Fresh-baked cookies, hand-knitted sweaters or a hot cup of tea — all items commonly associated with grandmothers. But Maeve is not your typical grandmother.
Maeve is a grandmother synonymous with burning bras, feminist literature, rainbow flags and dyke marches.
In Old Dyke Tales, Maeve’s granddaughter Zoë Wessler from Tsawwassen weaves together verbatim perspectives of four generations to tell the true story of this matriarch, who dared to set aside the societal and religious expectations of 1970s Catholic suburbia in order to discover her sexuality and true self.
The one-woman show combines poetry, puppets, politics, prayer and personal interviews into the story of daughter, mother, grandmother and lover.
Wessler, who created the show, was born and raised in Tsawwassen. She attended South Delta Secondary and its drama program/film acting academy in her last two years of high school.
She also founded the The Young Bards on the Bay as well as Knockout Theatre, two Tsawwassen theatre companies for young people that performed at Boundary Bay Regional Park and Earthwise Garden multiple times.
Old Dyke Tales has been on stage in Winnipeg and makes its debut in Vancouver later this month.
“I have always viewed my grandmother as the epitome of strength, wisdom and female agency, but I never knew from where these admirative qualities derived,” said Wessler. “Thus, this project was born. I am discovering a 40-year-old story that has been right in front of me my whole life, waiting to be told — a story not only belonging to my grandmother, but to her parents, children and grandchildren.
“(It’s) a story that gives voice to the queer senior community, and to those who, decades ago, laid the groundwork of equality and radical acceptance so that my generation can feel safe in their sexualities today.”
Wessler said at first her grandmother was apprehensive towards sharing her life, her “small life” as she called it, on stage.
“It took a few months of living room interviews and deep life chats over mugs of Earl Grey for my grandmother to realize the significance in her story, and the value it can have for audiences.”
Old Dyke Tales will be at the Havana Theatre (1212 Commercial Dr., Vancouver) Aug. 21 to 25 at 8 p.m.
Tickets are available for $10 to $15 plus service fees through olddyketales.brownpapertickets.com or cash only at the door on the day of the performance.