Jayne and her Nana
by Niah Davis
by Jayne Walling
Niah Davis is a nonbinary, mixed race, emerging artist based in Victoria BC (W̱SÁNEĆ and Lkwungen territories). Niah is a recent graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts’ Enriched Performing Arts, and Applied Performing Arts diploma program. There, they developed their skills as a performer, playwright, and director. As a part of the New Works Festival in their second year, they collaborated with Ciarán Love-Bonneau, a local musician and songwriter to create "Liles: An Original Musical". The experience inspired them to pursue a future in the development of new work and so they are beyond grateful for the opportunity to do that with Puente Theatre.
"First I’d like to say how thrilled I am to be doing WORKPLAY. Though I have been writing for a long time, I have never had a dedicated mentor for playwriting. That is why this residency will be very beneficial to me as an artist because I’ll learn so many new things about the craft and the industry. My new knowledge and skills will, in turn, aid in improving the groundwork and development of my current project. I always strive for cultural authenticity in my work. Puente Theatre’s mandate to act as a bridge between cultures aligns with my goals for this project, and I know their experience will give me and my work the ability to do this respectfully and effectively.
It’s my hope that WORKPLAY helps me solidify my writing style, find my individual voice as a playwright, and fine-tune my writing process so, in the future, I may continue to create and share my work with audiences."
I was raised by a beautiful liar. My mother tells me Nana's done things, unspeakable things but she won't say anything more. I know she was born on an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean where the sugar cane grows high, and she always smelled of French perfume. She became a renowned doctor and had a remedy for every ailment, until they told her she wasn't allowed to practice any more. I was her favorite. I know because she bought me a white plastic Mercedes Benz.
Nana tells the story of a woman rocked by the death of her closest family member, mentor and heroine: her Mauritian grandmother. As she pieces together the fragments of a family past woven with secrets and lies, she begins to question whether the woman she loved was the woman she knew. As the past rises to the surface, how willing is she to risk losing her identity and memories by daring to remove the masks one by one to finally see the face beneath?
Jayne Walling is an international multi-disciplinary artist who is a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, BC, George Brown Theatre School in Toronto and École Philippe Gaulier in France. In Canada, she's worked with companies including Theatre Smith-Gilmour, Caravan Farm Theatre and Green Thumb Theatre as well as performed in numerous independent festivals and cabarets. She founded Red Rabbit Theatre in Paris, Dark Matter Theatre (London/Paris) and Compagnie des Wanderers (Buenos Aires/Paris), touring original shows internationally. In Paris she was a company member of Théâtre de l'Épée de Bois (roles including the title role in La Maison de Bernarda Alba), Compagnie Oz and Théâtre de la Coupe, and was a member of Les Créâteurs des Masques, an association dedicated to the production of contemporary mask theatre. She is interested in creating surreal visual poetry, giving voice to multi-dimensional female characters, and walking the delicate line between tragedy and comedy. Jayne has recently returned home to Vancouver Island after over a decade of living overseas and is thrilled to be embarking on the WorkPlay adventure with Puente theatre for her new play "Nana", based on her Maurician grandmother.