Confessions of the Other Woman: Valerie Sing Turner

Playwright and actress, Valerie Sing Turner speaks about Confessions of the Other Woman, an upcoming production from Urban Ink.

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Artists tend to be reluctant to talk about their work. Could it be superstition before the curtain rises? I was thrilled to catch Valerie Sing Turner in between hundreds of other things on her plate, preperations for her mainstage play, Confessions of the Other Woman, premiering February 29th at Performance Works, as well as the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and the Evergreen Cultural Centre.

The story of the most anticipated show of Urban Ink production's 2012 season started in 2004, when Valerie took part in Canada's National Voice Intensive and met the play's now co-director, Gerry Trentham, then the movement instructor on faculty. Gerry's academic rhetoric and Valerie's firm contempt of the cold, early morning classes, left the pupil's mind wandering during class.

"There wasn't an initial connection when we first met," she explains.

To commemorate the completion of the workshop, students and faculty got together for a potluck dinner, which involved blurry figures and drunken dance-offs. As the night progressed, Valerie fell into an "in-your-own-head" dancing mood; then suddenly a Sinatra tune played.

Before the speakers knew it, Valerie and Gerry became a momentary Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers duo -- or so the couple thought. Though she didn't realize it at the time, the artistic connection made that night was the start of the collaborative production that would become Confessions of the Other Woman.

The two crossed paths again at another workshop in 2005 facilitated by Gerry, where Valerie explored her writing muscles. Struggling to juggle the demands of performing a three-show opening weekend of a play at Pacific Theatre, carousing with friends and preparing for Gerry's workshop, Valerie wrote a passionate paragraph on the fly which would be the first building block of Confessions of the Other Woman, a story that isn't simply about adultery, but rather how it fits in a woman's perception of herself as modern and independent. "When discussing the topic of romantic infidelity, we rarely venture past a superficial judgment of the women involved," explains Valerie.

The form of the play itself involves: dance, text, movement, and projection which is aimed to allow further insight into the play's characters. The playwright's general dissatisfaction with the use of multimedia in theatre is what motivated her to involve these features. "We're attempting to break down the boundaries between various artistic forms and I'm hoping that the impact on the audience will be a fully integrated and relatable narrative".

With a Chinese grandmother played by African-Canadian actor Matt Ward, a male lead played by Kevin Loring of indigenous blood, and Valerie herself playing the title character, Confessions of the Other Woman diffuses cultural borders and provides an inclusive experience to all Canadians. The piece is directed by Diane Roberts and Gerry Trentham.

"Every single one of us is descended from immigrants, except for the First Nations peoples," said Sing Turner.

"As an artist of colour, it is very important to me that my world is reflected in my work."

To learn more about Confessions of the Other Woman click here.

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