Dancer, actor, playwright and, soon, speech therapist
If Marleis Bowering were to point to a pivotal time in her short, artistic life, she would trace her journey back to Harvey.
For that show, her drama coach at Port Coquitlam’s Archbishop Carney regional high school cast her in the lead of Veta Louise Simmons — a role that won her standing ovations when it was staged in 2009.
Then, she was in Grade 10 and one of the youngest actors in the drama.
“Most of the cast was senior and I learned so much from them,” the 17-year-old Coquitlam resident recalled. “I really started to feel that I was good at this acting thing.”
A year later, teacher Charles Harris cast her as the Wicked Witch in the school’s The Wizard of Oz production; on the side, she continued taking part in shows at St. Catherine’s Anglican Church, something that the award-winning dancer had done since 2006.
This year, thanks in part to Harris — who calls his protege “one of the Tri-Cities’ rising stars” — Bowering added another title to her resume: playwright.
Harris steered Bowering towards E-stage 2011, a program for young playwrights at the Vancouver Playhouse, of which Bowering was accepted after submitting her original short play Ill At Ease.
In that intensive course, Bowering, along with nine other students including Kanita Lawton of Coquitlam’s Pinetree secondary, delved into the world of script writing, critiqued plays with guest artists and created work under the guidance of playwright and director Amiel Gladstone.
Her short play — called Best in Business, a drama about the masks we wear to hide our daily troubles — was performed at the April 26 showcase; it won an honourable mention for the Darlene S. Howard Award for Excellence in the Arts.
The two actors assigned to perform Bowering’s play, Lindsey Angell and Daniel Arnold, “did it justice,” Bowering said, her eyes lighting up. “They were very aware that this was a big deal for me.”
Hearing her words come from an actor’s mouth “was just amazing,” she said. “To see it performed live really boosted my confidence and, now, I really want to pursue this playwright thing.”
Already, she has at least one script completed — and, as of last month, one on the go, though she’s mum about its plot. In February, Bowering penned a comedy called A Great Deal of Value, which centers on a lively discussion at the dinner table of an Italian family.
Bowering submitted it to the Youthwrite 2011 contest sponsored by the Association of BC Drama Teachers, which chose it to be presented at its provincial SEARS high school drama festival last month at Douglas College (in the end, it wasn’t shown because of high costs).
This September, Bowering plans to attend the University of Victoria on scholarship — but not for anything arts related.
She intends to study psychology that will lead her to a job in speech-language pathology, a career path that was recommended to her by a family friend.
Her reasoning? “Because of acting, I have a pretty strong voice and I feel that I can help people with their words and self confidence,” Bowering said. “I can help people, like children with autism or down syndrome, articulate and help them get their message across. Communication is very important.”
Still, Bowering won’t let her playwriting fall by the wayside during her university years; another script and a novel will be written, she vowed.
Ultimately, her dream is to see one of her plays performed on a New York stage.
“I love acting and I love dancing but it’s all about me when I’m up there. Playwriting, I think, is more permanent. It’s relevant. And it doesn’t get old.”
• To nominate a 2011 grad for the Bright Young Things series, email email@example.com.