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.


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.



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, 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, who plays Mary Snow


Mary at Factory
















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.


Soldier’s Heart at Sault Theatre Workshop

June 2nd, 2014 § 0 comments permalink

Recently I had some correspondence with Harry Houston, the Past President of Sault Theatre Workshop. This spring their group put on a special performance of David’s play about World War I, Soldier’s Heart. I asked Harry if he could tell me a little about it, and he sent me this gorgeous poster, along with some details about the show.

Soldier's Heart Poster

Here’s what Harry says about the special preview performance the group held:

“Sault Theatre Workshop has a program where we donate a preview performance of a production to a local charity or not-for-profit group to be used as a fundraiser. We supply the venue (our Studio Theatre on Pittsburgh Avenue,) the performance, pay for the royalties and give the group 100 tickets to sell. The group sells the tickets and keeps the money. We also offer the group the opportunity to set up displays, raffle a door prize or hold silent auctions etc. on the evening of their preview. We retain the right to run the concession and “reserve” seat the Sault Star reviewer (if needed).  All we ask in return is that the ticket prices are not sold for lower than our normal prices, and that we get a written report after the event is over, detailing the funds raised for the organization.
Why do we do this? Aside from helping and supporting our community, we find that this results in people coming out to our shows for the first time and they often end up becoming new audience members. We always have what we call “dress rehearsal” anyway and an audience can help the actors prepare for opening night. We like whenever possible to match the production’s theme or story line with the groups goals and it gives us a warm feeling to support some worthy causes.

Our group of choice for Soldier’s Heart was our local Legion (Branch 25) in Sault Ste Marie. Their attendance and word of mouth after the show increased our audiences. One gentleman told us he had to come attend as his grandfather was part of that Newfoundland regiment. It was moving at the close of each performance as the audience joined in with the singing of ‘Keep The Home Fires Burning.'”
I wish I could have seen the show. Here’s a photo of the cast:

Soldier's Heart May 2014 1

Salt-Water Moon at the Globe Theatre

April 16th, 2014 § 0 comments permalink


This spring Globe Theatre produced Salt-Water Moon, directed by Judy Wensel. I’d like to share some of the review that appeared in the Regina Leader-Post:

“Currently on the Main Stage at Regina’s Globe Theatre, Salt-Water Moon is an engrossing and entertaining love story featuring talented actors in a beautiful and creative production. Written two decades ago by well-known Canadian playwright David French, Salt-Water Moon is one of five semi-autobiographical plays about the Mercer family of Newfoundland. The 90-minute show is essentially a conversation between two characters — Jacob Mercer, played by Josh Ramsden, and Mary Snow, played by Lauren Holfeuer…The chemistry between Holfeuer and Ramsden is excellent and they do a great job of portraying the complex characters…Salt-Water Moon explores many interesting themes and will leave theatre-goers with much on which to reflect.”

Congratulations to everyone involved in the show. I’ve heard from many sources that it was a wonderful production!

Globe SWMGlobe SWM 2Globe SWM 3











Station Arts Salt-Water Moon

July 3rd, 2013 § 0 comments permalink

Several Saskatchewan friends and family members are looking forward to seeing Salt-Water Moon at the Station Arts Theatre in Rosthern, which opens on July 5th and runs for most the month. I’m very sorry that Mary and I won’t be able to see this production. Please go if you can — it’s going to be terrific! I’ve been corresponding with the director, Johnna Wright, and am pleased to be able to tell you a bit about the show.

Salt-Water Moon director Johnna Wright accepts the Jessie Award for Best Director, Vancouver, June 2013

By the way, just last week, Johnna won a “Jessie” award in Vancouver for her direction of The Merry Wives of Windsor for Bard on the Beach. The show led the nominations for the prestigious awards with seven nods, including best director, best actor, best supporting actor, best costumes, best set, and significant artistic achievement. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Johnna has kindly given me permission to quote part of the email she sent me about some of the experiences she and cast and crew have had while rehearsing Salt-Water Moon:

“…It’s been an added bonus on this show that we’re getting to learn more Newfoundland history. Everywhere we look in our research, we find the same observations about the bravery of the First Newfoundland Regiment at the Somme and elsewhere, and about the hardship suffered ‘back home’ from the enormous losses in the war.

My own great-grandfather was in France during World War I, but I didn’t think he had ever seen combat. Recently I was talking with my dad about Salt-Water Moon and he set me straight: turns out Dad’s grandfather fought at the Battle of the Somme, as well as the second battle of Ypres, and probably for the same reason as many Newfoundlanders did. Somehow he managed to survive two years in the trenches.

Our Jacob and Mary are a real-life married couple (Aaron Hursh and Caitlin Vancoughnett,) which has allowed for some shorthand in rehearsal. All those ‘relationship dynamics’ in the script really ring true and it’s been a lot of fun to explore them with a couple who already know each others’ foibles and ticklish spots. Of course they also know how to crack each other up, so we let them get that out of their system at the start of each day.

We’ve also discovered a number of Newfoundland ex-pats in our midst. Our rehearsal hall is at Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon, where the Technical Director, Derek Butt, wandered by the other day while Caitlin and Aaron were working on their dialect. The good news is that he knew immediately they were doing Newfoundland.”

Johnna added that the cast and crew took a few minutes to observe Newfoundland’s Memorial Day during their tech rehearsals in Rosthern. She also told me something that made me laugh — the stage manager’s name is “Jacob” — but since that was getting confusing, he has been renamed “Sebastian” for the rehearsal period!

I’m sending much love to everyone involved with this production, and wishes for broken legs all around on opening night.