“Hilarious and Perfectly Cast” Jitters

March 9th, 2016 § 0 comments permalink

Here's a link to a great new article about Jitters from the Torontoist: "A Classic Case of Jitters".   The writer, Martin Morrow, recounts the story of how David based the play on some of the experiences he had during the premiere production of Leaving Home, his first play. Morrow also talked with director Ted Dykstra and leading lady Diane D'Aquila about the show, and about working with David. Says Diane, “It’s very easy to just see it as a funny play, because it is hysterically funny, but you dig underneath it and you realize that it’s an incredible portrayal of the frailty and the fear in making art."   I'm seeing the show tomorrow night with Mary and with my parents, who are visiting from Saskatchewan. Can't wait.  

Ted-DianeDiane D'Aquila and Ted Dykstra

Interview with Ted

March 5th, 2016 § 0 comments permalink

Ted Dykstra, renowned actor, director, and playwright, has directed all of David’s productions at Soulpepper. Beginning with Leaving Home back in 2007, the company went on to present Salt-Water Moon (2008), Of the Fields, Lately (2009), and Jitters in 2010. These beautiful shows were so important to David, and his collaboration with Ted gave his work new life and vitality. When David died, it was Ted who put together the magnificent tribute to him at Metropolitan United, and I will be eternally grateful to him for organizing and directing that fitting send-off. And our families are connected now in another way: over the past five years, Mary and Ted’s daughter Rosie have forged a friendship that manages to span the 13 subway stops between their respective neighbourhoods. It’s a real gift that we will get to see the remount of Jitters at Soulpepper this month. Thanks to Ted, cast and crew, and everyone at Soulpepper! Ted recently spoke movingly about this new production, and about the company’s connection to David:

Soulpepper’s Got the Jitters!

March 4th, 2016 § 0 comments permalink

This is the weekend that Jitters starts at Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto's Distillery District! This remount features most of the wonderful actors who were in the 2010 production: Diane D'Aquila, Kevin Bundy, Mike Ross, Sarah Wilson, Jordan Pettle, and the incomparable Oliver Dennis. There are some great new additions to the cast, too, including Alex Furber, Sophia Walker, and Geordie Johnson as Patrick. Director and friend Ted Dykstra very kindly invited Mary and I to the first reading of the play, and it was splendid! We can't wait to see the show next week. The previous incarnation of Jitters at Soulpepper was really special to us, as it happened while David was very ill with cancer. He went in to watch rehearsals every day, and the Soulpepper folks took such good care of him. It was the last opening night that David ever attended, and Mary's first opening night. Such a perfect show for us at that time, the play David wrote about his adventures in the theatre, a show filled with laughs and love. Last time Jitters played at Soulpepper, the Toronto Star called it "a comedic masterpiece," and the theatre has already added some extra shows due to demand. See it if you can! Here's a link to the theatre's website: Soulpepper Theatre

Of the Fields in Peterborough

March 2nd, 2016 § 0 comments permalink

I've just learned that the venerable Peterborough Theatre Guild is producing Of The Fields, Lately this month, too. The show closes on March 5, so see it this week if you can! However, the show is the Guild's entry in the Eastern Ontario Drama League Festival, so if you miss it in March, you can see it at the Festival, which runs from April 5 to April 9. Of the Fields, Lately will be performed on April 5th. Here's a link to their website: Peterborough Theatre Guild. fields

1949 in Scarborough

March 2nd, 2016 § 0 comments permalink

March is really turning out to be a great month to see a play by David French in the GTA. Salt-Water Moon at Factory Theatre is running and has received stellar reviews; Jitters will soon be running at Soulpepper, and 1949 is about to open in Scarborough. The Scarborough Players will be presenting 1949, David's large-cast Mercer play that takes place on the eve of Newfoundland's referendum about whether or not to become Canada's tenth province. You can find more details about performance dates and tickets on their website: Scarborough Players Here's the beautiful poster for the show. Print  

Salt-Water Moon at Factory: Reviews

February 28th, 2016 § 0 comments permalink

SWM Factory 2016 Reviews are rolling in for the production of Salt-Water Moon at Factory Theatre in Toronto, and they are raves! Click on the links to read the articles: "Salt-Water Moon is an irresistible reimagining of a Canadian classic" (Globe & Mail) "Salt-Water Moon update is startlingly romantic: Ravi Jain at Factory Theatre reminds us why David French's play is a classic" (Toronto Star) "A stripped-down, poetic staging of David French's classic is sure to win your heart"  (NOW Magazine) "SALT-WATER MOON is Pure Poetic Bliss" (Broadway World) "Salt-Water Moon is both winsomely endearing and utterly swoon-worthy" (Mooney on Theatre) "A thoughtful, beautifully acted production that makes you look at the play anew" (Slotkin Letter, Passionate Playgoer) The actors are amazing; the direction is beautiful; the show is magic. See it if you can!  

SWM Opening on Friday at Factory!

February 24th, 2016 § 1 comment permalink

The next few weeks will be very exciting for Mary and me and the whole French family. Factory Theatre's production of Salt-Water Moon is in previews right now, and it opens on Friday. Next week, Jitters will begin previewing at Soulpepper. We're delighted to have two of David's plays running at the same time at two of the best theatres in the city.   First up, Salt-Water Moon at Factory! Ravi Jain, the director, says the team has been having a wonderful time in rehearsals. Toronto audiences will remember Ravi from A Brimful of Asha, his funny, warm, and candid family play -- in which Ravi appeared opposite his mother. Ravi is also the artistic director of the Why Not Theatre company.   The two actors who star in Salt-Water Moon are Kawa Ada, recently seen in Soulpepper's Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and Mayko Nguyen, perhaps best known for her role as Mayko Tran on the television series ReGenesis.  
Kawa-Ada-340x300

Kawa Ada, who plays Jacob Mercer

Here are photos of the two stars of the show, along with a snapshot I took of Mary, posing by the Factory billboard for the play. Can't wait to see it!    
Mayko-Nguyen-340x300

Mayko Nguyen, who plays Mary Snow

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Mary at Factory

    ***                  

*****

   

Ron Hynes

November 21st, 2015 § 0 comments permalink

Ron Hynes, Newfoundland singer-songwriter died this week, at the age of 64. David and I both loved Ron's music.   Twice we saw Ron perform at one of our favourite venues, the Trailside Inn in Mount Stewart, PEI. The first time we brought our daughter Mary, who was about 6 months old, along with us. Ron saw her from the stage and dedicated a lullaby to her. The next time he and David had an animated conversation after the concert about how they should collaborate on something sometime. David often listened to Ron's songs, with "Dark River" and "Godspeed" two of his particular favourites.   In the summer, John Connolly, a PEI singer-songwriter and friend of Ron's, told me about a song Ron had written called "After Leaving Home." I found it on YouTube and wrote to Ron to tell him how much I liked it, and how David had liked listening to his CDs. Ron wrote back to thank me for telling him that. At the time I didn't realize how ill he was.   He was a towering talent, a master songwriter and poet. Gone too soon. Godspeed, Ron. RIP.  
Ron's last album, featuring "After Leaving Home"

Ron's last album, featuring "After Leaving Home"

     

Leaving Home in Santa Monica

February 7th, 2015 § 0 comments permalink

Barbara Tarbuck, director of a production of Leaving Home by the Ruskin Group Theatre in Santa Monica, sent me this wonderful promo video. The show opened last night -- sure wish I had been there to see it! Enjoy.  

The Dedication of David French Lane

August 28th, 2014 § 0 comments permalink

On June 22, 2014, David French Lane was officially dedicated with a City of Toronto ceremony. About 65 friends and family members came to celebrate on that sunny Sunday morning. At the event, Rory Sinclair and Tim Grant of the HVRA spoke, and then I said a few words about what the neighbourhood meant to David, which I will condense here:

A sense of place was very important to David’s work and to his life. His plays are often associated with Newfoundland, where he began, that island that shone vivid in his imagination. And of course, he loved PEI, where he spent 40 summers. But in fact, the majority of David French’s plays were set here, in Toronto. He lived most of his life in this city. From the lean-to at the back of Mr. Nutt’s shoe repair shop where his family moved in the 1940s, to the houses on Oakwood and on Euclid. He went to Rawlinson Public School, to Oakwood Collegiate, and also to Harbord Collegiate, just down the street from here. David moved into the upstairs apartment at 254 Brunswick Avenue in the mid-1970s. It was a place with great neighbours who became lifelong friends. It was close to the Tarragon Theatre, to bookstores, and to a movie theatre -- some of the things David considered essential. He could have morning coffee and conversation at a friend’s apartment, or read his paper at JJ Muggs. All-day breakfast at Paupers Pub. Dinner at the Other Café, at the end of the street. And although some of the people and places changed throughout the decades, David stayed right here. He loved this ‘hood. It was part of him. And of course, David spent many, many hours writing plays at our kitchen table, which overlooks this very lane…

After the ceremony, the sign was unveiled and Rory played the beautiful pipe tune “The Battle of The Somme.” Afterward, many of us went to Paupers for a nosh and a drink.

The naming of the David French Lane means so much to his daughter Mary, to me, and to all of his family and friends. I’d like to thank the City, the HVRA, (Rory Sinclair and Jan Muszynski in particular) for making sure that David is now literally on the map. It’s a great honour, and we will always be grateful.

I’d like to thank everyone who came to share the day with us!