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Tabula rasa resumes

Second annual Blank Slate Theatre Festival returns to Whistler with a roster of talented actors and directors at the helm



What: Blank Slate Theatre Festival

When: Wednesday, Sept. 1 to Saturday, Sept. 4, 8 p.m. & 9:15 p.m.

Where: Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre

Cost: $20 each, $35 double feature

Attendees of the inaugural Blank Slate Theatre Festival probably recognize the woman in the photo posted above: Cara Yeates was the lead (and only) actor in the premiere of Leah Bailly's Some Reckless Abandon last year.

Yeates was awarded the Joanna Marratta Award at the Vancouver Fringe Festival this year in recognition of her contributions to the industry. But this actor is also a producer and writer. She grew up in Victoria and studied performing arts at Dalhousie University in Halifax, where she had the opportunity to work with Danny McIvor, a very well known actor, writer and director in Canadian film and theatre.

"He came and directed one of our shows and his big word of advice was to do the Fringe," Yeates explained.

So she spent the summer in Edinburgh at the "grandmother" fringe, working as a flyer girl mixing and mingling with a range of amazing acts from around the world, including the Flight of the Conchords (in their pre-HBO days).

"That was a really inspiring summer and by the end of it I saw things that blew my mind, I saw things that were absolutely horrific. I thought, 'Well, I could write a fringe show!'"

Her first effort, Knee Deep In Muck, a solo show about tree planting, was a big success. She toured with that show the following year, then wrote another play, Bye Bye Bombay, which is about a young girl who travels to India and gets sucked up into Bollywood culture. She ended up taking that production to the Hollywood Fringe in L.A., and is considering taking it to Edinburgh next year.

"I did my first two and then I really wasn't sure if I was going to do another one. Then I was approached by a girl that I know, who is a brilliant writer, with the third one I did."

That writer was Leah Bailly and the show was Some Reckless Abandon, which was one of the two productions brought to the stage at the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre last summer.

"I was so honoured to be asked to do somebody else's piece and I read it and it was so different from my voice, I just thought I couldn't give up that opportunity."

She was drawn to Bailly's "poetic" writing and her similar "fish-out-of-water" storyline of a non-religious girl who goes to an evangelical bible camp in Honduras. She ended up touring North America with the show.

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