Hank Hastings and Ruby Truly are excited to be putting on a reading of the Silverton play ‘Mine Tailings.’

Delving deep into mountain stories

Every 15 years, Mine Tailings, a play about Silverton history has just happened to find its way to the public stage.

“It’s not why they came, it’s why they stayed,” Ruby Truly remarked about what makes the stories about people who came to live in Silverton so intriguing. Truly and Hank Hastings, who are putting on a dramatic reading of Mine Tailings, stopped by the Arrow Lakes News to talk about the play and its cycle of public performance.

Every 15 years, Mine Tailings, a play about Silverton history has just happened to find its way to the public stage. During its original run back in the early 80s, the play ran two shows a week in the summer for two years, telling the stories of the people in the valley. Fifteen years later, the original cast was invited to remount the production and bring history to life again for the people who had missed it, moved to the area or been born during the intervening decade and a half.

This September, another 15 years later, the cast is back to present a public reading of the play, not only to tell the stories once again, but also in honour of playwright John Norris who passed away last year.

“We did a reading for John and a few friends and it went really well,” said cast member Ruby Truly.

Norris, who was born in Silverton, authored the book Old Silverton, which was one of the products of his historical research. Wanting to try writing a play, when a radio play he and Truly had been working on fell through, he ended up rewriting some of the stories into a stage play that sketched the history of the area.

All of the play’s characters, except one, are based on real historical people, and when the play was first performed, there were many people who recognized the real “characters” and their stories.

“We mentioned folks in the play that old timers said they knew,” Hastings said.

“They were so thrilled they were being honoured in this way,” Truly recalled.

Although the actors, reaping the benefit of the wisdom of years, have decided not to put on a full stage performance, the reading will still be a dramatic performance, thanks in large part to guest director Susie O’Donnell and David Everest, guest technical director.

“There’s a whole beautiful look to it… It was magic,” said Ruby about the rehearsals.

Hastings, for his part, believes they could have handled the hectic pace of a full performance, four actors playing over a dozen parts. Maybe, said Ruby, but in another 15 years we’ll all be in our 80s, so I don’t think there will be any question then. It sounds like there may be a repeat performance in another decade and a half after all.

Because there are several songs in the play, Hastings believes it could also be recast as a small musical, which could carry Mine Tailings on to another generation of performance.

Truly too was excited by the prospect of the piece being put on in seniors’ centres in the area.

“There are so many names that are streets or creeks and mountains,” she said, it’s so wonderful to hear about where they came from, and if the families have stayed in the valley along with the names.

The Saturday performance of Mine Tailings is sold out, but a Sunday matinee is being held at 2 p.m. Revenues from the play are being donated to the Silverton Gallery.