Carlo Marks is stoking Tofino’s theatrical flame.
Marks grew up with the Clayoquot Sound Community Theatre his parents helped build and is now hoping to restore the locally flavoured performances he believes gelled the community.
“My parents built the community theatre and ran it. My sister and I were coming of age at that time and this was before babysitters so we were playing around the theatre. We watched productions go up, we watched my mom paint sets and my dad build sets, so it was in our blood so to speak,” Marks said.
“I saw the community coming together, which was a real cool thing about growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s in Tofino. It was a smaller community and there would be concerts or theatre productions and it would be an event that everybody knew about…There wasn’t this saturation that there is now with so many people and so many things and so much money involved. It felt more like a community.”
While the theatre remains a prominent staple in the Tofitian social scene with Monday night movies and performances from out of towners—including a live-recording of Stuart McLean’s ‘Vinyl Cafe’ last year—Marks, who has spent the past decade working as a professional actor in Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver, returned to Tofino about two months ago ready to restore its local vibe.
Locals packed into the theatre on Friday to experience Marks’ production of ‘The Dreamer Examines his Pillow’ by pulitzer prize winning playwright John Patrick Stanley. Marks stars in the play along with his father Gary and Sophie L’Homme.
“It’s dealing with love and sex and romance and confusion and fears; these things that any human being understands or will see themselves reflected in,” Marks said adding Friday’s positive reception was appreciated by the actors.
“You’re doing this for people to watch. You want people to enjoy it and to be engaged…The audience is just as big a part of it as the people on stage.”
He said prior to Friday’s opening night, the theatre had not hosted a local production for roughly 15 years.
“A community like Tofino deserves something like this…Theatre, more than any other art form, is a direct examination of who we are as people, as society, as individuals,” he said.
“Theatre is one of those third place gathering places that’s essential to keep a community get together…People come and examine themselves through actors and it’s a place for people to gather talk and think about things.”
He explained ‘third places’ are spaces where locals meet outside of their home or workplace to mingle collaborate and grow together. He added community theatre brings opportunities for locals to experience acting.
“Another thing about community theatre that’s so great is that people who have never acted will get to find themselves acting; you’ll see your friends acting and your family acting,” he said.
“It’s such a scary thing to do but some of the best actors are non actors and, when you push yourself past that comfort zone, it can be really really exciting and that’s one of the things that’s great about community theatre that you can’t get in professional theatre; you know the people onstage and you’re rooting for them because you know how hard it is to share yourself and be vulnerable and reveal yourself.”
Marks hopes his current production sets the stage for regular theatre experiences to return.
“I’m dipping my toes in the water. We’ll see how this one goes. Hopefully people will come out and support it. That’s key; we need people to come,” he said.
“Hopefully this will pave the way for more of them because these communities have become so busy. Especially in the summer. It’s like a gold rush. Everybody’s working as hard as they can to make all the money for the wintertime but, I think, it’s important to retain a sense of community so Tofino’s not just a place where people come to make money and then leave…There is a community here that’s not a transient hub kind of thing.”
Performances of ‘The Dreamer Examines his Pillow’ will run on July 15, 16, 22 and 23. Tickets are available at the Common Loaf Bakery, Mermaid Tales and online.
“It’s a great night of theatre in Tofino,” Marks said. “The actors have put a lot of work into it. It’s engaging and I think everybody will see at least a part of themselves on stage.”