Surrey’s newest community theater group has ambitious plans to create ‘a safer place to create’ somewhere in Newton, to make up for what its founder calls a lack of places in the town where people ‘can hang out’ express and learn new things and just connect with people and be yourself.
Pivot Theater kicks off this month with a production of “My Blue Heaven” at the Newton Cultural Centre, where three actors – Kevin Ibbotson, Leaminn Ma and Beck Marie – will star in Jane Chambers’ couple-centric play, set in 1975.
Margaret Shearman is the founder of Pivot, artistic director and producer of its first-ever show, which debuts Thursday, March 17.
“It’s a really good soft comedy, which I thought was a good starting point because everyone seems to need something to distract themselves, something easy and fun, and it’s on point” , Shearman explained.
“And that’s part of our mandate,” she added, “because it’s about two women who are partners in life, and that just normalizes people as people. was nice to find a comedy that actually dealt with the subject of lesbianism as not being this huge problem, you know, or everything happening to them because of it.
Pivot became a post-pandemic project for a core of nearly 15 people, after the company’s launch plans were delayed by COVID.
“Rather than doing all this work only to find out that we couldn’t perform the play, due to changing restrictions, we decided to work more on the infrastructure of the theater (company) and get it right from the first shot,” Shearman explained.
She lives in Newton and aims to make downtown a key part of Pivot’s future, with the help of others in various roles, including Kayt Roth, Maddy Stenstrom, Tesla Lively, Jarod Boots, Lyn Verra- Lay, Emily Wheeler, Makayla Leonard, Barb Eisinger and Heaven Lively, as well as the three actors from “My Blue Heaven”. Right now they’re rehearsing at Shearman’s, but hopefully not for future shows.
“We’re trying to find space right now, to start with – somewhere we can use pretty much 24 hours a day, do things like kids classes, volunteer daycare, workshops, shows. midnight, and I want to turn the concession into a little cafe so people can just be, and a thrift store too, because we have to be self-sufficient to be able to do the things that we want to do.
“We want it to be more of a community venue, for fashion shows and pageants and festivals, all sorts of things, rather than just a place to go when there’s a show on,” Shearman added. “Yes, these are big plans, and I don’t want to sound selfish, but I could see us branching out to other parts of Surrey, bringing people together and creating – just a safer and more fun place for people.”
Pivot’s motto is “a safer place to create” because, as Shearman says, some people just don’t feel safe, period. The company invites everyone to join, including those who are LGBTQ, BIPOC, Two-Spirit, white, cisgender, and disabled, to create theater shows and other visual and performance arts.
In August 2021, Pivot Theater held a garage sale to raise funds for its first production. This followed the merger of the Surrey Little Theater and the Langley Playhouse, ending Surrey’s 59-year theater history. A member of the company, Shearman says the exit of Surrey Little Theaters from Surrey has created something of a vacuum.
“We aim to be a place of support,” Shearman noted. “We think this is missing in Surrey, especially since the Surrey Little Theater closed. I think Surrey is big enough for probably five community theatres, and they wouldn’t even overlap – Surrey is huge. That’s the good thing about theater because it’s a place where people can go and be themselves, no matter who they are. We need smarts, eccentricity, talent and ideas, because it’s a creative place, isn’t it. Regardless of gender, orientation, economic status, none of that.
Kayt Roth conducts “My Blue Heaven,” March 17-19 and again March 24-26, with matinee and evening performances on Saturdays at the theater, 13530 72 Ave. Show tickets are $25 on the Ticket Owl websiteor visit pivottheatre.ca for more details.
The storyline follows Molly and Josie, a longtime couple who have ripped off stakes and moved from New York to a rundown old farmhouse upstate. Josie revels in her new life as a farmer; Molly tries to find her muse while she’s still reeling from losing her teaching job due to the publication of her book, “Living the Good Gay Life.” Their peace and quiet is interrupted by a pair of individuals who try to use their domestic lives to further their own agendas.
“In today’s cacophony of differing opinions, depicting the everyday is more important than ever,” says Roth. “Josie and Molly are a duo like any other, with the same hardships, jokes and hiccups experienced by every other long-term couple.”