Why Now Theatre Collective
Why now? Why not! After a successful world premiere in Vancouver Fringe 2023, the team behind A Life Sentence formed Why Now Theatre Collective to continue bringing A Life Sentence to more audiences. Based on the unceded territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations, our mission is to create innovative, poignant and critical conversations through theatre.
A Life Sentence
Grappling with the trauma of childhood abuse and the pressure of a life changing investigation, Gwen risks everything for the possibility of justice. Spanning 3 decades from the 70s through the 90s, and yet resonant in the wake of #MeToo, A Life Sentence is a British Columbian story of real lived experiences and verbatim transcripts.
A Life Sentence was originally produced at Studio 58 as a part of Fourplay 2020 but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It subsequently had it's world premiere in Vancouver Fringe 2023 with an entire cast and crew of Studio 58 graduates, and is gearing up for a 2024 tour.
Keep up to date on social media @whynowtheatre.
"...a vibrantly navigated story of darkness... an uncomfortable watch, but a necessary one" -Stir Vancouver
"...an incredibly moving experience for me. It had my blood pumping and my eyes tearing up throughout. The performances coupled with the skillful direction of such a delicate subject matter blew me away." -Vancouver Fringe Patron
Logan Fenske as JOHN and Alina Blackett as GWEN. Photo by Patrick Conaty
Stir Vancouver Q&A and Review:
Playwright, Co-Director and Performer Jarred Stephen Meek was featured in Stir Vancouver with a Q&A about A Life Sentence. Check it out here to learn more about the show and the process!
Stir also graciously attended and reviewed A Life Sentence:
“If Hope were a colour,” Alina Blackett’s Gwen says at the start of A Life Sentence, “it would be beige.” The ensuing performance, on the other hand, is a vibrantly navigated story of darkness. Based on the true experiences of playwright Jarred Stephen Meek’s mother in 1970s Hope, B.C., Gwen is sexually abused from age nine by her radio broadcaster father John (Logan Fenske).
Blackett is aptly anxious and frantic as Gwen, spurred by a fear of her abuser. In return, Fenske’s John is a drawling, drunken menace; his sideburns, handlebar stache, and wife-beater tank complete an image of old-fashioned intimidation that contrasts his respected radio persona.
Gwen’s childlike wonder shines through in an impromptu belting of Johnny Nash’s “I Can See Clearly Now” with her best friend Lisa (Sofie Kane), and in her passion for horseback riding; but it’s ripped away from her when her father forces a deeply unsettling slow dance between them.
The shock of gunshots, plus the foreshadowing of a funeral, cast an ominous tone throughout the show. It’s an uncomfortable watch, but a necessary one—we see the long-term effects of childhood trauma on full display as a woman chases justice.
Alina Blackett as GWEN. Photo by Patrick Conaty
In 2021, Jarred published a companion book to the play, called Picture Parfitt: The Ups and Downs of City Raised People in a Country Style Life.
"Sitting back and re-reading these pages, it's a wonder we all made it- but they never complained about their nomadic way of life." says Barbara Parfitt on her years of farm and city life.
Picture Parfitt recounts the sometimes less than ideal, but somehow always perfect adventures of a family of 7, plus a farm full of animals. From a -68°C isolated Christmas, a face off with a bull moose, and the adventures of Piggy the, you guessed it, pig, you'll be sure to laugh and cry your way through this heartfelt journey.
Edited and published by her grandson, Jarred Stephen Meek, the book was originally written on a typewriter by Barbara as a way for her children to hold onto some of their happier and more adventurous memories. In 2021, having lost her memories to dementia, the book was published and given to Barbara so she could have a first hand account of her memories from her own point of view. Barbara, the inspiration behind Betty, passed away in February 2023 after an over 5 year journey with Dementia.
Picture Parfitt is available here on Amazon.