Arts & Culture

Finding human connection at Pacific Theatre

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 2:07 PST, Mon January 13, 2020

Last Updated: 3:53 PST, Wed January 22, 2020

Making an intercontinental move can be a daunting prospect. But when your new landlady treats you more like a servant than a tenant, it’s sure to be even more complicated.

That’s the premise of Maki Yi’s one-woman show Gramma, which has its world premiere this week at Pacific Theatre. Richmond’s Ron Reed founded Pacific Theatre in 1984 with the goal of producing theatre with spiritual significance.

Director Laura McLean sheds light on the play’s messages.

“This show is about the loneliness of making a journey away from home and the fight for life, love, and connection,” she says.

McLean likens the show to a memoir.

“It’s autobiographical non-fiction about the life of creator and performer Maki Yi. It is at times both hilarious and heartbreaking,” she explains.

Yi performs the show, which is based on personal experience, solo. According to McLean, the show’s real-life inspiration makes its action more immediate.

“Working with a performer who is telling their own story onstage is such a rare and powerful experience,” says McLean.

Yi’s last one-woman show, Suitcase Stories, played at Pacific Theatre in 2016. McLean says she was eager to work with Yi on Gramma, adding: “Her life has been incredible and she is such a generous and charismatic performer.”

McLean also praises the theatricality of solo shows. 

“There are many characters, locations, and events that occur over the course of this story, all conjured for the audience by one person. That’s theatre magic for you,” says McLean.

While the show is technically set in Regina, McLean notes that the city is never mentioned by name. “To me it feels like it could take place anywhere in Canada,” she says. “It’s a very relatable story for anyone who has recently moved to the country.”

Gramma asks questions about human connection. McLean describes it as “a window into another person’s unique and extraordinary life,” whether relatable or unimaginable. Sharing unique human stories is one way to connect.

Gramma plays at Pacific Theatre on Granville Street from Jan. 16 to Feb. 1. On Jan. 16, the preview show is “pay what you can,” with no fixed ticket price.

To buy tickets, call 604-731-5518 or visit

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