Artistic treasure in other people’s trash at ‘Patch’

Photo by Raymond Fryer

Explore humanity, monstrosity, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

By Sharon Miki, Humour Editor

You, me, and everyone we know lives in a world where the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a real, though often ignored, place—but an upcoming local play, Patch, is set to make us notice in a thoughtfully trashy way.

Patch is a one-act fantasy play conceived, written, and directed by Alyssa Kostello, an award-winning Capilano University graduate. Set in 2014, the play—which Kostello says was inspired by the Pacific Garbage Patch and the effects that it’s having on the albatross— explores the culture shock that occurs when a humanized albatross-inspired bird named Alby (played by Julia Christina Ray) crash-lands onto the Garbage Patch. There she meets a plasticized 1950s woman named Debra (played by Nhi Do) and her creature made out of trash, Little Drew (played by Michelle Vine). Tensions grow as Alby yearns to return home to her ailing family, whilst Debra yearns for Alby to stay. After all, Debra has been living with nothing and no one but garbage for 60 years.

Stories of family, longing, and loneliness are not new—but the setting of Patch is. Indeed, setting the story in humankind’s modern-day sludge of ecological shame is a bold choice, but Kostello asserts that upon learning of the real-world Patch, the location itself was her entry into the story.

“I didn’t want to write a play that was really preachy, telling people that garbage is bad and they should recycle or that sort of thing… I wanted to have [the Great Pacific Garbage Patch] as a setting for the play, so I began with the [Patch] and then tried to figure out what the story was,” says Kostello. “Patch ended up becoming more of a fantasy play, or surreal, so with more interesting characters, and the messages being a bit more subtle in the background so that the story itself wasn’t about the problem—but the problem was a setting that you can’t avoid.”

Aside from the obvious entertainment-value of a ’50s girl, a trash creature, and a human-bird struggling to resolve interpersonal conflict in a pile of garbage (which is made out of trash compiled from the cast, crew, and donations), Kostello hopes audiences will be inspired by Patch.

“I’m hoping that, even for people that know about the Garbage Patch and the albatross, that they walk away from it learning something new, and being more aware of those issues, and hopefully being inspired to do something, even the smallest change—making some sort of small change in their life that is a more sustainable practice.”

Catch Patch as part of Granville Island Cultural Society’s Summer at the Waterfront Series at the Waterfront Theatre from August 15 to 17. Tickets range from $5 to $20 and can be purchased at the door or via

Patch will also be playing as part of the Victoria Fringe Festival from August 22 to 31. Tickets are $11, or $9 for students, and can be purchased via