Fernwood’s Pamela Bethel will be premiering After the Beep, which uses phone messages from Bethel’s private teen phone line in a part confessional, part show-and-tell performance, as part of UNO Fest which runs from May 17 to 27. Contributed photo

Lost tapes illustrate hilarity of adolescence

Fernwood performer one of 17 at UNO Fest

It took Pamela Bethel several years before she could bring herself to listen to tapes she had tucked away in a small box in her home.

As a teenager growing up in Vancouver, Bethel had her own phone line and answering machine which friends and family would leave messages on. When she was 18 years old, Bethel packed up and moved out of her parent’s house, but instead of throwing away the two tapes in the answering machine, she decided to put them in a box and store them away.

It wasn’t until recently, when Bethel was in the process of moving again that she uncovered the tapes and felt ready to listen to them for the first time in 25 years.

“Hearing the voices, there are some people I still know, hearing those people as younger people, it made my heart melt. Some of it was just plain funny,” said Bethel.

Now, those messages are part of a performance the Fernwood resident is premiering at the 20th annual UNO Fest beginning this week.

After the Beep is a comedic monologue that explores the secret language of adolescence and memory and delves into the messiness of an in-between period of life that shapes all adults, but that many of us would prefer to keep off the record.

“Even the mundane (messages) are precious because they capture the day-to-day life, the stuff you don’t usually think about keeping, which is sometimes the most beautiful archive,” Bethel said.

“I hope it (the performance) will allow people to reflect on some of their own experiences either as a teenager or even just on other potentially uncomfortable times in their lives.”

After the Beep is one of 15 shows by 17 artists from Toronto, San Francisco, New York, Victoria and Vancouver that will be performed at UNO Fest May 17 to 27. This year’s festival features a wide range of contemporary performance styles that meld genres.

Heather Lindsay, executive director of Intrepid Theatre and UNO Fest curator, said there’s something for everyone.

“They’re all very brave and honest within all of the hilarity and comedy. There’s always a very intimate, exciting truth to everything where everyone is putting their heart on their sleeves and having fun with an idea that’s really close to them that makes for such a fun, creative evening,” she said.

After the Beep hits the stage May 18 to 19 at Intrepid Theatre Club. For more information about UNO Fest visit intrepidtheatre.com.

kendra.wong@vicnews.com