On Stage

New Voices

How Sweet the Sound


What: How Sweet the Sound

Where: Sylvia Center, 205 Prospect St.


WHEN: 7:30pm Jan. 4-5, 11-12

Cost: $15

Info: http://www.bellinghamtheatreworks.org

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Bellingham TheatreWorks is committed to producing the works of local playwrights and actors, and Eryn Elyse McVay’s How Sweet the Sound truly fits the bill. When the drama focusing on a charismatic leader and the three girls who depend on him for their well-being opens Jan. 4-5 at the Sylvia Center for the Arts, audiences will be introduced to a brave new voice in contemporary theater.

Cascadia Weekly: You say you wanted to tell a story “about young women struggling for freedom of body, action, speech and mind.” Is the content of the play reflected by our current political climate?

Eryn Elyse McVay: When I started the play in January 2016 my only aim was to tell an interesting and compelling story. But now as I reflect on and analyze the finished draft, I realize that, yes, this play is my response to our current political climate, and the dark history of our country.

CW: “Think Faust meets The Handmaid’s Tale set in a timeless, idyllic world” is one of the descriptions of the play. How else would you explain it?

EEM: A magical and quietly brutal world that explores the cycles of abuse and how so many of us participate in perpetuating them, at the detriment to those most vulnerable.

CW: While studying playwriting at Western Washington University, what was the most important lesson you learned about how to tell a tale?

EEM: Playwriting is dialogue, so I learned to make sure that the people speaking are fully formed characters with voices, goals and flaws.

CW: Mark Kuntz is directing the play. Has there been a lot of collaboration with him?

EEM: Yes. I trust his artistic instincts fully, and he encourages an honest and open work environment. Collaborating with Mark is very easy and he always knows when to push, and when to give.

CW: You’re also acting in the production. Since you wrote it, do you find you already know how the character will react?

EEM: Not at all. Acting in my own work has been so exhilarating. My reactions as the character are so dependent on what my scene partner is doing, so I never really know how I’m going to react. It’s helped me as a playwright understand the characters more fully.

CW: The work was selected for the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival. What does this mean for you?

EEM: More than anything the recognition is encouragement that there is room for stories that are a little magical. It’s given me the confidence to pursue a professional playwriting career.

CW: Is there anything else you want readers to know?

EEM: I would just ask our community to support new voices in art. The more that we as consumers choose to spend our time and money on new and emerging voices, the more we will see change within our society. Magnifying voices that have been systemically quieted by supporting new art is a real and tangible way to bring about change.

More ...
FireHouse Studio
The world’s a stage

Evan Mueller stands alone under a spotlight at the FireHouse Arts and Events Center. The professional actor and Western Washington University professor is wearing a casual blue suit, and a wooden cane chair acts as his only prop.

“All the world’s a stage,” he intones, looking meaningfully…

more »
Change of Plans
When the screen is your stage

If all had gone according to plan, Lummi Islanders could’ve turned out in spades this summer to watch theater camp students in grades K-12 explore the age-old rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks during showings of the high school version of the musical West Side Story.

The eighth…

more »
Behind the scenes at the MBT

In a recent video on the Mount Baker Theatre’s website, John Purdie referred to the pandemic-related shutdown of the 93-year-old performing arts venue in downtown Bellingham as an “unplanned intermission,” but said he’s confident the show will eventually go on. As the new executive director…

more »