Three years ago, Steve Hill had an idea to write a play for older actresses for whom few meaty roles exist.
Despite naysayers wondering why a man would undertake this project, his play, When I’m 64, is being filmed in Shaw TV’s Campbell River studio.
And the Comox Valley Women’s Business Network will premier the play March 28 at the Sid Williams Theatre as their major fundraiser for L’Arche I Belong!
It’s been quite the journey for Hill.
Writing, workshops, rewriting. Countless rejections. More workshops, writing.
Hill retired as director of pastoral care and ethics at St. Joseph’s Hospital to write full-time. There were readings at Elder College, Comox Probus, three invitations and successful road trips to Victoria.
Last July, the artistic director of Victoria’s Shakespeare by the Sea called Hill’s play, “the best writing for women since Lillian Hellman.”
The stage play-turned-screenplay is being filmed by SRay Productions in co-operation with Shaw TV for primetime broadcasts in 2015.
“We’re totally committed to this project to give the play and actresses a wider audience,” says Shaw manager Chas Leckie.
This marks the first time local television will broadcast local actors in dramatic roles.
Local film locations include the Comox Cenotaph, Remembrance Day, the Comox marina dragon boat dock, and Rhodos Cafe. Local music legend Sue Medley performs her song These Are the Days in the film and will sing live at the Sid on March 28.
Several actresses have enjoyed the roles Hill lovingly created and nurtured for them to play. In the part of Trish, a breast cancer survivor and dragon boater, experienced local stage actor Lynn Hodge is excited to act in front of the camera.
“We might do five or six takes of a particular bit and have to be emotionally up each time. Film is demanding,” says Hodge.
Cameraman Steve Ray, a recent newcomer to the Valley, is a retired filmmaker and educator with 35 years in video production. His dedication to get the right shot is noteworthy.
“I’m amazed by Ray’s patience with film neophytes,” says Patricia Foster, who plays a bag lady.
Hill remembers when his play was just an idea.
Now, the hope he had to create intelligent, meaty roles that explore a rich tapestry of older women’s struggles and triumphs through discovering their own inner wellsprings of strength is being filmed for TV.
Thanks to the Women’s Business Network, it will premiere March 28 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Sid Williams Theatre as a fundraiser for I Belong!
The I Belong! campaign is raising money to build a home for L’Arche Comox Valley to help adults with developmental disabilities.
For tickets to the March 28 performance of When I’m 64, call 250-338-2430 or visit www.sidwilliamstheatre.com