Friday, December 8, 2023


Whoa. Thursday flew by. Sheba and I got an early start. We took a long walk together, but we left early so that I could be back in time to host our UK stammering group. Tracy, our leader, was joining us late, so I had to run the session until she joined us. And it was a good session. We had a new member with intellectual difficulties, and she is absolutely charming. Her dad sat through the session with her.

We started at 10:30 am, my time (it was 6:30 pm for all the others), and we went until 12:15. It was the longest session we’ve ever had. Then I quickly had lunch before another Zoom call, this time with Dianne. It was a great chat. It’s something we do regularly, and we both value our chance to talk together about life. We are both single, and we’ve been friends since college.

That ended at 2:00 and I had a chance to chill for a while before taking Her Highness to Rollo Park for our regular session of Fetch—well kind of fetch. She chases the ball, but she doesn’t return it to me. I must go to her and then throw it again. And repeat. When we got home, I was ready for the chaise. It had been a very busy day, but a wonderful one. 

And then Frank arrived to move the firebox in the studio. Finally, I have a legal woodstove in the studio and all the compliance requirements of my home insurer are met. Yipee.

The evening was spectacular because of another play. This time, it was Amadeus, and I loved it. But then, I love theatre passionately. I know a lot of theatre people. They are my people and the best people in the world, but I haven’t come across anyone who’s also a subscriber to National Theatre.

I subscribed to BroadwayHD yesterday. It’s nine bucks for a month, and there’s an enormous library of titles and documentaries. I’m going to watch my first play tonight. 

Working in Vancouver, opening nights were always the same audience: all of us in the industry from other companies who liked opening night parties were there. But my friends, and we’re all old now, have put their careers behind them, and focused on enjoying life offstage. 

What I love about National Theatre productions is the production budget. Amadeus has a monstrous cast. There is an army of musicians and only a slightly smaller group of actors. It looks like the show cost a million dollars.

I see BIG BUCKS in a great many of the National productions. They can hire excellence in every field. The productions are lush; they are extraordinary in vision and manifest on the stage. It’s pure heroin for me. And it’s what I need, living on this island and incapable of attending live theatre. No matter how visionary the creators of shows in Vancouver, they have modest budgets and its harder for them to wow as National Theatre does with every show. 

Once, I saved up a lot of cash and took myself on a tour. I called it my Mecca tour because I wanted to see theatres/theatre companies that I respected—Tarragon Theatre, for example, in Toronto, where Bill Glassco first produced Michel Tremblay plays in translation. They were monster hits, and so my boss, Bill Millerdgot the rights to those plays for our theatre in Vancouver where the plays were monster hits for us as well. French Canadian plays in translation made huge money that helped launch many emerging English language theatre companies. 

I had reasons like that to go to about a dozen theatres in Canada and the USA when I left Vancouver to visit the first one: Ken Cramer’s Globe Theatre, in Regina. Magic happened there. I went to see the show that was playing that evening. It was a historical story that had the characters in the play marching to city hall, and the theatre I was sitting in, was the former city hall. Goose bumps.

I had a list of questions with me when I went to each city. I called the theatre when I arrived, introduced myself, and arranged for an appointment with as senior a staff member as was willing to give me an hour of their time. I’d worked at the Arts Club for a few years and understood our strengths (many) and out weaknesses. I had professional experience in fundraising, budgeting, board relations, staffing issues and marketing. I could adapt to whomever was available from the theatres I was visiting. And it always went well with these meetings. I’d start asking my questions and after two or three, it just became a conversation, and I left with invitations, reservations, meals, and sometimes housing.

Since then, and beginning then, I realized the value of being part of the theatre community. They became the closest thing I ever felt to being part of a family. I put on plays in my garage at age five. My first job was teaching theatre in high school. My passion disappointed everyone who saw an academic career for me, but it fulfilled me. I always felt good about working in theatre because of the grand and proud history of theatre and its social influence over time.

I loved that we made and sold such ephemeral products. I had eye holes in many sets that enabled me to see the audience in the faded glare of the stage lighting, and I’d watch them. I could see who was together, because when a laugh occurred, everyone would laugh and then look at the other person or people in her party. And I’d see them cry. And I loved them all. And I’d think to myself: Our creation has taken over their minds. Right now, we own these people. Only when you watch the watchers can you see the power of what theatre does.

I was born this way.

That’s why, I think, I’m the subscriber. Theatre is my passion, and as a neglected child, finding family in theatre was salvation. My Mecca trip to my holy theatres was a highlight of my life. It’s a great and comforting memory. Theatre has given me direction and an infinitely rewarding source of deep, deep pleasure all my life.

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