Archive for December, 2015

I fell in love with a play this week. Sounds dramatic, I know, but it’s true. (Actually, it’s the second play in a month or two, so it’s a new trend for me!)

The first was Jenny Hazelton’s “The Dead Mess” at Thorneloe University, which blew my mind and soul right out of my body. I only got to see it once, because I went late in the run of the show. Hazelton’s work spoke to me on many levels, especially in terms of feeling isolated and disconnected. The world can be a too-busy place these days and I think “The Dead Mess” spoke to this worry that I have…that we’ll all be so busy, all of the time, that we have multi-tasked ourselves into a closet of disconnection. I see it in the kids I teach each day, in how they are so addictively drawn to their cell phones and how they lack the ability to interact with one another, sometimes, in a more human way. (Funnily, I was watching the John Cusack movie “Serendipity” yesterday afternoon and thought ‘Oh my! This movie would be so different if it had been made today. In fact, the movie probably would never have been made today because it focuses on the idea of people having a hard time finding one another. It was made in 2001, and the world was a very different place, in terms of how intertwined it is now with the internet and cell phone texting madness. Now, if you really wanted to find someone you were ‘crushing on,’ you’d be able to find someone much more quickly and very less dramatically! Google was invented in the late nineties, but I don’t recall us being as tied to cell phones as we are now within our western culture.)

Anyway….on to the play I fell in love with this week. It’s called “The Last Five Years” and it was written by Jason Robert Brown. It’s a musical, so it kind of reminds me of my mum, who introduced me to musicals when I was a kid. I remember watching the traditional ones, “Oklahoma,” “The Sound of Music,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and even “Brigadoon” when we were kids, with her at our side. Then, in our teens, she took my sister and I to see “Phantom of the Opera” and “Les Miserables” in Toronto. Such is the life of a Sudbury kid. 🙂 Ever since then, when I see musicals, I think of her and it’s a good way to remember what she loved in this life.

“The Last Five Years” is about two young people who fall in (and then out) of love. It begins with one’s perspective at the beginning of the relationship, all excitement and flurry of mad joy, while the other is perceived to be at the end of the relationship, all bitterness and angst. The one and a half hour piece then has the two characters slowly reverse their roles, so that the one who began as ‘happy and excited’ ends up being ‘bitter and angst-ridden.’ In the middle, somewhere, there are a few moments of pure delight, as they are both in the same moment, feeling the same emotions. I found it fascinating, in terms of its structure, mostly, and in terms of the words that were sung. I saw it, initially, last Wednesday night, but went again last night with a friend. I wanted to see it a second time to track the structure.

I’ve just re-read that sentence and I sound like a nerd. (It’s okay…I kind of am one!) You see, I’ve been courting plays since last fall, when I started a four-week introductory session at the Sudbury Theatre Centre with Matthew Heiti and Playwrights Junction. This fall, I was accepted into the full-out twelve-week Playwrights Junction sessions at STC, and I’ve been working on three new pieces. One is tiny, and needs to be worked on. The second is wobbling around in my head, and the third was a rush of words, imagery and dialogue that I wanted to try out. Each one is different, even, from the little piece I wrote about the ghost at the Bell Mansion last fall in the mini-Playwrights Junction session. I’m reading plays each week, including ones written by new friends I’ve met at the Junction. My Monday nights have lifted me up and I’ve fallen in love with writing plays. I’m learning how to write dialogue more realistically, reducing my prose-heavy stage directions (a left over style issue from writing short stories and a novel!), and studying how plays work. So, seeing YES Theatre’s production of “The Last Five Years” again last night left me examining structure, but also admiring the beauty of the music and the acting.

Here’s the thing I really want to get at here: We need to support local artists. YES Theatre’s goal as a company is clearly stated on its website as being: “a company that looks to bring to the stage pieces of theatre that have the potential to inspire our audiences. We focus on telling stories that our artist can connect to. Choosing pieces with the intention to spark creative conversation for a new generation of theatregoers.” I’ve seen a few of their productions now and I’m impressed more and more each time. I also love to see the wide range of ages and types of people who go to YES Theatre shows. Sometimes, theatre can seem stuffy and ‘old school.’ What I love about these little eccentric pieces that are done locally is that they are put on in such tiny quirky venues. I also saw Encore Theatre’s version of Larry Tremblay’s “Abraham Lincoln Goes to the Theatre” in a small theatre space on Elm Street this past spring. It was divine as well, and also directed by the brilliantly creative Jenny Hazelton.

I’m 45 (God knows how I got here so quickly!) and I’ve seen the arts evolve and sometimes devolve and then re-emerge in this town over the last twenty-five years or so. There was an arts scene here when I was in my twenties, but I don’t recall it being as vibrant and exciting as it is now. It makes my heart sing a bit, so that sometimes I trip over my own feet in the process. Sudbury has come a long way. The arts in Sudbury has flourished. As we head into Christmas and the last few shopping days, I’d encourage people to support local shops and artists. This can take the form of you buying a local piece of art, or by purchasing a subscription to the Sudbury Theatre Centre (STC) for a friend of family member, or by going to see YES Theatre’s fundraising cabaret tonight at the Caruso, by shopping at the Art Gallery of Sudbury, or even by buying a copy of the fabulous books, “We Live Up Here” or “Find Momo” from Sudbury Paint and Custom Framing on Elgin Street. (Tell Jane I sent you!) 🙂 Just GIVE THE GIFT OF ART! 🙂

If we want to see the arts flourish in this town, and I would venture most of us do, then we need to get out and buy tickets. In small ways, each and every day, you can support local artists and help grow this city in a creative and lively way. C’mon, people! Let’s get moving!

For further information on YES Theatre, the brainchild of the brilliant Alessandro Costantini, check out their site at:

Just $20 will get you in to see the show tonight at 8pm. Doors open at 7pm. I’d be there….but I’m hanging out at Playwrights Junction, learning from my playwright peeps.

Also, just another note: The bunch of us from Playwrights Junction will be having parts of our plays workshopped on the evening of January 13th, so if you’re around then, and you want to see what we’ve been working on for twelve weeks, and gnashing our teeth over on Monday nights, I hope to see you there, then, too. It’ll be at the STC and should be a fun night! 🙂


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