Through my travels I’ve been lucky enough to see quite a few of my plays produced. Sometimes that’s not a good thing. Sometimes I really have to bite my tongue (because I will never, never, tell a teenager that their optimism, their energy and their efforts weren’t good enough). Sometimes I see things I don’t want to see, like changes to my plays and the inevitable question “you’re fine with it right?” Sometimes I think I’m just a big snob when I turn my nose up at a production that isn’t done the way I would do it.
And then I see something that is in a word “inspired.” In another word, heartfelt. In a whole bunch of words, a creative vision that understands how to take a playwrights intention, stay true to it and add on a whole new level.
Last night I saw Listowel SS’s production of Stroke Static. It was a joy to watch and it was a joy to be able to tell them how much I loved it. The director really kept the play’s intention intact while still being wonderfully creative – the play takes place in the mind of a man suffering from a degenerative disease and my goal was to try and theatricalize his experience. The production understood that goal and took it even further. For example they used tableau and word repetition to emphasize the nightmare world of the main character. Amazing way to use an ensemble. There are also a number of children’s games in the play that the production chose to interpret as abstract instead of literal, which I thought was great.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I believe in the power of theatre. I believe theatre can have an impact and be moving and that doesn’t just mean tragic woe as me moving either. It’s all about taking what’s happening on stage and striving to connect to the audience. I felt that connection last night.
A number of the students thanked me for writing the play. But in truth it is I who have to thank them for bringing the play to life in such a magical fashion. Thank you Listowel SS!