You don’t really know what to expect of a one-man play that begins with a bearded senior in overalls walking onto the stage and sitting down in his overused easy chair. A small side table is piled with junk food, a bottle of whisky and a TV remote.
Those of us of a certain age might wonder if we’re about to hear a politically incorrect, embarrassingly hilarious rant from an Archie Bunker-like curmudgeon. But the man’s first words are, “I’ve been thinking about my life lately, you know, how I live my life…”
Those kinds of thoughts never would have been found anywhere near the Bunker mentality. They suggest insight, or at least a questioning of one’s attitudes, habits and actions. What plays out over the next 80 minutes or so (plus intermission) is an externalized inner dialogue – funny, touching, and perhaps starkly familiar – that protagonist Josh shares with us in this prize-winning monologue written and acted by Gibsons’ Lucas Foss.
Interviewed prior to two performances of the play this week at Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons, Foss, 67, said he’d dabbled in writing and acting for years while living in the Lower Mainland and working on the services faculty at Capilano University on the North Shore. In 1999, he was, as they say, struck by the muse – spontaneously inspired to create Josh and explore his character. “I felt this huge calling to start writing,” he recalled. “That’s when I wrote the first 40 minutes of Little Voices. It was very easy, it just flowed out of me. But I didn’t have any way of knowing if it was good.”
He soon found out. Foss submitted the work as a 40-minute monologue to Theatre BC’s Canadian National Playwriting Competition and it won the Special Merit Award. “That encouraged me,” he said. As it would. Foss soon realized it wasn’t long enough for a complete show that people might come out and pay for, so in 2000 he wrote the second half, “which flowed really well, too,” he said.
Since then, Foss, who moved to Gibsons four years ago, has performed Little Voices from Ottawa to Victoria. “Most people feel it’s funny and sad,” Foss reflected. “We’re all a little funny and sad. The play is sort of an invitation to wake up a little bit. If it can be part of the thread of somebody’s growing, developing consciousness, of just one person in the theatre, then that would make me so happy.”
The latest production, a fundraiser for the Rotary Clubs of Gibsons and Sechelt, and directed by Foss’s long-time theatrical mentor Scott Swan, runs at the Playhouse the evenings of Friday, Sept. 20 and Saturday, Sept. 21. Tickets are $21.59 and can be bought online at secheltrotary.ca, at Laedeli in Gibsons, Wilson Creek Shell, and the Sechelt Visitor Centre, or by calling 604-740-5900.