Category Archives: WOD (Writing of the Day)

How do we do theatre again

I saw a play yesterday and the overwhelming thought I had was that ‘theatre is dead.’ That’s a hard thing for me to think, let alone say, let alone write—as I am one of theatres most ardent fans. As an actor, I make [well made] my bread and butter doing theatre. I have sailed high and crashed low in the theatre, and as I sat there last night I thought ‘TV is so much better.’

Maybe I’ve been away too long, maybe it was the writing, maybe it was my first night out in awhile…

In truth, I wanted to leave ten minutes in, but to be completely honest, when the lights went up I thought,

“Oh, God, no. Please don’t make me stay.”

When I was a young actor, still in theatre school, and went to see a play—if I didn’t like it I’d say—”The acting? Can you BELIEVE they did it like that?!?”

(Although if it was a play I wrote and I went to see it I’d shoot to my feet—”The writing! WOW. Can you BELIEVE they did it like that! Bravo!”)

What I really meant was “I’m jealous you are on a stage and I’m not.”

Then I got a little older, and a little more secure and someone challenged me not to find out what was bad about a play, but what was good about it. In other words don’t shit on someone’s art: be critical.

Last night, I felt like I saw a filmed version of a play IN a theatre. And this makes sense—as most theatre done in the pandemic were filmed and put on streaming platforms. I could not feel the rubber band keeping the main characters together. Keeping them in urgency. Keeping them depending on one another. They would move so far away from each other as if nothing was tethering one to the other. They didn’t need each other. Going to see a show where people don’t REALLY NEED things from one another can be very tiresome. The film version I saw last night was swallowed up on this large stage.

I was happy to be in a theatre, but it was not exciting, spontaneous; no jolts! No lightning in a bottle.

Before the pandemic, I was in a show, and had four other productions lined up. One of them was a part, written for me, by the artistic director. Another was a part I didn’t even have to audition for (miraculous! Never happens!) in a major theatre in a world premiere of an exciting play by a famous playwright… that play was scrapped. Almost all those shows were scrapped.

I think about this, and I think about this piece I’m currently working on called Untitled Othello. It’s called this for several reasons and one is that he has a problem with the title: Othello: The Moor of Venice. He finds it “ill-defined,” and “misleading.” He also is encouraging the group and challenging himself to come up with a new title. One that perhaps will be more in-line with the story we want to tell. (One of his problems with the play is that the play is not considered a “problem play.” Though he has many other issues with Shakespeare’s Othello; a play he loves truly madly deeply.)

Untitled Othello (NOT A SHOW) is going to have a rehearsal gestation of four to six months which is unheard of on this continent. Any actor will tell you as the run goes on you get more comfortable; you get better; the heavy lifting is easier; you find things you didn’t know were there; you rediscover things on the edge of a pin, and you can almost without realizing it slow down time. (No mean feat.)

Maybe I was looking for something transcendent when I went to the theatre after not seeing a show in almost two years. After not really working as an artist for two years. After feeling I wasn’t contributing for two years. To my family, to myself, to my community, to the greater world around me, to Canada. (I’m Canadian.)

I was looking for God. And, as always, God is no where to be found. I think this is where the work must really begin.

How do we do theatre again?

Did you look up

Did you look up?
Were you too late.
Did you not see it? Did you miss it? It is too late?
Did you spend a second thinking about someone else besides you.
Did you toil.
Did you get dirty. Hands dirty. Feet. Mouth. Ears.
Did you shake?
Who made you shake? Who was responsible.
Who was the boogie man. Who was evil. Who was just hurtful.
Who cut into the pie, took what they wanted; and left you thirsty. On your knees. In the dirt.
Who play-acted for you. Was it good? Was it fun? Did you leave you better than you were? Lighter?
When was it shit.
When it was it heavy.
When was it phony.
When was it fake?
When did you walk in and just know you wished things were different. So when did you stand up?
When did you look up and see the top and say holy shit I can grab that.
I can actually grab that.
That is within my reach.
That is my life.
I can take it.
I can have the life I want; rather than complain about the one I’m in.
Take it. Take it. Rise.
Live your best life starting now.

I see my shadow

I see my shadow as I pass
I see yours too, it’s big.
I see it in the summer light
I see it on this pig.

Every shadow that I meet
I wave and say hello;
And when the sun goes down
My shadow drifts into the sea.

Its sad to say goodbye sometimes
Its sad to look away
But things come back
Like all these birds
Who chirp and chirp away.

Anxiety

scrawling some news on the back of a letter
the writing were good if the paper were better.

people will come
people will go

people will lie
people will know

people will lose
people will burn
people will leave
people return.

I wish I could put a name to my fear;
I wish we were close,
I wish you were near.

I wish you were here on a bike and a sled
We could play in the yard
We could build in the shed

We could take out guitars
We could plant a new tree
We could get real bizarre
We could talk about me

And all that it’s worth
And all that we’re able.
I’d give my whole life;
I’ll punch through a table.

people will come
people will go

people will lie
people will know.



remember that day

Remember that day
You showed up late
And said those words to me:
“I’ll love you till the rocks come down.”
It was just you and me.

It was a bright and Bluebird Day
And talk and talk we did.
And when you took out Gatorade
I thought “MAN, my dad’s the shit!”

Fast Forward;
Though it happened slow;
It got warm;
It got cold;
It got tense;
It got torn;
Over and over till a baby was born.

Want to play?
Can’t today.
Wanna talk?
Late for walks.
Wanna spit?
You still doing that?
Wanna swing?
Don’t wear my ring.
Wanna riot.
SHH! Quiet.

And now my room was eaten up
And now my time with you was up;
And now I share your wild focus
As we brace for sounds like locusts.

Would you bite into an apple thinking about me?
Would you build a swing set in the backyard all for me?

Will you take me on some trips?
France: for bread and cake?
Will you take me off to Spain
For bulls and wine and lakes?

You have another child I can see it in your face;
You have another child she has claimed a master race.
My memories deleting while this new one flops about.
All my height marks in bright green have now been all crossed out.

Have your kid;
Live your life;
Pretend that you are free.
“I’ll love you till the rocks come down.”
Is what you said to me.

Stairs

Stairs are scary,
Steep and long,
I treat them with respect.
Holding the rail,
I go down slow.
I don’t play games
 I don’t make jokes
Until I reach the bottom.

Stairs to me are not a joke
I do not play or gaggle;
But once my feet do touch the ground,
I smile and throw my hands up.

I held the railing!
I made it down!
I’ll never let it go!

As I go down, I let go once
The stairs are not a joooooooooooooooo—!

When I shop for clothes

When I shop for clothes
I shop till I drop;
I shop in the store
I shop in the lot.

I shop while I drink
I shop while I fish;
If I catch a suede jacket,
I don’t throw it back in.

I shop cause I’m sad
Cause I lost my left hand
In an accident so bad
The pictures are bland.

The pictures are bland
Cause they’re mostly out of focus;
But a hundred mile an hour train-wreck
Is quite a commotion.

Now when I shop
I shop for a hand.
To replace the one I lost
Somewhere in Bhutan.

One day I will find it;
That missing part;
Then my shop will be over,
And I’ll leave the parking lot.