Wednesday, May 09, 2018

The Velocity of Autumn by Eric Coble - Audiences are saying it's a "Must See".

Thursday May 10 is sold out but tickets are available for all other performances as of this writing.

Here's what patrons are saying:

"I've never laughed so much at something so sad." - Glenn M.

"Wonderful.  Just...wonderful." - Joan S.

"Now listen to me: You NEED to see this play! After all these years, Kathleen and Andrew haven't missed a step since their days together with Theatre & Company, and Richard's direction is mesmerizing. The set by Nicole is fabulous, and the intimacy of the KWLT theatre space makes you feel like you are right there in their living room, eavesdropping."

"The moments of humour came at just the right times." - John A.

If you are a parent or have ever had a parent, this show is for you.  

If you get along like wildfire with your siblings or are at daggers-drawn with them, this play is for you.  

If you don't know what to say to friends or family who are in a tight spot, you need to hear the final line in this show.

And if you think live professional theatre is something worth supporting in our region, we need you here.  Get your ticket.  Thanks.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

A career playing old(er) ladies - a conversation with Kathleen Sheehy

L&F: You've been playing, shall we say, up in age for a long time.

KS: Oh, yes.  It all started when I played Grandma Tzeitel in our high school's production of Fiddler on the Roof.  Then I was an old arthritic Irish nun who prayed the convent to a warmer location in Seven Nuns at Las Vegas.

L&F: How about more recently?

KS: My favourite older woman role at Theatre & Company was Bubbie in Crossing Delancey back in 2003.  That was one of the few times I had extensive makeup.  Of course, part of that was the nose.  I got a new one every performance!

L&F: So if you usually don't rely on makeup, how do you create the age of the character?

KS: Sometimes I decide on a body part that causes the character pain, like a hip or, in the case of Alexandra in Velocity of Autumn, her knees.  That creates a physicality that conveys age.  I'll make adjustments to my vocal quality in some cases.  How the playwright has drawn the character is the biggest help.  It has to start there.

L&F: Expand on that.

KS: Take the character of Pearl in Gary Kirkham's play Pearl Gidley, which Lost & Found presented in 2011.  Gary created a complex woman who is dealing with layers of fear and emotional pain accumulated over her years.  She also had that "I'm old so I can say whatever I please" attitude.   It's all in the writing.

Mary in Tinker's Wedding
L&F: Are there any particular challenges to playing older?

KS: Well, you can't be hung up on your onstage appearance!  These are not the "glam" roles, that's for sure.  The older I get, the smaller the leap into the mind of an elder character.  I've always had great respect for elders and I have had, and still have, some good friends who are many years my senior.  That's served me well.  I consider it an honour and a responsibility to portray older characters with dignity and respect.

L&F: Is Alexandra the first character with dementia you have played?

KS:  There have been a few others: Mama in Drayton's Italian Funerals and Other Festive Occasions, and Edna in Dancing on the Elephant by New Hamburg playwright Lisa Hagen. But everyone experiences dementia uniquely.  It's enlightening and sobering to explore the minds of these wonderful women.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Alexandra’s adult children want her to move to a nursing home. She’s holed up with enough Molotov cocktails to blow up the block, until estranged son Chris crawls through his mother's 2nd story window, and becomes the family's unlikely mediator.

Starring Andrew Lakin and Kathleen Sheehy.  Directed by Nicole Lee Quesnel.

YES!  For all you theatre old-timers out there, Andrew Lakin is BACK and we're over the moon to have him return to the stage with us.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What's it all about?

Pocket Rocket actors ham it up before a rehearsal -- Hannah Ziss (foreground) and (left to right) Matt White, Mark Kreder, Andrei Preda and Suchiththa DeSilva. The play, which opens April 20, is about friendship, life journeys, Canadian identity -- and road hockey. 

Guest blogger Kathy Storring

(Last in a series)
Who are the characters in Pocket Rocket?
Well, they are drawn from Lea Daniel and Gary Kirkham’s friends and life experiences; they are moulded by specific time periods and historical perspectives. And they are partly Gary and partly Lea — sometimes in the same character.  Sometimes unexpectedly.
There was a revealing moment in our interview when Gary pointed out the similarities between Lea and a character named Dave.
Lea reacted with surprise as Gary tallied the ways Dave mirrors parts of her life. Dave starts his family early — Lea had her first child at 19. The play’s street hockey action takes place in front of Dave’s house — the seeds for the play were planted as Lea watched neighbourhood street hockey games in front of her house.  Dave takes over the family business; Lea followed her father into the arts, despite having already pursued a degree in psychology.
So character development can start close to home.
“You do that subconsciously,” Gary says.
“Well, really subconsciously,” Lea adds with a laugh. “Because I hadn’t thought about it until this morning!”
Yet the Dave character also reflects Gary — his wanderlust, his desire for more.
“I think that the extraordinary thing is how autobiographical the play is — for both of us. In the same character even,” Gary says. “That could sound peculiar, but you have a character on stage for an hour and a half. … We are all so complex, we are all multi-peoples.”
Dave’s appeal works for others too. At readings, audiences have told Lea and Gary that they “know Dave.”
Another character, Ifty, is a newcomer to Canada in 1967 “and that’s totally me,” says Gary, who arrived from Britain that year. “The moment of him seeing a game was me coming into this country and saying, ‘Can I play with you guys?’ ”
Yet Lea says that character reminds her of her son on a family trip to Europe — the way he watched kids playing, too shy to ask to join. “He just wanted to play so much. It would break your heart.”

Transitions and transformations

Local audiences will meet all of Pocket Rocket’s characters, four males and a female, April 20 at the Lost & Found Theatre premiere at Kitchener’s Registry Theatre. The actors – Matt White (Dave), Mark Kreder (Paul), Andrei Preda (Steve), Suchiththa DeSilva (Ifty) and Hannah Ziss  (Cindy) -- will morph through time during three acts. The first act is set in 1967, requiring them to slip back to age 13. From there, the action jumps 14 years to 1981, and then about 14 years again to the mid-1990s.
At every stage, the play is about friendship — road hockey gives them an excuse to hang out.
“This is what the people who stick with you are like,” Gary says. “Or those friendships that you get back again. You get back together after 10 or 15 years and it’s like you’ve never been apart.”
The time jumps are reminiscent of a series of acclaimed documentaries in Britain. In the first show, Seven Up, director Michael Apted captured a group of seven-year-olds in 1964. Followup docs have checked in with the characters every seven years. The most recent instalment was 56 Up.
Lea and Gary are fascinated by the documentaries’ transitions and transformations, and by how Apted didn’t coddle the viewers — he simply let the characters pick up their stories. Moulding fictional characters is easier, of course, but as much as possible Gary and Lea stuck to an organic course, just letting the characters grow out of their backstories.
In the first act, the characters are about age 13 — children on the verge of adolescent angst. The next act shoots them into their 20s, where the freedom of young adulthood mixes with the uncertainty of what’s to come.
Gary remembers this stage well. “Thirty for me was traumatic. I was nowhere. I was in-between everything and that reflects itself in the characters.”
The third act brings the characters into their 40s. “You understand yourself better,” Lea says. “Maybe some of the possibilities aren’t there any more so you can narrow your focus a bit.”

Deeper themes

Pocket Rocket’s time spans also have a broader perspective.
“It was really important to me that it be about Canada,” Lea says. “There’s a real underlying theme of Canada’s growing up and maturing along with these kids.”
Pocket Rocket even touches Quebec’s flirtation with independence and the changing sexual values of the times.
By beginning in 1967, Centennial year, the play explores Canada’s “peak of optimism,” Lea says. This was also a time of rapid immigration, and as one of those newcomers, Gary remembers it as a “magical time.”
The next act is in 1981, a year in which two names were stamped deeply into the national psyche  — Wayne Gretzky and Terry Fox.
In writing this section, Lea was determined to understand hockey and the fascination with Gretzky, a hockey powerhouse for the Edmonton Oilers. As she jokes: “I did think there are people so passionate about hockey that if you do something that is egregiously wrong, someone is going to stand up and say, ‘No!’ 
As for Terry Fox, both Gary and Lea were deeply moved by his passion and by his death in 1981. They remember the way the whole nation held its breath in 1980 as Fox dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic and set off on a cross-Canada run for cancer research.  After 143 days — 5,373 kilometres — his cancer returned and he was forced to abandon his Marathon of Hope.
It was a tragic story, but also a symbolic one.
“Nobody thinks he is not a hero,” Gary muses.
“Not completing his run, not finishing, and still that’s a hero for us. Trying is heroic — in a way that’s just who we are.”

Let the games begin!

So, are the actors busily honing hockey skills in between rehearsals? The play does revolve around road hockey after all. 
Well, that’s where theatre magic steps in. Sound effects will fuel the audience’s imagination, and the set will complete the fantasy with its curbs, sidewalks and houses.  As the play’s various storylines unfold and the characters gain depth, it won’t matter whether the actors have scored any real goals.
“It’s sort of a metaphor for what we are doing,” Gary says.
“You never see the game — you see the aftermath.”
So, get your tickets! Pocket Rocket is not to be missed, whether you are a hockey player, an avid bystander or, most importantly, someone who loves great theatre. Lost and Found Theatre presents Pocket Rocket April 20-30, 2016, at the Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., Kitchener.

Extra! Extra! To get you in the mood, a collection of short street hockey videos by artist Dwight Storring will be shown before each performance of Pocket Rocket.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

The dark secrets of collaboration

Guest blogger Kathy Storring
(Second in a series)
You’ve tuned in for the scandal, right?
You can already see it: with two playwrights working head-to-head on a long creative project, there must be angry tears, slamming doors, scorching arguments. (High drama, so to speak.)
But come on. We’re talking about the gentle Lea Daniel and the gregarious Gary Kirkham here. These longtime friends aren’t the combative type — quite the opposite. Gary, who lives in Cambridge, and Lea, from Kitchener, even collaborate in an interview, tossing ideas back and forth, nodding as the other speaks:
“It was so easy,” Lea says with a warm smile when asked about their writing process for their play Pocket Rocket. “We just talked and talked and talked and talked. And I feel like Gary knows many of my deepest secrets because you tell things that happened, your relationship with your parents, your friends, your kids.… We were telling stories, that’s what we did.”
Gary: “ It wasn’t about how to get ideas from your head onto the page. It was already out there. So we would just be transcribing what we just did, what we said. We would actually kind of act it out, or talk it out.
Gary adds: “Dialogue is such an easy thing for both of us. So that’s never an issue. We are both oral in that sense. People say, ‘How do you write dialogue?’ And I say, ‘How do you not?’ ”
Lea: “ We would read it to each other as we wrote it. And, as you always do, we did a lot of clunky stuff. We would think, well, we have to get here…. So we would write five times as much as we needed.”
Gary: “We both have done so much writing that we know a re-write is always in the park. So you just get it out there.”

Exploring the ‘middle ground’

It took a few years to finish this play. Both were busy with their own projects so they had to carve out bits of time here and there. But when they sat down to write, it just worked — much like the lasting friendships depicted in Pocket Rocket, which Lost & Found Theatre premieres April 20.
It helps that they both write with a similar voice, exploring what Gary describes as “the middle ground of drama and comedy.”
Pocket Rocket definitely leans more to the comic side, but its themes are big — the resilience of deep friendship and the changing Canadian identity. We will talk more about those themes in the next blog post. For now, let’s find out more about how the play developed.
The play is set in three time periods, roughly 14 years apart, starting in 1967, and Lea and Gary were determined to reflect historical accuracy as much as possible. They invested many hours of research into subjects like Canada’s Centennial Year, the galvanizing power of the Terry Fox run for cancer research and, of course, hockey because the play does revolve around road hockey.
They build this historical perspective into their extensive backstories for each of their five characters. The plot possibilities emerged from there.
Through it all — the writing, the rewriting, the workshops, the tweaks, the rehearsals, more tweaks — one basic idea carried the day: “You have to trust the play,” Lea says.

Extensive experience

Lea and Gary bring a deep well of writing talents to the project. Here are just a few of their accomplishments:
Lea Daniel: Lea is the author of several books and stories for children. For many years, she has also enjoyed a creative collaboration with partner Alan Daniel, writing and co-illustrating children's books and magazines and working on a variety of other projects ranging from advertising to sports posters. Their various honours include a 2004 Mr. Christie’s Book Award for Under a Prairie Sky; they were also short-listed for a Governor-General Award for Sody Salleratus. On the theatre side, Lea’s dramatic comedy Naked was produced by Lost & Found Theatre in 2013. Her play The Heretic has had four workshops / public readings, including juried selections in Toronto by Foundry Theatre (2010) and Equity Showcase (Off-The-Page Series, 2003). Lea is also a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada and was a founding member of Pat the Dog Playwrights’ Collective.
Gary Kirkham: This Cambridge resident is an actor and filmmaker as well as a playwright. His plays include Falling: A Wake, Pearl Gidley, Queen Milli of Galt, and Rage Against Violence (with Dwight Storring). He is an artistic associate with the MT Space and has worked in collaboration with the company on several shows, including Seasons of Immigration, Body 13, Occupy Spring, and the critically acclaimed The Last 15 Seconds. He has written several adaptations, including Radio Leacock, Easter, and Bottom and The Mechanicals. His plays have been produced by more than 50 theatres and have been translated into French, Italian and Arabic.
He has worked as a video designer for My Name Is Dakhel Faraj, Black Spring and The Ashley Smith Project. He is a member of the local film collective 12 Angry Filmmakers. And he co-runs a theatre program for ESL high school students in collaboration with MT Space and the YMCA.

Creative crossovers

As might be expected, there have been creative crossovers since Lea and Gary’s initial meeting in Writers’ Bloc in 1998.
Lea says Gary has supported her in various projects, including being dramaturge for Naked, directing an Asphalt Jungle Shorts production of her play In the East a Glass of Water and acting in a workshop for Heretic.
 “And,” Lea adds, laughing, “I’ve mostly supported Gary by going to everything he’s done.”
Next blog April 14: What’s it all about? Tune in next time for the inside scoop on Pocket Rocket.

So, get your tickets! Pocket Rocket is not to be missed, whether you are a hockey player, an avid bystander or, most importantly, someone who loves great theatre. Lost and Found Theatre presents Pocket Rocket April 20-30, 2016, at the Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., Kitchener.

Click here for ticket info.

Extra! Extra! To get you in the mood, a collection of short street hockey videos by artist Dwight Storring will be shown before each performance of Pocket Rocket.

Friday, April 01, 2016

A play is born

Guest blogger Kathy Storring
(First in a series)
Funny how the brain works.

For Lea Daniel and Gary Kirkham, there is no question that their play Pocket Rocket originated with Lea.
But things get fuzzy when they try to remember how Gary came onboard.

Was it when they were on a long walk with their spouses, Chea and Alan, while visiting the Daniels’ cottage? Or was it during a far-reaching conversation sitting together on a sofa? Hmmm…
Lea Daniel
They do agree on one thing: once Lea brought the idea forward, it just clicked.
“We just started to talk about it, back and forth,” Lea recalls. “And by the end, we were already writing it together.”
Gary adds: “Originally, I was thinking: this is Lea’s play, so I was sort of talking as my dramaturgy person. But by the end, there were too many stories. … And it was a scary moment because you think: I really like this play, but I don’t want to take it away from Lea!”
No worries. Lea welcomed the collaboration. Let the writing begin.

So, what did they create?

You could say Pocket Rocket, which premieres April 20 at Kitchener’s Registry Theatre, is about road hockey. It has three “periods,” just like a hockey game. The title reflects the nickname of hockey legend Henri Richard. And the characters do bond over hockey sticks.
But that’s just the springboard.  At its heart, Pocket Rocket is a funny, poignant exploration of friendship, life’s transitions — and Canadian identity.

In the beginning…

Gary Kirkham
Lea and Gary can be forgiven for their hazy memories of their first creative mash-up. We are going back about five years, after all.
The pair had developed a friendship through Writers’ Bloc, a playwriting initiative launched in 1998 by Theatre & Company, a professional theatre troupe that had taken Kitchener-Waterloo by storm. (Lost & Found Theatre developed out of that troupe.)
Before joining Writers’ Bloc, run by dramaturge Henry Bakker, Lea had written books for children and Gary had written sketch comedy, but neither had tackled a play.
Gary is only partly joking when he intones with a laugh: “Henry Bakker changed our lives.…”
Indeed he did.
In those early days, who could have guessed that in 2001 Gary would be commissioned to write a play, Queen Milli of Galt, to open Theatre & Company’s new home, now the Conrad Centre for the Performing Arts? And that was just the beginning. Since then, more than 50 theatres, including Lost & Found, have produced Gary’s plays. Falling: A Wake, which Lost & Found premiered in 2007, is currently enjoying a two-month run in Belgium, using its French translation.
Meanwhile, Lea’s drama/comedy Naked was produced by Lost & Found in 2013. Her play Heretic has had four workshops/readings, including a 2010 juried selection by Foundry Theatre in Toronto. An excerpt of Colour Me Fuchsia was presented at an International Women’s Day fundraiser in 2007.
So Writers’ Bloc was quite the launching pad.
Lea credits Bakker’s insightful coaching as well as artistic director Stuart Scadron-Wattles’ commitment to the program. The novice scripts were turned over to the troupe’s actors for a reading  — and an eye-opening education.
“All of a sudden all of the nuances that you didn’t even know about would come out,” Gary says. “That was the biggest learning curve for all of us — the words on the page were transformed by actors.”

Pocket’s progress

It was a lesson well learned. Even with experience under their belts, Lea and Gary welcome the insights that workshops and public readings bring to a script.
So they were delighted in 2014 when Pocket Rocket was chosen for a one-week workshop / reading with Theatre Calgary, a company renowned for its development of new works.
“(The actors) are in the room to bring these characters alive,” Gary says. “Not to explore the internal character like an actor, but to explore the external actions of their characters like a director would.”
But surely it must be an ego-bruising experience as a director and actors expose your play’s flaws, setting the stage for more rewrites and reshaping?
Not for Lea, who describes it as an “amazing experience” and praises the intelligence of the Calgary professionals.
“I don’t have any problems taking things out or changing things, even when I’m in the heat of the writing — if it makes it better,” she says.
Rewriting during a workshop is even easier, she says: “You’ll see (the problem) right there in front of you.”
Their commitment to quality has paid off. In 2014 Pocket Rocket was short-listed for the Playwrights Guild of Canada’s Tom Hendry award for new comedy.
Meanwhile, in Kitchener…
At the time of our interview, casting was still in progress for Lost & Found’s production of Pocket Rocket.
But director Kim Blackwell, artistic director of 4th Line Theatre in the Peterborough area, was more than familiar with the script, having led a Kitchener workshop/public reading last year. Audience reaction was positive.
Still, Lea and Gary were anticipating more tweaks ahead as rehearsals began.
“The second week (of rehearsals) is when line cuts happen pretty extensively,” Gary says. “All of a sudden the actors are emotionally there, and all of a sudden they drop a line and the scene just goes from here to here. And you go, “Wow that was great,” and the stage manager says, “Well they just dropped two lines.”  He laughs. “Those lines are gone.…”
No wonder Lea and Gary talk about playwriting as an organic process. Each step adds revelations, and each revelation brings changes and polishing.
Until the big reveal.
Next blog April 7: Lea and Gary divulge the deep, dark secrets of collaborative playwriting.

(Special thanks to photographers Alan Daniel and Tom Vogel)

So, get your tickets! Pocket Rocket is not to be missed, whether you are a hockey player, an avid bystander or, most importantly, someone who loves great theatre. Lost and Found Theatre presents Pocket Rocket April 20-30, 2016, at the Registry Theatre, 122 Frederick St., Kitchener.

Extra! Extra! To get you in the mood, a collection of short street hockey videos by artist Dwight Storring will be shown before each performance of Pocket Rocket.