>> Mark Dusseault

As Above started with a thought-provoking podcast and a well-timed email. Vancouver-based playwright Christine Quintana, first heard about the science of how trees communicate via fungal networks after listening to an episode of NPR’s Radiolab, which featured an interview with UBC’s famed scientist Suzanne Simard. “I was immediately fascinated with the idea of these invisible connections, all around us and below our feet,” says Quintana. “It felt like an incredibly apt metaphor for the ways that we can feel deeply connected – or disconnected – from our fellow humans.”  Not long after that, the Belfry Theatre’s Artistic Director Michael Shamata extended Quintana the opportunity to write a new play for Victoria audiences. “When I got that email from Michael, I immediately knew what story I wanted to bring to the Belfry.”

As Above tells the story of Jo, a former professor and research ecologist, as she puts her life back together after a battle with alcoholism that transformed her life and severed her relationship with her adult daughter Ada. When she meets Rick, a kind-hearted fellow A.A. attendee, their blossoming relationship opens her up in unexpected ways. A chance encounter with an old friend triggers an alarming phone call from Ada, leading Jo to question her ‘higher power’ and wonder if we are all more connected than we can understand.

“Addiction is such a common but also stigmatized facet of human life,” says Quintana. “I wanted to write a story that honoured the tremendous courage of those who struggle with addiction and imagines a world where deeper connections to nature are a pathway to healing.” Throughout the play’s development, Quintana received input from Tasha Faye Evans, an Indigenous artist with a strong connection to cedars. “There is so much wisdom in the land around us, if we only know how to clear the channels that disconnect us, and learn to listen.”

As Above runs from February 6 to March 3. The Belfry offers Pay-What-You-Want tickets to all their performances. Tickets are available at 250-385-6815 or belfry.bc.ca.