The play tells a story about what happens when people truly learn what it is to be good neighbours.
We’re Already Home is the culminating project of the Interfaith Bridging and Connecting Project which has been holding events to bring the area’s faith communities and other interested people together for more than two years.
Co-writers Arnie Hayashi, Lorna Tureski and Terry Jordan, who is also the dramaturge, guiding the project along the way, have been working for about a year.
“We knew we weren’t limited and we originally wrote five times as many scenes as needed. We decided on two principal families, one Muslim and one Christian, and an Okanagan spirit, and how they related and added characters, one of whom is both two years old and 2,000 years old. The discussion became richer as we worked together,” said Hayashi, who has a paralegal background and was eager to learn about writing and the creative process.
The story and characters came together with suggestions from Jordan, a novelist, playwright and creative writing teacher and former writer-in-residence at Mackie House.
“In any kind of dramatic construction there is a struggle. These characters are people in the world and their faith is part of it. I’m proud of this play and the way we were able to work together. We’ve become good friends and we might write together again.”
What happens in the play is not material to any specific faith but rather to humanity and relationships between people.
“In the end, the characters know each other intimately enough that it is their relationship as people, rather than faith identity that is important. If you don’t really know people, you deprive yourself, as we help each other in our struggles. It takes courage to be vulnerable,” said Tureski, a master of fine arts student at UBC, who was also writing a novel at the time she was taking part in writing the play.
Hayashi agreed that it is easy for people to be comfortable in their own belief systems and not be ready to learn.
“When we let our guard down, we can start making connections and be better people for it. We learned so much with the writing, about the different faiths, what was a serious matter and what was OK to use in a humourous way. There was a lot of research.”
Tureski added, “At first, I didn’t really get how this was going to work but I’m happy I stuck with it. The play is part of the process of bridging and building a sense of community.”
We’re Already Home will be presented as a staged reading with actors with scripts in hand, moving around the stage.
“It’s like a radio play with the audience using their imaginations,” said Jordan, who is also co-director. “The actors are from the community and they’re very good. We think of the play with great affection. As with any fiction project, you want your characters to live on. We feel lucky to have Shon Thomas and his directorial skills. He’s made such a difference; his energy and insight into the play and its characters. We know the play is in good hands now.”
Thomas, drama teacher at Kalamalka Secondary School, who calls this kind of production readers’ theatre, is co-director and helped with the casting.
“We had open auditions and it was a great experience. We had people with theatre experience and those who wanted to learn and people of all ages and backgrounds, someone who grew up here and someone who is new to the area. They are bringing so much to the play and they are all volunteers,” he said.
He thinks that shows people in Vernon acknowledge diversity but can sometimes feel isolated and not know how to connect.
“There is a vibrant arts community with the desire and ability to adapt and the play strikes a chord with those people and the general community,” he said.
“Sometimes we just don’t understand and make assumptions. I like the cultural and religious components with the trickster spirit mix up in the play that make a very realistic sense of good neighbours. I hope the play makes people think and starts a conversation.”
We’re Already Home, presented by the Interfaith Connecting Project, takes place March 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Powerhouse Theatre 2901-35th Ave. Okanagan First Nations will open the evening and there will be ethnic finger foods available at intermission. Ethnic and smart casual dress is encouraged. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the Vernon and District Immigrant Services office or by e-mailing Nola Dibski at email@example.com.