When Michelle Deines’s grandmother died, it resulted in family conflict.
The Vancouver-based playwright, who was raised in Shawnigan Lake, said she was struck by how easily things can “fall apart” when a family member is in distress or when there are other things at stake; money, in particular. About a year after the funeral, Deines started writing a play that drew from those observations.
“I kind of wanted to reimagine the whole situation,” she said. “So what happened in the play isn’t real, none of those things ever happened, but I just sort of wanted to peel back some of that stuff and think about what would have happened if people had actually gone through with some of the things that they said they would, but they never did.”
In Deines’s play, The Nighthawks, the main character illegally removes her father’s remains from a Ladysmith graveyard to fulfill his wish of having his ashes scattered in Alberta.
Deines has been working on the play, “stopping and starting,” for about four years. She said The Nighthawks is “close to production ready” and on March 19 it’ll get even closer when she presents a reading at Harbour City Theatre as part of TheatreOne’s Emerging Voices series.
Her last staged reading, in Vancouver in 2016, was productive and well-received, Deines said, adding that it resulted in her coming up with a couple new scenes. She said she hopes to make similar progress at the Nanaimo reading. As the play starts off on Vancouver Island, Deines said she’s also curious to see how that resonates with an Island crowd.
“It’ll be good to test the script again but with a different group of actors and a different director and a get a new perspective on it. I haven’t worked on it closely for a little while so it’ll be good to go back to it,” Deines said, later adding, “My goal, ultimately, is to keep working on the script to get it as good as possible so that it could be up on the stage.”
WHAT’S ON … Michelle Deines presents The Nighthawks at Harbour City Theatre on March 19 at 7:30 p.m. Admission by $10 donation at the door