Solo performer in two shows at The Merc

Photo courtesy of Wendy O’Connor Storyteller Michèle La Rue will bring history to life in solo performances at The Merc Playhouse Saturday and Sunday.

Photo courtesy of Wendy O’Connor
Storyteller Michèle La Rue will bring history to life in solo performances at The Merc Playhouse Saturday and Sunday.

By Ann McCreary

A solo performer brings to life two tales from America’s past in two shows at The Merc Playhouse on Saturday (Sept 24) and Sunday (Sept. 25).

Actress Michèle La Rue creates a cast of distinctive characters in this “story hour for grownups.” She will perform a story called “The Bedquilt,” written in 1906, and “A Quilting Bee in Our Village,” written in 1898.

The stories take listeners back to days of small towns and farms, and simpler — but often harder — lives.

But the loves, longing and laughter of people in those days remain relevant and engaging today, and La Rue shares these vintage stories in a repertoire that she performs nationally.

“The art of storytelling … is the most stripped-down kind of theater,” said Ki Gottberg, artistic director of The Merc.

Gottberg said she wanted to bring La Rue to the Methow Valley because she believes her storytelling will resonate with and perhaps inspire valley residents.

“I think there are people in the Methow Valley who are storytellers and they don’t even know it,” she said.

“There are so many stories in the valley, and we know that. What if there was a possibility of getting people to write and tell stories — inspire them to possibly create their own work?”

The Methow also has its share of history buffs, who will appreciate La Rue’s art, Gottberg said.

“She brings history to light through these first-person narratives. She brings the whole panoply of characters to life through the most simple kind of performance.”

The common thread of La Rue’s two stories — quilting — will also appeal to the population of quilters in the valley, Gottberg said. “A quilt is a kind of story in its own way,” she said.

As a backdrop to these two stories with quilting as a theme, The Merc is displaying dozens of “mini-quilts” created by local artists. People attending the show will be able to vote for their favorite “people’s choice” quilt.

Saturday’s performance is a 7 p.m., and the Sunday performance is at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 to $18. Limited reserve seating is available through online sales at www.merplayhouse.org.