Facts & FAQs

Une Lune D’eau Salee, Theatre de l’Isle, Eloi Archam-Baudoin and Nathalie Nadon
  • Many of David’s plays have been translated into other languages. Salt-Water Moon was translated into French by renowned Quebec playwright Antonine Maillet. Jitters is available in Chinese, French, and Serbian translations. Of The Fields, Lately, which is also available in French, had a long run in Argentina in Spanish translation.

  • In the summer of 2009, Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador produced ALL FIVE of the Mercer plays in repertory at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival in Cow Head: Soldier’s Heart, Salt-Water Moon, 1949, Leaving Home, and Of The Fields, Lately. David saw the plays, and had an amazing time on the Rock. Thanks to Jeff Pitcher, Gaylene Buckle, and cast and crew. Thanks to Sam Cioran, too. Here’s a link to a website with some good photos of Gros Morne National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

  • Two of the stars of the hit TV series Republic of Doyle were featured in acclaimed productions of Salt-Water Moon. Allan Hawco, who created the series and stars as lovable rogue P.I. Jake Doyle, played Jacob Mercer in the Saidye Bronfman Centre’s production of Salt-Water Moon. The play won Best Production at Montreal’s Les Soirees des Masques, and went on to tour. David was particularly fond of this production, which was directed by Chris Abraham, and co-starred Nicole Underhay (of Murdoch Mysteries). Krystin Pellerin, who played Mary Snow in the Soulpepper Salt-Water Moon, played Constable Leslie Bennett in Republic of Doyle — Jake Doyle’s sometime soulmate and occasional nemesis! For more information about this excellent show and/or to stream episodes via CBC Gem, click on this link: http://www.cbc.ca/republicofdoyle/
Allan Hawco and Krystin Pellerin in Republic of Doyle
And with Salt-Water Moon!
  • Are the Mercer plays autobiographical? David used to say that the plays were “semi-autobiographical.” Here’s what he said about Leaving Home during an interview in 2009: “All I tried to do was to write a specific play about my family…but I think I caught some kind of family dynamics that are universal. All the characters in the play are based on real people, but (they) are often composites of two or three people. Creating a character is based on what I know about people from observation and experience. And a large part of every character I write comes from myself. I am every one of those characters.”

  • Did you know that Oscar-winning actor Chris Cooper (The Muppets, The Bourne Identity, American Beauty, October Sky, Adaptation, Little Women) made his broadway debut as Ben in the Broadway production of Of The Fields, Lately? The show opened at the Century Theater in NYC in 1980, and also starred William Cain as Jacob, Mary Fogarty as Mary and John Leighton as Wiff.
Chris Cooper
  • David was working on two plays that remain unfinished. One was a comedy about an aging playwright and his old actor buddy titled Winter Sky. Eric Peterson and Ken Welsh read an excerpt beautifully at David’s memorial. The other was a sixth Mercer play, tentatively titled The Summer The Americans Landed On The Moon.

  • Mike Newell, noted English film director (Four Weddings And A Funeral, Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire, Donnie Brasco, Prince of Persia) directed a television version of Of The Fields, Lately. The show starred three of the actors from the original Tarragon production, and a young R.H. Thomson.

  • Mark Critch once played Jacob in Salt-Water Moon at Rising Tide Theatre in Newfoundland. Critch, who is well-known for his work as a writer and performer on the CBC comedy series This Hour Has 22 Minutes, and as the driving force behind the charming sit-com Son of a Critch, tells a laugh-out-loud story about performing the show on his bus ride to the theatre in his book An Embarrassment of Critches.
  • Did you know that David didn’t like to fly? He often took the train to see his shows, even when they were being performed at the South Coast Repertory in California. He can be added to a long list of airplane-averse playwrights, including Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Dave Carley, and Tom Walmsley.

  • Performing in Salt-Water Moon has been called “a rite of passage for young Canadian actors.” The play has had hundreds of productions across the country, including at almost every professional regional theatre, at many community theatres, and at most universities. Several well-known Canadian theatre couples met and fell in love during a production of Salt-Water Moon!

  • Renowned Newfoundland singer, Ron Hynes, wrote a song “based on the stage directions for Leaving Home.” The song is called “After Leaving Home.” David was a fan of Ron’s music, and saw him in concert twice at the Trailside Inn in Mount Stewart, PEI.
  • David had a successful acting career before deciding to concentrate on writing plays. David played several leads in CBC television dramas, which were taped live when he first began acting. (He had many hilarious stories about this era of television.) One of his most memorable roles was in a play called Ten Grapefruits To Lisbon, a drama starring Constance Cummings, who had played Mary Tyrone opposite Sir Laurence Olivier in the Royal National Theatre’s production of A Long Day’s Journey Into Night. David immortalized his experience in Ten Grapefruits To Lisbon in Jitters…where the playwright character’s back story includes having starred in a drama called Six Mangoes To Morocco!

    The following is an assessment of David’s 1960 audition for CBC television: “A blond kid of 20 with fair intensity, bony features, expressive, good grasp of role of sailor in Rose Tattoo. Plenty of attack, taut, tortured — good emotion. Looks like a ‘Dead End kid’ or juvenile delinquent but plays with great sensitivity. He could be cast as any kid who has protested against life or had a chip on his shoulder but only as a defense against his sensitivity.”

  • One Crack Out was actually very well-received by critics. Sometimes theatre historians assume that it was not successful because, unlike Leaving Home and Of The Fields, Lately, the play didn’t have productions across the country. In fact, the show did well in Toronto, and went on to be produced in Montreal and at the Marymount Theater in Manhattan. However, for its day, One Crack Out used very strong language. Regional theatres didn’t pick it up for fear of offending their 1970s subscribers. The NYC production starred Christine Baranski (The Good Wife) and Teri Garr (Tootsie.)
Christine Baranski
  • Other notable family members. David’s whole family is very talented! David’s brother Wallace French was a noted artist. A graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design, Wallace moved to NYC in the late 1960s. He was an architectural sculptor, and his work can be seen at the Canadian Consulate General, the Albright-Knox Museum, Piaget Offices in NYC, and the Larry Aldrich Museum.  His work had exhibitions in Toronto, Quebec, Connecticut and New York City. David’s nephew Ron Garfield French fronted the prog-rock band Garfield during the ’70s and ’80s. David’s other nephew Dennis French played drums for the band. Garfield was signed by Polygram Records and the band was nominated for a Juno. Both Ron and Dennis now have solo careers. Many of their recordings are now available on various platforms, and I highly recommend downloading and enjoying! Here’s a link to a single from Dennis’s new album, Sail On, “Tell Me That You Love Me”

§ 2 Responses to Facts & FAQs"

  • M Corkery says:

    Thank you for the informative website. I look forward to reading more. Was David French by any chance related to Garfield French of the 70 band Garfield? Thanks.

    • Glenda MacFarlane says:

      The answer to this question is YES! The band Garfield, which has a legion of devoted fans, featured David’s nephews Ron and Dennis! Ron Garfield French, David’s eldest nephew, has made most of the Garfield catalogue available again. You can find more information about Garfield here: https://garfieldfrench.com

      I will add some information about the band on this page. Thanks for asking!

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