A Remarkable Spring

June 10th, 2016 § 0 comments permalink

This year Mary and I had a spring to remember. Soulpepper brought back its brilliant production of Jitters, and we were privileged to sit in on the first reading. Ted Dykstra's direction and the wonderful ensemble cast kept audiences roaring with laughter for most of March and April. Jitters was the last play that David saw performed, and the 2010 opening night at the Young Centre was the last one he ever attended. It seemed strange to be at this spring's opening without him, but I know how happy he would have been to know that Jitters was running again.   In addition, Factory Theatre gave Salt-Water Moon an imaginative and non-realistic production directed by Ravi Jain. With only the words of the play (plus a little music and a lot of votive candles) Mayko Nguyen and Kawa Ada created magic. The play has been nominated for four Dora Mavor Moore Awards, including Best Production and Best Director.   In addition, the Peterborough Theatre Guild produced Of the Fields, Lately as its entry for the EODL Festival, and the Scarborough Players presented 1949! March might as well have been declared "David French Month" in Ontario. Here's a link to an excellent article in the Peterborough Examiner that talks about the phenomenon.   Sadly, I wasn't able to get to Peterborough to see Of the Fields, but Leslie and Mary and I saw the other three plays. In fact, I saw both Jitters and Salt-Water Moon several times each. Many of David's nieces and nephews (and grand-nieces and grand-nephews) came to see the plays also. My parents came to visit from Saskatchewan and went to see Jitters with Mary and I one night, which was extra special.   A big thank you to everyone who worked on these wonderful shows. We send you our gratitude and love!  
Some cast members of the Scarborough Players' production of 1949.

Some cast members of the Scarborough Players' production of 1949.

“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