I feel like such a grown-up! I bought my first ever theatre subscription this summer! It is for Tarragon Theatre and I get all 5 of their Mainstage shows for their season. I was lucky enough to be able to get to their “Social” and see Daniel MacIvor’s “The Best Brothers” in a tech/dress rehearsal.
So yesterday was the first time I got to do the whole subscriber thing and show up and pick up my tickets and oh- wait – what’s this? I got a present with my tickets:
A hand written postcard from Susan Coyne! As a playwright I was floored! As an actor I was gushing! And as a Canadian I was all the above. Such respect for this woman and her work!
Alright – enough exclamations…
But seriously that is just too cool.
Then the show, Joan MacLeod‘s “The Valley” happened:
If you know me then you already know I am deeply involved in suicide prevention and advocacy for mental health awareness. My show “Everything but the Cat…” is currently in pre-production for a 2014 tour of high schools in Ontario. So here I am, sitting in the audience with my Education Consultant as my seat buddy and this play unfolds about a late teen boy who can’t seem to make the transition into university – he’s deeply depressed and unmotivated and wants to hide away from the world. Even though it’s not the money; he got a full scholarship to go to Uni, and his family is super supportive… Hmmm. Where have I heard that before? Soon enough the parallels with my brother were too much and I was on the edge of my seat.
At one point of the play one of the characters is compelled to attempt suicide. It was well staged, well acted, well written. I was in tears. And not pretty hollywood tears when you see someone upset on tv, no, I was weeping.
But then I cried even harder because the boy in MacLeod’s story has a hopeful if not happy ending. I wept for that happy ending that my family never got. In an alternative universe Andrew doesn’t go through with it. He tells me. He tells my family. He tells someone and they listen. Really listen. They become his rock and he leans on us and that’s okay. He hits rock bottom, but that’s okay because that’s us and we don’t mind. We will stick around to be the solid ground he has to stand on to get better. And in that alternative universe my brother comes home for Christmas.
So I would like to thank the cast and crew behind The Valley – especially the playwright who not only made me feel extra warm fuzzies that this was set in Canada, but that she “went there”. MacLeod allowed for some choice acting moments and thanks to the cast for not commenting on the depression or anxiety written into their characters. A brave role for a young actor who plays Connor and has a psychotic break onstage… But everyone was solid. My focus was drawn to Susan Coyne though – maybe it was the postcard that has me hyper aware of her onstage – but her mothering was lovely to watch. My step-mom walked with her in that show, in that parallel universe where she gets to participate in saving her son.
Both my seat buddy and I walked out of there with wet eyes and a huge smile. We have a meeting this Sunday about “Everything But the Cat…” and the next steps on taking it on tour and it seems kismet that we were able to come together and see this show – not even knowing the content would be so close to home, to our hearts.
This is a pretty high bar you have set Tarragon. But so far, I am loving this whole subscriber thing and being exposed to new works of theatre and then being catapulted into inspiration and ideas.