Nicolle Nattrass says turning 50 years old is a rite of passage and it’s a topic that the Lantzville playwright delves into in her latest solo show, Suddenly 50.
“I think we hear a lot of cliché things about mid-life,” Nattrass said. “For men they’re in mid-life crisis, they’re going buy a new car or have an affair, and I think for women there’s actually very little written about what women face at mid-life. So I wanted to give voice to that experience.”
Nattrass said the premise of the play, inspired by true events, is “suddenly you’re 50 and you find yourself on an all-inclusive vacation with your aging parents” and coming to terms with mid-life.
“As you head up into your 50s, if you’re a woman, you’re dealing with all kinds of hormonal changes and the hot flashes and all the things that people talk about that you try to ignore in your 20s, 30s, and 40s,” she said.
She’ll be giving a sneak peek of the play on Aug. 28 via the online videoconference platform Zoom as part of the Playwrights Guild of Canada PlayConnect reading program. It’s the first time she’s read from the play since presenting an early draft at a reading at VIU last fall. She said the purpose of the PlayConnect program is for playwrights to engage their communities and share their process while getting feedback from their audience.
She said at last year’s reading she unexpectedly received some helpful pointers from first-year students.
“I do expect that it will be different [this year] because I won’t be able to be in-person, connecting with the feedback,” she said. “I’ll be getting it via Zoom, in the chat, which will be a little bit strange, but I’m hoping to get feedback from various age groups in terms of what works, what’s impactful, what they’re left with.”
Nattrass said she can’t keep the humour out of her writing but in Suddenly 50 she’s married it with a serious tone. Aside from her own life, she also draws from interviews with friends and their experiences with turning 50.
“It was really funny because people were like, ‘Oh, it was no big deal,’ but then as you talk to them they’re like, ‘Well, actually I quit my job, I made this huge life decision, I moved, my husband and I split up.’ They’re actually quite significant things but it’s funny how we brush off those things.”
WHAT’S ON … Nicolle Nattrass presents Suddenly 50 via Zoom on Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. A link to the reading will be posted here.