Contemporary theatre with a twist comes to Penticton
Excited, but nervous, Penticton’s Mia Harris will be performing a contemporary theatre and vocal piece she has penned herself.
“Yes, a little bit of both of those emotions,” she agrees. “Throughout my training in opera I always felt this inner pull to be doing something a little more against the grain or off the beaten track a little bit. I love that I got to use my creativity to make this piece because when you are doing opera there is always so many guidelines.”
Harris grew up in Penticton and left for Vancouver to earn an undergrad degree in music with a major in opera and then an opera diploma at the University of Toronto. She returned in 2012 to Penticton and has been writing the one woman vocal performance piece, Biography of a Voice, for the past year.
“I’m curious to see what kind of response I get because it definitely is contemporary and it doesn’t have that classical music sound even though I am using a classical voice,” said Harris.
Biography of a Voice is a story recounting one person’s response to a mythic call, an inexplicable, interior niggling that simply won’t go away. Even though the protagonist goes through the motions that promise to lead to a prescribed definition of success, she struggles until she realizes that there is something that first needs to be set straight.
The call needs to be acknowledged and responded to. Harris describes it as a journey inward in search of self discovery, transformation and ultimately, self acceptance.
After a decade of training, Harris abandoned the usual path taken by aspiring singers, vying for spots at pre-professional music camps and competitions and doing the audition circuit. Her creative urge still itched and she thought it was the right time to explore her love for acting and theatre. She has taken the stage with Opera Nuova in Edmonton, the Saskatoon Opera and the title role in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Lolanthe with Toronto Operetta Theatre — now it is a turn to give her own version of the classical sound.
“I do love the sound of opera, but it is more the feeling of it in your body when you are singing. There is something so satisfying about the sound really vibrating throughout your whole body,” said Harris. “You use the cavities of your skull and chest to make the sound. It’s like when you are in a cave and it echoes, that is kind of what happens in your head. Where if you are singing with a microphone it is doing all the amplification. What you are doing is using your body to amplify the sound.”
Harris is attempting to stretch the boundaries and concepts of classical voice in Biography of a Voice. She said she hopes to expose a new audience by stepping away from the traditions that often come along with the classical music arena.
“I’m hoping people find this is a little more refreshing than opera and left feeling inspired to pursue their own dreams,” said Harris.
Biography of a Voice plays at the Cannery Stage on March 7 to 9 at 7:30 p.m. and a matinee at 3 p.m. on March 10. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors. They are available at Opus Café, CoWork Penticton, The Bench Market, Tumbleweed Gallery and the Penticton Art Gallery.
Harris is asking for community support for her project through an online crowd funding platform at www.indiegogo.com/biographyofavoice/emal/2140534.