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Theatre with an “r-e”

12 September 2007

Yesterday I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in probably 15 years, the playwright and Director of Niagara University Theatre, Gregory Fletcher.

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No awkwardness at all. Whew! Good conversation, lovely weather, and decent entertainment. We went to see Hotel Peccadillo, a Morris Panych adaptation of a Feydeau farce at The Shaw Festival.

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The set design was brill, as the Brits say, and the musical accompaniment for this non-musical was a delight. The play itself was not bad, although I often felt the actors made stylistic choices that undercut the effectiveness of the comedy. That Panych was also the director made this something of a surprise. As is too often the case, I was not consulted for my input.

If I could I would go out to see live theatre every week. But if movies are costly, then plays… blah blah blah. Yet because of live theatre’s importance to me, I have this year indulged in three shows at The Shaw, two at Tarragon Theatre, one at the Stratford Festival, one at Can Stage and one by the Company Theatre. I have missed at least as many others I would liked to have seen in that same time.

And if I could I would be accompanied to the theatre by my girlfriend, whom I used to drag along to nearly everything I saw (or did) in Orlando.

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But between her lack of time when classes are in session and my interest being greater than hers, she has yet to see any Canadian theatre. And yes, it is always also about money. (Shut up about money already.)

In the eight productions I have attended this year, there have been performances that made me wonder if I could ever be that good. But more often I have felt up to the task, and wonder whether I will be allowed to work for these notable companies before I am no longer able to memorize lines. Both Niagara-on-the-Lake and Stratford, Ontario seem charming towns in which I think I would like to spend half a year doing theatre.

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At my age, going “one step at a time” tries my patience. But my getting older does not alter the struggles of this business, and so my first venture in Canadian Theatre will be in a small town in British Columbia, doing Miracle on 34th Street. It is neither Shaw nor The Shaw Festival, neither Shakespeare nor Stratford, neither exciting new scripts nor esteemed Toronto theatre companies. But I hear the location is beautiful, and it is work, hallelujah, that will put my feet back on a stage!

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