It was a night to remember.
Pairing Grade 4 and 5 students from Muheim Elementary with seniors at The Meadows Assisted Living Facility in Smithers, the two groups put on Project Memory, a theatrical performance looking at memories and the thread of connection that weaves throughout all of us, old and young.
The performance itself was written based on a series of conversations between the students and seniors after site manager for The Meadows Valerie Smith connected with the school one day and suggested having some children come to interact with the residents.
But what started as simple relationships blossomed into something much more and Project Memory was born.
“We are truly blessed to be here tonight and… this presentation [is] about memories, sharing memories, but I think that going beyond that it’s about friendships and creating these memories,” said Liliana Pesce, Muheim’s vice-principal and producer of the show.
Beyond the relationships formed throughout the production, the show looked at the importance of sharing memories through generations and acknowledging the threads of interconnectedness they weave between generations.
“I hope as we move forward tonight that we all think of that, the importance of sharing memories — tough ones, good ones — and understanding that … we all contribute to creating these memories with and for each other.”
The show was devised and directed by Vancouver-based professional theatre artist and teacher Susan Bertoia.
And perhaps it’s fitting that, as Bertoia and Pesce explained, they themselves share a mutual childhood memory.
“I won’t say how many years ago but Susan and I were in a Miss Italia pageant when we were 18,” said Pesce with a laugh.
Bertoia said that in recent years Smithers has become almost like a second, home-away-from-home for her and that getting to put together the performance was both fun and rewarding.
“I love what I do, I love that … I can use my art to create stories and to create connections and to knit a fabric of stability of family of friendship,” she said, adding that, now more than ever, arts programs need funding.
“We need to support the arts instead of cutting [them] we need to throw cash at it, we need to support the arts, this is how we build a community, this is how we knit, this is how we love, this is how we grow.”