In the spring of 1982, four neighbors, John Norris, Celesttina Hart, Hank Hastings, and Ruby Truly sat in the grass at the Rosebery railway house & made a plan to collectively create a play with music about the “bust and boom” days of the Silvery Slocan. What followed was an evening to remember in the new performance space at the Silverton Gallery.
“Mine Tailings” was a necklace of vignettes and songs that took the viewer back to the days when there was just a wagon road connecting our villages and a huge concentrator mill whose works straddled that road in Silverton. In 1982, although the mill was gone, you “could still see the burnt timbers” as you drove through the town and the trestle that spanned the road was a highway landmark. The company was made complete by technical director, Howard Bearham, who designed the ever-changing set and created the ghostly lighting (with the newly acquired gallery lights). They would later be joined by “guest director” Meredith Woodward (Theatre Energy).
Mine Tailings would fill the house for two summers and then, fifteen years later, in 1997, the company was invited by the Silverton Gallery to remount the work for their summer season. The performance space walls were now painted white so Koko sewed the black curtains to enable Mine Tailings to work the “black box” magic that is so important to the mood of the piece (as it is a kind of ghost story). The audience now sat on tiered risers and the three actors continued to move set-pieces, change into characters, and sing and dance on the wooden floor. One number featured the “boys from the bunkhouse” with a hat and cane routine using towels as canes (you had to be there). The song, written by Celesttina, “At It In The Addit”, that teaches the “lingo” of the mines, would be sung back to Hank in the Nakusp Hot Springs by two young Alberta visitors the day after the performance. Their dad said his kids made him drive from Nakusp twice to see the play so they could learn that song. They nailed it.
The 30th Anniversary of Mine Tailings will be a one night “reader’s theatre” performance at the Silverton Gallery, September 29, 2012 at 8 pm. Advance tickets only will be on sale September 1 at venues in town. $20. This is a fundraiser for the Silverton Gallery.