Playwriting

The coolest theatre ever

Thanks to a travel grant from the Canada Council for the Arts I was able to go to Denver and see a performance of my play Appliance. It was all a bit surreal – I spent more time in airports and on planes than seeing the actual show! But better that than not being to go at all.

The theatre is called The Denver Victorian and has the coolest history. The original owner, George Swartz was a lover of Shakespeare and often read the plays aloud with his family and friends. To that end, he designed a house in 1911 with a theatre in the basement. That’s right, a proscenium theatre, with a backstage and a sub-basement with a working trap door. It’s quite remarkable. There Mr. Swartz is said to have staged the entire Shakespeare cannon and the theatre today has many pictures and playbills from that era. The theatre has been used as such on and off over the century and found new owners in May. The main floor of the house serves as the lobby and then come show time you move down an outside set of stairs to the theatre. It’s very cozy and intimate. A lovely place to see a show.

Everything was lovely in fact. The people were very friendly and warm and the show had a strong impact on the audience – which is always my greatest wish. One of the things that I appreciated most was that the company (andtototoo Theatre) went with the script whole hog – there is one section in the beginning that is definitely a script issue (two people hold a table for over a page and it makes no sense that they wouldn’t put it down) and instead of calling me up and saying “this doesn’t work, this doesn’t work,” they tried to find a way to solve the problem using the script. And now that I’ve seen the issue, I’m already thinking about how to change it. But sometimes you just have to SEE the problem in action on the stage. I’m pretty sure that if they had called I would have been tetchy about it. But seeing it is a whole different story.

Seeing problems in a script is always a nightmare for me – why didn’t I figure it out ahead of time? Why couldn’t I have done it better? Conversely, seeing something work is pure magic. It’s a drug. When that moment of cyclical action occurs between what’s happening on stage and what’s happening in the audience, the whole world makes sense. For a second anyway, then I see another problem.

To top it off, the show got a lovely review in Colorado Backstage. Definitely a keeper.

About the author

Lindsay Price