Tara Travis, actor, writer, designer and puppeteer, shared with us the humorous story behind her FemFest Production, Herewithal: A Paranormal Comedy for this week’s blog post. The Artistic Director of Vancouver-based theatre company, Sticky Fingers Productions is responsible for the creation of a variety of theatre that has been enjoyed in venues across the country. Herewithal is sure to fill audiences with laughter, song and brownies at this year’s FemFest.
Herewithal is a play I have felt compelled to write for many years. It was inspired by real-life events that took place over ten years ago. My younger sister, Chay, had gone to see a renowned psychic medium for career advice, and found herself answering a lot of questions posed by a very pushy female spirit. “She says you know Jim.” “Jim my step dad?” “No, she’s saying young Jim.” At the time, Jim, (my now husband and the co-creator/director of this piece) and I had just gotten engaged. His parents had both passed within 5 years prior to our engagement. It was his mother, Louisa, crashing a goodly amount of poor Chay’s reading! She came through with all kinds of details about Jim and his siblings, about details surrounding our wedding, about the doll they buried her with…it was overwhelming. Chay didn’t know anything, she was even feeding wrong information, and yet, Louisa persisted and gave very clear messages. Thus began my obsession with mediumship. The play was originally titled Searching for Dick because at the heart of it is my determination to meet Jim’s dad in the spirit world. Unfortunately, the connotations of his name made it feel like a cheap marketing trick and ultimately did the tale a disservice.
It’s a story about trying to meet the in-laws I never met in life, and all the amazing revelations along the way. My Mennonite grandmother’s messages blow my mind, my maternal grandfather shares life-altering wisdom…but most importantly, Louisa, the mother-in-law I never met, comes through with the secret recipe to her legendary brownies. “If I were there I would teach you to make them,” she says. Well, I try, and I keep trying, and I think I’ve almost got it. I bake a batch during every show. Come witness my bizarre spiritual journey and taste the brownies. Maybe this time I’ll finally get them right.