The Myrtle Sisters: singing, dancing and a good porch

The Myrtle Sisters travel from 1921 to 2021, collecting songs and dances. | Photo courtesy of The Myrtle Sisters

The Myrtle Sisters, East Vancouver-based performing artists Candice Roberts, Nayana Fielkov and Kat Single-Dain, are performing their online comical interdisciplinary show Out of Time from May 14–29.

Out of Time reveals their yearning. The sisters are travelling through time and their time machine, a framework for their songs and dances, breaks.

They travel from 1921 to 2021, collecting songs and dances throughout the different decades. But their three-part harmony breaks down in 2021 and the Myrtle Sisters part ways. The suspenseful ending is meant to pose the following questions to the audience: Are these two events related? Could three-part harmony mean more than just singing the right notes? Will the sisters get back together?

Regardless of the dances and stories, the Myrtle Sisters strive to show a connection – to themselves, each other and their community. They feel their purpose is to allow audiences to feel joy in a world full of anxiety.

How it all began

“I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we were all very expressive children,” says Roberts.

Throughout their childhoods, each ‘sister’ was in love with performing, which has only intensified as they grew older. Although the ‘sister’s are not connected by blood, they are connected by their never-ending love and dedication to the arts.

Single-Dain says she was interested in a mixture of creative expression, science and environmentalism. At 39, she is still pursuing new interests and learning ways to merge her talents with newfound skills. She feels her unrelenting dedication to creative pursuits like dance, theatre and music have allowed her to explore her artistry as a Myrtle Sister.

“Doing what I am drawn to, even when sometimes that comes with trepidation or nervous excitement, and remaining curious has led to a life rooted in the arts,” says Single-Dain.

Roberts has been creating costumes, stories, puppets, songs and dances for as long as she can remember.

“[I] was always making shows for my parents, and any guest that would come over!” recalls Roberts.

Fielkov’s love of the arts started early as well; she recalls putting on several reenactments of the Wizard of Oz. Fielkov’s close friend played Dorothy while she played every other character.

The birth of the Myrtle Sisters

“The Myrtle Sisters came out of a combination of character play, music and clown,” Roberts explains. “It developed naturally from our shared interests, and the Myrtle sisters as individuals are all unique caricatures of ourselves. Sometimes we don’t know if art imitates life or life imitates art.”

Single-Dain returned to Vancouver after attending UC Berkeley – where she studied dance and theatre – and started a theatre company called Play More Theatre.

Single-Dain felt it must have been fate when the company was invited to a House Festival, where both Fielkov and Roberts were also participating. The three were beasts meant to scare people just for thirty seconds during the House Festival play but ended up spending five hours in character before and after the show.

The era of simplicity

The essence of the Myrtle Sisters is the era of simplicity. The sisters believe that the internet is amazing, but also detrimental to one’s psychic space.

“We find the joy of singing and dancing to be a way of dipping into that dream, a way of experiencing the here and now. When we get the pleasure of sharing that with an audience, it amplifies in such satisfying ways,” says Fielkov.

The Myrtle Sisters strive to connect to their souls and their dreams by re-enacting a simpler time where the internet was not a distraction.

“The most satisfying moments of life happen off of a screen,” says Single-Dain.

The pandemic

Despite the pandemic hitting theatres hard, the trio has taken the pandemic as a sign of innovation as opposed to one of sadness.

When the lockdown ends, the sisters hope to increase their production value and include Paul Hendriks on the wash tub bass and Steven Drake on the slide guitar or the full sisters’ group with Kathleen Nesbit on the upright bass, Devora Laye on washboard percussion and Clara Rose on the fiddle in their theatre performances as well.

For more information about the show and the Myrtle Sisters please visit the following sites:

www.surrey.ca/news-events/events/out-of-time-myrtle-sisters

www.themyrtlesisters.com

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