The following was contributed by Miss604.com guest theatre blogger, Megan Stewart
Bill, the inspiration for this one-woman play, might have said, â€œThat was nice, Andrea,â€ and kissed his granddaughter on the cheek.
â€œHe certainly appreciated the arts,â€ said playwright and actor Andrea Loewen, the creative force behind Silk Threads, following an affectionate tribute to her grandfather.
At the yesterdayâ€™s opening, the audience was largely composed of friends and family who knew Bill personally. They laughed as Andrea put his idiosyncricities on stage, drawing attention to his sparse phone etiquette and affinity for logarithms.
Andrea plays a slightly fictionalized version of herself and delivers a biographical portrayal of her grandfather, Bill, who died in 2006. A Mennonite who emigrated from Russia to Canada as WWII escalated, he found comfort in numbers when English was a challenge. Finally settling in Abbotsford, he had three daughters and was an integral part of the lives of his grandchildren.
But as the mostly biographical play explores, Bill needed convincing that his granddaughter would find success pursuing her dreams of being an artist. As a girl, she wants to be a ballerina, movie star, model, dance teacher and everything else that would put her in the spotlight.
â€œWe donâ€™t all want the same things,â€ a teenage granddaughter tells her grandfather. I can be more than a wife and a mother, she says.
Family is the heart of his existence, the granddaughter comes to learn, and this guidance was his way of helping her find happiness.
Silk Threads moves between Andreaâ€™s childhood until she is headed to Paris as a young adult to pursue acting. Complimenting her growing understanding of her grandfatherâ€™s life, the play visits Billâ€™s childhood in Russia and the wartime strife and religious persecution of his family once he has left for Canada.
The movements between place and time are not seamless, but Andreaâ€™s performance is breathlessly energetic and engaging. The script is personal and entertaining, with a committed and courageous, 40-minute solo show coming from Andrea.
A tribute from a granddaughter to her late grandfather, Silk Threads is not only about the love of family but also the dedication to faith. Indeed, a portion of the Mennonite congregation from Central Heights Church in Abbotsford attended the performance. Andreaâ€™s questions about the afterlife bring us the title of the play and the most poignant scene of the performance. The closing moment is tender and enchanting.
Editor’s Note: Silk Threads was only showing until June 20th but it’s definitely worth keeping an eye on Andrea Loewen and the Pacific Theatre.
Megan Stewart is an independent reporter currently at the UBC graduate school of journalism. She has covered arts across Canada and Australia and also writes for Newslab.ca.