By Joe Szekeres
For the past fifteen years, as some students and their families take a March Break, I make a return to school; I attend Whitby’s Trafalgar Castle School.
Friday March 9, 2018 marked a decade and a half of Driftwood Theatre 's Artistic Director Jeremy Smith’s annual gift to Durham Region where his love of live theatre began.
According to the Driftwood website, ‘Trafalgar 24 is a signature theatre creation event and fundraising gala. For 24 hours, and with eight hours of rehearsal, eighteen performance artists and directors rehearsed and performed six new plays of playwrighting teams in and among the halls, nooks and crannies of a 19th century castle, Whitby’s Trafalgar Castle School (formerly known as the Ontario Ladies’ College)’.
If you have never participated in Trafalgar 24, I would heartily encourage you to attend next year as it is an enlightening, informative and magical evening. CKDO Host Terry Johnston polled the crowd during his opening address to see how many newcomers there were to this event, and I was highly impressed with the number attending for the first time.
Jeremy elaborated further in the programme, “I’ve always loved a good yarn. Stories carry such extraordinary power: in the way they hold us, nurture us, bring us together, question us, challenge us and entertain us. And what better place to draw out inspiring and rich stories than in a real-life, honest to goodness castle.”
Right you are, Jeremy. I, for one, love an intriguing story, and I agree, what better place to be inspired as a writer, director actor and audience member than in a castle?
Guests and patrons of this evening also have an important task to complete. Upon seeing all six plays, the audience selects one script which is worthy of further consideration and adaptation for a playwright in residence at Driftwood. This selection is not to be based on performances but solely on the script and story itself. We were divided into groups to watch each of the six plays with an approximately twenty-minute intermission after the third presentation before continuing with the final three.
This year’s line up of original pieces certainly challenged many of us for their subject material using puppetry, song, movement, education and the subconscious mind. I will admit that there were a couple of titles where I was scratched my head at the conclusion and wondered what the story was about – ‘Sister Brother Father Worm’ by Rhiannon Collett was billed as worms have hearts, an exorcism in six parts. No clue as to what this one was about so not even going to try to explain the plot.
There were some amusing pieces – ‘The Regencia Revolution’ by Warren Bain and Matt Bernard billed as A new ruler will be crowned in the kingdom of Regencia. Revolution or devolution? For some apparent reason, I kept wondering if this was a comment on Britain’s Royal Family.
‘Advanced Placement’ by Ran Zhu was billed as Parent Teacher Night at Whitby Secondary School. Attendance mandatory. As a recently retired teacher, I recognised the biting wit of the teacher who wonders how to deal with a helicopter parent of an honours student. This one, for me, had potential but had too many things happening at once.
On a personal note, the most entertaining of the evening was the musical ‘Midnight at the Laundromat’ by Sophia Fabiilli and composed by Aaron Jensen. It was billed as A woman is alone in a laundromat at midnight. Her boyfriend has cheated on her with a woman who has bedbugs. Now WOMAN has bedbugs and no boyfriend. Nice vocal work here with a silly but heartwarming story.
Alicia Richardson was selected as the writer in residence at Driftwood this year for the further development and adaptation of her piece “Solve for X”. It was billed as the story of an uber-nerd who invites the woman of his dreams into his subconscious mind. I liked it, didn’t love it, but thought it had potential as we enter the mind of an uber nerd and how he truly feels about the woman he adores.
And yes, this year’s Bard’s Bus Tour summer 2018 play was announced, "Rosalynde (or As You Like It)"
I am always proud to say that I was part of Jeremy Smith’s formative years as one of his teacher at Oshawa’s Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School. I am equally proud and honoured that he has done so well in continuing to bring live theatre across Ontario this summer to many park locations. Check out their website for more information about the company, the Bard’s Bus Tour, and what else is going on.
See you this summer, Jer.