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One-woman show about travel and self-discovery makes Nanaimo debut

Vancouver playwright Keara Barnes presents ‘TravelTheatrics’ at Harbour City Theatre
Vancouver playwright Keara Barnes debuted her one-woman show TravelTheatrics at the 2018 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. From Feb. 13 to 16 she’s bringing it to the Harbour City Theatre. (Photo courtesy Leah Borchert)

What started as a six-month trip to Ireland turned into six years full of travel around Europe, North Africa and Southeast Asia, and Vancouver actress Keara Barnes has captured that odyssey in her new one-woman show, TravelTheatrics.

The show is named after the blog that she kept during her journeys as a way to keep her friends and family updated. At the time she was “flighty” and “all over the place,” not only geographically, but in terms of what she wanted to do with her life.

“I really had fantasies of being a full-time nomadic travel blogger at one point,” Barnes said. “I had thought I would probably return to Ireland. I thought I would be going into maybe arts administration or education in theatre. It was a few years of navigating different paths.”

It was around 2015 that she decided to return to Vancouver, start a theatre company and “give the whole acting thing a go.” She was partly inspired by attending the Vancouver Fringe Festival.

“I saw some solo shows which I’d never seen before and I thought that those people up there are amazing, they’re telling their stories, why don’t I do that?” she said.

Barnes wrote her first show, Almost a Stepmom, about her experience living in Ireland and soon followed that up with TravelTheatrics.

“I felt the desire to do a second one all about my travels because each of the solo shows are kind of chapters of my life and the TravelTheatrics chapter is about not only the travels that I did in my mid-20s, but about really the path that I took to lead me to becoming an artist.”

The production debuted at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in 2018 and from Feb. 13 to 16 Barnes brings TravelTheatrics to the Harbour City Theatre in her Nanaimo debut.

In the show, Barnes tells six stories from her travels spanning Ireland, England, Germany, Australia, Morocco, Malaysia and Canada and she plays all 18 characters.

“Each of the stories is selected because it was a significant moment for me in terms of a connection with somebody I made and also it was a moment of inspiration for me to that led me towards becoming an artist,” she said.

Barnes said her principal hope is that the show motivates others to discover and follow their own passions. She said TravelTheatrics depicts the struggles and self-doubt that she went through and eventually overcame.

“I want to share in that with everybody because I think everybody’s experienced that,” she said. “But if you just have faith in yourself and keep fighting, maybe you can also find what it is that you love and you can get out there and pursue it and be sharing your stories with me someday.”

WHAT’S ON … Western Edge Theatre presents TravelTheatrics by Keara Barnes at Harbour City Theatre, 25 Victoria Rd., from Feb. 13 to 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. Tickets $11 to $21. Available at 250-816-6459 or online.

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