The Other Guys Theatre Company’s revue Flotsam and Jetsam is coming to the Malaspina Theatre on Sept. 23. Photo courtesy Peter Pokorny

Flotsam and Jetsam brings musical history lesson to Nanaimo

TheatreOne puts the history of the B.C. coast to music in its season opener at the Malaspina Theatre

TheatreOne’s 2017-18 MainStage season kicks off on Saturday (Sept. 23) with a musical exploration of the history of the British Columbian coast.

Victoria’s Other Guys Theatre Company is bringing its musical revue Flotsam and Jetsam to the Malaspina Theatre stage at Vancouver Island University. The multimedia show features original folk music written about the people, places and events of coastal B.C.’s past.

Other Guys artistic director Ross Desprez said there aren’t many stage shows that tell the stories of the coast, and with Flotsam and Jetsam he and show co-creator Tobin Stokes hope to fill that void.

“We’re from the coast and we’re interested in creating work that speaks to our history and our culture and we want to write shows that appeal to the people that live here,” Desprez said.

“There are enough plays coming out of England and the United States and plays written by 400-year-old Brits. We get lots of that stuff but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot about our own history and our own culture, so we started getting into that a few years ago.”

Desprez and Stokes first put the show together two summers ago, following the success of a similar project, Good Timber, a musical revue based on the work compiled by mid-century logger and poet Robert Swanson of Nanaimo. During the performances archival photography and video played in the background, an element that resurfaces in “Flotsam and Jetsam.” Desprez said The Other Guys’ local stories are connecting with their audience.

“People like to hear about themselves and they like to hear about their own history and they like to hear stories they know and then learn things that maybe they didn’t know about the area they live in,” he said.

Although the production focuses on the region’s past, Desprez said the show’s overarching message speaks to the present.

“We all like to think of the coast as our home, but very few of us actually started here and we’re all immigrants from somewhere else, which I think makes it pretty relevant to what’s happening in the world today and a lot of the songs in it pretty much resonate with the politics of today,” he said.

“By the end [of the show] I think everybody realizes that year we’re all from somewhere else, but now we call this home and we appreciate it. Everybody likes the natural beauty of British Columbia and the outdoors and the freedoms that we have here and I think that’s the overall message is that even though we didn’t start here, we all really love being here and want to call this our home.”

WHAT’S ON … The Other Guys Theatre Company’s Flotsam and Jetsam will be performed at VIU’s Malaspina Theatre on Saturday (Sept. 23) at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Admission is $29.

Nanaimo News Bulletin