When playwright Mary Harvey set out to write A Fateful Meeting of Les Femmes Fatales, she intentionally veered away from the “heavy, typical” issues featured in many gay plays.
“I talked to a lot of people about what they might like to see in a play, and what people told me, a lot of the time, was that they would like to see a play that wasn’t about heavy, typical issues that there has been a lot of writing about,” Harvey says, citing examples such as homophobia and AIDS. Instead, she says, she decided to write “something about people who happened to be gay.”
In A Fateful Meeting of Les Femmes Fatales, five friends get together for a murder mystery party only to have the evening sidetracked by their own dramatic plots as the mystery brings out their jealousy, greed and anxiety.
At its core, the play is about relationships, Harvey says. “The variety of relationships we have that are in our lives and some of the patterns we reproduce in relationships. Loving people who are not perfect.”
It’s exactly what Vancouver’s Leaping Thespians were looking for. The all-female acting troupe aims to create theatre that resonates with its audience by reflecting their everyday lives. While the Thespians usually choose to write their own plays, they were instantly taken with Harvey’s work.
“It is years since we produced a play by a playwright outside the group, but we had to jump on this script,” producer Karen White tells Daily Xtra. “We are thrilled to showcase this addition to Canadian lesbian plays. If Mary lived in Vancouver, for sure she would be a Leaping Thespian because she writes like us already.”
Harvey was instantly taken with the Thespians too. “I’ve read a lot about them and met a number of people and talked about a lot of their shows, and I thought I want to approach these people,” she says. She hasn’t been disappointed.
“They have such a joy in creating theatre together. And for me, that’s something I really, really appreciate,” she says. “That’s pretty hard to get in an ensemble group — people who are so happy to be together and enjoying one another’s work.”
In addition to embracing a non-troupe member’s script, the Leaping Thespians are also marking a directorial debut with this production. Since 2001, only White has directed a Thespians production. Though White will still produce this show, Jacqueline Becher, who’s been performing with the group since 2006, will direct it.
“Jacqueline is amazingly detailed. She’s very focused and detailed and she’s just really nurturing every moment, so I feel it’s in very good hands,” Harvey says.