Today I’ve been in Toronto for one week and I have to tell you I have seen some amazing theatre since I’ve been here. Maybe I’m here at the right time and it’s just a coincidence? Maybe the grass is always greener? Who knows, right?!
Part of my job as an Artistic Producer/Director is to know what is happening. And, not just in my own city but across the country and internationally. Someone asked me recently “How do you do it? How do you seem to have your finger right on the pulse of things?” In that moment I didn’t really know what to say because I never really thought of it that way before. I just have a curious mind. I always have. I’m always looking to see what other people are doing. I’ve said this before but I see myself as a giant sponge just soaking up influences and inspiration from all around me. I love to travel. I am intrigued by different cultures and cities and how other people around the world live. It’s just a part of who I am. So, even though I don’t see myself in that way (at all), I guess that would be my answer. This is what makes that part of my job so easy. To me it is not work at all. It’s just who I am.
So, back when people were announcing seasons and so on and so forth. I was online doing some research into the Toronto theatre scene. Seeing what they were doing at Canadian Stage, Factory, Passe Muraille, Tarragon, etc. And, I came across the blurb for Wide Awake Hearts which just seemed right up my alley. Young, contemporary, etc and at the time I had no idea I would end up in Toronto during its run. I just thought “Hmmm…cool, that they are doing work like this”. Fast forward a couple months I’m now on my way to Toronto and I see a tweet from someone I follow saying they had seen this show and loved it. Now, I really want to go, and so I look it up online to discover it’s pretty much sold-out for the first week and they are still in previews. Now, I really, REALLY, want to go. So I call to get myself put on a waitlist and lo and behold someone calls to cancel and viola! I find myself with a ticket to Wide Awake Hearts.
And, I was not disappointed. At all. What a brilliant production! I often get really irritated by the constant misuse of video & projections in theatre. Yes, it’s innovative. But that doesn’t mean that everyone and their dog needs to go out and insert video and projections into their next play just because it is the thing to do. Plunking a screen on stage and showing a projection to identify locale does not make you innovative. It makes you lazy. I mean c’mon can’t you be more creative than that?! However, if video and projections are integrated well into the story and the design of the show it can be brilliant. And, in this case it is. AND, the story/narrative, doesn’t suffer (in my humble opinion) to serve the video and projections (which is another reason I am often irritated by video/projection).
The playwright, Brendan Gall, has written a great piece of theatre. If you like Closer by Patrick Marber (which I do) then you will like this play. It has a similar vibe. It’s the story of a young married couple: a film producer and actor. They are making a film and the film producer casts his best friend who he believes had (or is having) an affair with his wife. Next enters the film’s editor and the best friend’s on-again-off-again girlfriend. So, just by this description you can probably guess that all this might make for an interesting situation. Which, of course, it does. And, oh, does it also make for great drama!
There have only been a couple productions in the past couple of years where I have gone to see a production more than once because I liked it so much (Nevermore and Fat Pig being the other two). Wide Awake Hearts will be the third. A bunch of us are going to do rush tickets on Sunday and hopefully get in for $10 (How awesome is that?!). So, if you are reading this, and are in Toronto, I suggest you go see this play.
Because that is the other thing that blows my mind. The amount of theatre artists that don’t actually go to the theatre. How do you expect to know what is happening or “have your finger on the pulse of it” if you never actually go to the theatre? Or read plays? If I had one piece of advice for any aspiring theatre artist it would be this: GO SEE THEATRE!!! And, if you can’t afford to go to the theatre then READ PLAYS.
Because that is “how I do it”. I go to see as much theatre as I possibly can. And, I read plays. All the time. I also read newspapers, magazines, blogs. I go to art galleries and museums. I go to concerts. I listen to music. I know what is happening because I live it. Everyday. I don’t just sit around and talk about it or whine or complain about it. I’m a “doer”. You want to know what is happening? Then get out there and “do” things.
And, you can start by checking out Wide Awake Hearts at Tarragon Theatre.