Whenever You’re Ready

Just finished Nora Polley’s memoir about being a Stratford Festival stage manager: Whenever You’re Ready, written beautifully by Shawn DeSouza-Coelho.

What an apt title.

Apart from the famous names, such insight into the art. For example…
– The idea that a stage manager, like an actor or director, can have a favourite blending of actor and text, especially in performance.
– A stage manager works out a careful schedule of cues, only to be thrown off by the timing of actors. And yet, they can throw it off a bit, as needed.

After all, it is always, ultimately, their show.

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The Gingham Dog

“… I’ve got no room to talk about you. If I took stock of myself, I’d probably find I had no inventory.”

– Lanford Wilson, The Gingham Dog

Transcendent Years

I’m reading Marshall W. Mason’s “The Transcendent Years The Circle Repertory Company and the 1960’s”. For context- I got to see the Broadway production of Lanford Wilson’s “Fifth of July” in 1980 with, movingly, and ironically, Christopher Reeve playing a paraplegic. (See my blog post Happy Lanford Wilson Day)
More about that landmark play another time.
Mason’s book is a history of The Circle Repertory Theatre company and therefore an overview of Wilson’s output as a playwright (and Mason as a director).
So I am slowing down my progress through the memoir by reading the plays of Wilson, as they come up. Many are short one acts. All are unique. Wilson was a trailblazer from the start. His very first plays (“Home Free!” and “The Madness of Lady Bright”) broached, in turn, incest, and the life of a drag queen. Not easy subjects at any time for a writer. That he could humanize them compellingly speaks to his talent.
More to come….

First Day Back

My brother passed this along to me, from a teacher neighbour of his.

For teachers, July is a month of Saturdays; August is a month of Sundays.

I like that- that August is the second half of the long summer weekend- the night before it changes, come September.

It’s Labour Day Weekend. Back to the classroom on Tuesday. Here’s a monologue from my play Put Up Your Hand suited for this time of year: “First Day”. Enjoy.

And my best to all my colleagues back to it on Tuesday. Rested and renewed, I trust, after all those Saturdays and Sundays.
First Day

Edward Albee liked it

Two years ago I performed a monologue from my script “The Good-bye Play” at the hub 14 in Toronto (pictured). The performance was filmed but needed an introduction. Here it is. Thanks to the people and events that inspired it; to videographers Anthony Da Souza (for the performance video) and to Jason Sauernheimer (for the introduction); and thank you to Andrew Gaboury and the Field of Crowns. And of course, Edward Albee.
hub 14

Wit without the Vitriol, Please

I got to see the revival (and Broadway premiere) of Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band, the benchmark play with the all-gay cast from 50 years ago.
I saw the play in revival in a Toronto production in the 1980’s. I recalled a play of great wit and pain.
The night I went to the Broadway production, the main character (portrayed effectively by Jim Parsons), Michael, descending into his drunken tirade against his party guests, hurling racial and homophobic insults, got empathy for his neediness but not for his drunken slurs. Were they meant to be funny in 1968? Did they amuse in the 1980’s Toronto version? I can hardly print them here- the “N” word; “Coon”, and more. In 2018, they seemed to wound the audience, as well as the characters.
Times are changing. The sarcasm of plays like Boys and its influence- Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – might be out of reach for today’s sensitized audience.
The wit is still appreciated. Maybe not the vitriol?

#Diverse Characters

Working on a script for possible school audience. Am aware of creating Anglo-Saxon names, knowing any of our diverse (Middle Eastern, Asian) students could play them. But the reverse? A Caucasian student playing someone named, say, Patel? In a production of Wilde’s “…Earnest”, a girl of Indian heritage played Gwendolyn (or Cecily?), complete with English accent. But a Caucasian student playing “Patel”? With accent? I’m not sure we’re there yet.