North Shore playwright goes into the wild
By Gen Handley
When Michelle Riml and her friend went on a camping trip to Haynes Point Provincial Park a few years ago, things did not exactly go as planned.
“We were hoping we’d have this relaxing time, but we instead had to deal with this windstorm and our tent was blowing all over the place,” the Vancouver playwright says with a laugh. “We had to sleep in the car and it wasn’t that fun.”
But instead of wishing she was back in the comforts of home, the North Vancouver native was starting to think about her next play.
“My friend was probably thinking about packing up and going home, but I was thinking this would make a really funny play. I thought, ‘What would Henry and Alice be like in this situation?’”
The story idea born that weekend is called Henry and Alice: Into the Wild, which makes its debut at the Granville Island Stage on April 25, running until May 26. The story resurrects two characters, Henry and Alice Lane, from Riml’s past play, Sexy Laundry, which has been performed across North America, Europe, and South America.
“I actually had no interest in bringing them back after we had done Sexy Laundry,” she says. “But for some reason the idea popped in my head. I wondered how Henry and Alice would do at a campsite. I thought it would be an interesting environment in comparison to the previous play which was at a high-end hotel.”
Not only does Riml place them in a different environment, she also explores timely issues through the characters, who are now facing the challenges and uncertainty of a tough economy. In the play, Henry has recently lost his job and the camping trip is the result of a tighter vacation budget for the couple.
“They had all of these plans and they thought they knew where they were going with their lives,” explains Riml. “A lot of people are facing the fact of losing their job or losing their pension and are like, ‘What do we do now?’’’
Riml says she has learned a lot from the characters she created. “When you’re pointing fingers at somebody else and you’re angry at them, it usually has something to do with me and what I’m scared of,” says Riml, who has been married for 15 years. “I’ve definitely learned to give my husband space and to definitely not argue with him when putting up the tent.”