Monday, October 31, 2011

re:union | about robert mcnamara

Some background information on Robert McNamara, a key character in RE:UNION.

Robert McNamara began his career with the United States Armed Forces when he was teaching analytical approaches used in business to officers, leading him to become a captain in 1943 and serve in the army during WWII with the Office of Statistical Control. There he measured the US bombers’ efficiency and effectiveness. After the war he worked with the Ford Motor Company, becoming the first president of Ford from outside Henry Ford’s family in 1960. In that same year he was appointed Secretary of Defense by John F. Kennedy.

Along with Kennedy, McNamara moved the United States policy away from unlimited retaliation and first-strike attack to limited wars and a flexible response.

His involvement in the Vietnam War was so strong that it is often referred to as “McNamara’s War”. He was instrumental in the escalation of the war, using analysis and logic both to determine targets as well as the outcome of the war. Later he became skeptical of his own strategy, seeing that he had underestimated the number of Viet Cong fighters.

Later McNamara claimed that his support for the Vietnam War was out of loyalty to the presidential office. In the documentary The Fog of War he stated “None of our allies supported us. Not Japan, not Germany, not Britain or France. If we can't persuade nations with comparable values of the merit of our cause, we'd better reexamine our reasoning." He also states in the documentary the lesson that “Rationality will not save us”, clearly developed in response to his approach of using reason and logic to determine actions in the Vietnam War.

He later issued critical statements of the Bush administration’s 2003 invasion of Iraq, and did meet with President Bush to discuss the war in 2006.

For more info on McNamara breaking his silence to criticize the Iraq War, see this article from The Globe & Mail:

Transcript from a 1984 court proceeding with McNamara

Q: You said, Secretary McNamara, that you had reached the conclusion that the [Vietnam] war cold not be won militarily no later than mid-1966. Is that correct?

RM: I said I believed I had reached the conclusion the war cold not be won militarily no later than sixty-six.

Q: And am I correct that it was your recollection, at least at the time of your deposition, that you might have reached the conclusion as early as 1965?

RM: I believe I may have reached the conclusion as early as the latter part of 1965.

October 21-November 12

nov. 10-19 | mary's wedding | giovanni mocibob

Giovanni Mocibob took on the challenging role of Asher in MY NAME IS ASHER LEV last season. Now he's playing in Gateway's upcoming production of MARY'S WEDDING. Our guy Lauchlin Johnston (set designer for ASHER) is also designing this show! Info below.

“Tonight is just a dream …” With the sweep of a romance novel, Mary’s Wedding begins and ends in sweet dreams of love. Mary and Charlie meet in 1914, with the world on the brink of The Great War. In Mary’s dream, she relives her first meeting with Charlie, falling in love, and reading his letters from the trenches. A moving memorial to the human cost of war, this is the haunting journey of one woman who must deal with the past before she can look to the future.

NOVEMBER 10– 19, 2011
Studio Series in Studio B
Buy Tickets.

Director Natasha Nadir, Set and Lighting Designer Lauchlin Johnston, Costume Designer Taylor Tuson, and Stage Manager Samara Van Nostrand.
Mary’s Wedding features, Nicola Elbro and Giovanni Mocibob.

Friday, October 28, 2011

re:union | a vietnam war vet talks about the norman morrison stamp

Serendipity can be a wonderful and awesome thing. If you’ve seen Re:Union, you might recall that there’s a scene that includes mention of a postage stamp issued in 1965 by North Vietnam. The stamp bears Norman Morrison’s image, since he became an instant folk hero in that country. To this date, we’ve only ever seen this stamp online. But read below how someone stamp collectors in Vancouver have a rare connection to Re:Union and Norman Morrison.

October 26, 2011

Dear Mr. Devine,

My name is Bob Ingraham, and I’m the Past President of the BC Philatelic Society. Yesterday I attended a meeting of the executive of the society. The president handed me a postcard advertising your play, Re:Union, knowing that I would be interested. Our vice-president, Trevor Larden, who also has an interest in the subject of your play, also got a card.

Trevor could tell his story better. In a nutshell, he travelled briefly with Norman Morrison and his wife in the eastern Mediterranean in the early 60s, and has a photograph he took of them.

Trevor and I were attending a "Show & Tell" meeting of our stamp club one night, when I happened to show a North Vietnam stamp commemorating Norman Morrison's self-immolation. I don't recall Trevor's exact (and loud) words, but they were along the lines of "Good God! I don't believe it!" He had not previously been aware of the existence of the stamp. He went on to explain how he had travelled briefly with Norman Morrison and his wife, and that he had a photograph of them which he had taken.

Since that time, I have obtained a North Vietnam Red Cross cover posted to the South African Red Cross [which has] one of the Norman Morrison stamps. It’s probably not a rare cover, but it's certainly not common, either. I've attached it to this email.

A note about my political background. When I joined the U.S. Navy in 1962, I naively thought that the world was at peace. I was almost a "born again anti-communist," having been effectively brainwashed by my teachers and by a Catholic priest who held public anti-communist rallies.

I am a Vietnam veteran. I served as a hospital corpsman with the U.S. Marines in Quang Ngai Province from Jan. 28, 1966, until March 5th of the same year, when my company was ambushed by elements of an NVA regiment. My platoon commander was the first casualty, although he was not killed. By the end of the battle, my company counted 10 killed and 20 wounded. I was one of the wounded; early in the battle, an NVA bullet hit me above my right knee and nearly tore off my leg.

At the time of my landing in Quang Ngai, I still believed that I was fighting for freedom for the Vietnamese people and protecting my country from communism. Within about 24 hours, I decided I had been duped. I understood clearly that the U.S. was simply wrong about Vietnam. The South Vietnamese people didn't need to be protected from the communists as much as they needed protection from their own government. They needed decent food and medical care and schools more than they needed U.S. military intervention. In addition to nearly losing my life and the "pound of flesh" that the military took, I lost my allegiance to the U.S. After graduating from the University of Missouri, I took a job in Ottawa; both my wife and I are now Canadian citizens, although in truth I don't feel much allegiance to Canada or any other country. This country just happens to be one of the safer ones to live in, and one which doesn't feel the need to be the biggest bully on the block.

Best regards,


Thursday, October 27, 2011

oct 29 | subscriber appreciation saturday

By now most of you have already heard of our Subscriber Appreciation Saturdays. The second Saturday of every show we have a special event, providing exciting and exclusive behind the scenes information to our subscribers as our way of saying thank you. It's your opportunity to get to know the artists involved in the production, get brand new information, and an in-depth look at the context and content of the show.  Here's the information for the RE:UNION event, coming up this Saturday!

Subscriber Appreciation Saturdays: The RE:UNION Edition

Saturday, October 29th starting 20 minutes after the matinee (approx. 4:30)

Artistic Director Ron Reed will be joined by playwright Sean Devine and actor Andrew Wheeler (McNamara) to screen selections from The Fog of War, the award-winning documentary featuring Robert McNamara.  (And hey: we've also got several copies of the DVD on hand to loan to you audience types, if you want to dig in a little deeper - whether before or after you see the play. Just ask someone in our box office and they'll happily lend you a disk.)

Conversation will center around the political context for the play, Sean's research road trip to DC, and Andrew's experience portraying such an iconic historical figure on stage.

If you’re a subscriber, get ready to stick around after the matinee, come early for the evening show, or drop by after your Saturday errands for an extra dose of culture.

re:union | war protest images

Some images Sean Devine found on his research trip to Washington DC of Vietnam War protesters.

October 21-November 12

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

re:union | the green room

Opening night is always a fun, if slightly manic, night for all the artists involved.  After RE:UNION I caught up with the cast and crew in their natural habitat: the green room.  Here's what I found, starting with a special gift from Robert McNamara himself (and yes, it does appear he spelled his own name wrong)!


Director John Langs with Andrew Wheeler (McNamara)

ASM Catherine Ballachey

Playwright Sean Devine with costume designer Flo Barrett
(touching up her nails) and artist manager Alison Chisholm.

Friday, October 21, 2011

re:union | photos

Here's your first taste of the photos from RE:UNION, opening tonight!

Re:Union by Sean Devine
Oct 21 - Nov 12

Pictured: Evan Frayne as Norman Morrison,
Alexa Devine as Emily Morrison, Andrew Wheeler as Robert McNamara

Thursday, October 20, 2011

re:union | the province

RE:UNION is featured in The Province today!  Below is the article written by Lena Sing (available in its original context here), and you can check out the video they created about the show here

In November 1965 Norman Morrison, a Quaker, peace activist and teacher, drove to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., doused himself with kerosene and lit a match.

By setting himself on fire, Morrison made the ultimate sacrifice in protest of the Vietnam War. The message was aimed directly at Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara, whose office was above Morrison’s chosen location for self-immolation.

His death became headline news and not just for its extremeness. Also drawing the world’s attention was his daughter Emily. Just nine days shy of turning one, Morrison had brought her with him, though she was found completely unharmed.

More than forty years later, Morrison’s death has long faded from public memory. But when Vancouver playwright Sean Devine first read about this real-life tale three years ago, he was immediately struck by Morrison’s act.

Devine, who’s first play Re:Union is based on Morrison’s story, instinctively knew this was a tale worth exploring, with all its complicated questions about social and personal responsibility and the messy implications of taking action, or not.

“Regardless of whether he intended to kill her [his daughter], he knowingly accepted a fate that he would no longer see her again. He knowingly said ‘I’m willing to give up seeing that amazing little girl for the rest of my life, as well as my other two kids, as well as my wife, as well as life itself’ and that kind of commitment that is not from an insane person, but is from someone who just cares so deeply, it just blew me away,” said Devine, a father of two.

Re:Union, produced by Vancouver’s Pacific Theatre, is not a strict re-telling of historical events but rather a story rooted partly in fact, partly in fiction. It starts with Morrison’s death (fact) and fast-forwards to post 9/11 when a grown-up Emily returns to the scene of her father’s death and confronts McNamara (fiction).

There are difficulties, of course, in writing a play based on real people and partially real events. Devine knew it was important to get the family’s input. So after writing his first draft based on as much available research as possible, including a memoir written by Morrison’s widow, Anne, he contacted the family.

Feeling slightly terrified, he sent them his play.

“They sent back a really long letter and basically said although they completely appreciate my intentions, there’s so much in what I’ve written that they can’t support because it was so factually wrong and not just factually wrong but wrong according to their characters,” says Devine.

With the family’s feedback, the character of Emily went from passive and broken-up about her father’s actions to an ardent supporter of her father’s act, something the real Emily clearly expressed to him, says Devine.

Re:Union could be read both on a macro and micro level. On the one hand, it asks big questions about our role in shaping society and how we live by our beliefs. On a more intimate level, it’s about a father’s relationship with his daughter.

In real life, the consequences of Morrison’s death would not be fully revealed for decades. While cynics perhaps saw only that his sacrifice did not end the war, McNamara admitted in a 1996 memoir that he had misgivings about the war and that Morrison’s death stirred those feelings and deepened public dissent.

Evan Frayne, who plays Morrison, says the play speaks directly to our times and the constant struggle to do what’s right for society, our families and ourselves.

“It’s a lovely story about a father and his daughter and it’s about a moment of them connecting. It’s how his passion re-ignites her passion to live the way she believes is right,” he says.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

re:union | artistic director's notes

The opportunity to see the emergence of Sean Devine's first new play from its early stages has been a privilege. It was clear at the outset that this powerful, truthful actor and adventurous artistic director was also a fine playwright: the characters were complex and fascinating from the outset, they spoke naturally, the language had extraordinary flashes of poetry, and the theatrical conception of the piece was appealing. What has grown in the year and a half since has been story - the hardest part, really, for many playwrights, but foundational, essential. Without story, without a narrative that draws us in and pulls us along, it's not a play: it may be art, it may be poetry or movement or a performance piece or circus or spectacle, it may even involve a dramatic situation... But without story, without "what happens next, it's not drama.

Well, it turns out Sean is also a story-teller. I have marvelled to see him craft story out of the unquestionably dramatic circumstances of the lives of Norman Morrison, his daughter Emily, and that most self-contradictory and fascinating of 20th century figures, Robert McNamara. And he's done it the hard way, with non-sequential timelines and the interweaving of stories set several decades apart.

The result? A remarkably entertaining, gripping, and provoking piece of theatre which reminds us that the issues of conscience of another time may very well be as essential and as baffling today as they were half a century ago. Circumstances change, eras pass, but the challenges of our human experience remain strikingly the same.

Ron Reed,
Artistic Director, Pacific Theatre

October 21-November 12

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

oct 20-31 | debts | mack gordon, kaitlin gordon

Written and directed by Mack Gordon (YOU STILL CAN'T) and featuring Kaitlin Gordon (THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, I WAS MEANT FOR THE STAGE, GODSPELL, THE VERONA PROJECT), this one is a must-see!

ITSAZOO productions is pleased to present DEBTS, a unique blend of live theatre, haunted house, and radio play at the historic Roedde House Museum in Vancouver’s West End. Inspired by the classic works of Edgar Allen Poe, and set in the style of 80’s slasher flicks, the audience will join five teenagers as they crash a wedding from hell and discover that some DEBTS can only be paid with their lives. DEBTS runs October 19-31, 2011.

Written and directed by Jessie-nominated Mack Gordon, DEBTS features performances from James Avramenko, Bryan Nothling, Jayme Burke, Keira Danniels, Dan Johnston, Mike Klemak, Brett Harris, Laureen Smith and Kaitlin Williams.

Built in 1893, the Roedde House Museum acts as perfect backdrop and haunting setting for this unique play. This genuine heritage home gives the opportunity for authentic experiences that an audience would never be able to have in a theatre. DEBTS creates a narrative through line for Poe's tales, philosophies and moods, including The Fall of the House of Usher, Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Premature Burial and other classic tales.

The details:

by Mack Gordon
Roedde House Museum (1415 Barclay St)
Pay-what-you-can Preview: Wednesday, October 19
Opening: October 20
Runs through until October 31, nightly at 7 and 9 pm
(no shows Oct 23 and 24)
Tickets: $15 and $19
or cash-only at the door (when available).

Monday, October 17, 2011

buzz builders | a referral program

We're looking for Buzz Builders at PT!

No, not that kind of Buzz -- what we're talking about is that hum of excited chatter that comes when everyone is talking about a new show.

We all know that word-of-mouth is the name of the game for getting people to do, well, anything.  That's is why most preshow speeches will include a statement that sounds something like this: "If you like the show, please tweet, text, phone, facebook, and email your friends to tell them about it!  If you didn't like the show... don't say anything."  Well, we don't want to ask you to do all that work for us without giving you anything in return, so we are offering a little thank you gift for each person you send our way.

Here's how it works: for every person that comes to see a show at PT because you told them about it, you get a $3 credit on your account -- that's the equivalent of 10% off our top ticket price.  So if you get 10 people to come see a show, that's a free ticket to a Saturday night.  Do you subscribe and already have tickets?  Use the credits to bring a friend, or even apply them towards next season's subscription.  The possibilities are endless!

Want to get in on the deal?  It's a simple step-by-step process:

  1. See a show at Pacific Theatre and just love it.
  2. Rally every method of communication at your fingertips and tell your friends to get out and see the show.
  3. Make sure your friends mention that they heard about the show from you when they call to book in their tickets.
  4. You get a $3 credit on your account for the next time you call in to book your own tickets.
It's that easy!  We truly could not continue to do our work without people encouraging their friends to come in and fill the seats night after night.  We don't take the contribution of your time, money, and attention lightly.  This is our latest way to say thank you.

re:union | playwright's notes

I came across the life of Norman Morrison and his brave and mysterious act of sacrifice while researching Robert McNamara and Vietnam War-era politics for another play. I read a biography that focused on five individuals whose own lives served as political allegories for McNamara’s life and times. The chapter called ”The Burning of Norman R. Morrison” has since been read dozens of times, with more text underlined than not. Simply put, I was astonished at the mythical improbability, the unimaginable sense of mission, the surging and conflicting emotions that propelled a young husband and father, level-headed, somewhat reserved but always passionate, to get inside his car and drive off with his infant daughter to do what he did. For the sake of a nation of humans half a world away, none of whom he’d ever met, seen or spoken to. I’ve since been inside my own car with either of my two young children and tried to imagine how such a thing could be possible in a father’s mind: to say goodbye to your family forever, let alone to risk bringing your youngest child into the fire with you. I don’t know how he was able to do it, but I still feel only admiration for what he did. I can only use the word admiration because I’ve been told by Norman’s wife and daughter Emily that, without a shadow of a doubt, they remain proud of his choice and action on that day.

Although I’m not sure if he coined the phrase, Norman Morrison once said that “Without the inspired act, no generation resumes the search for love.” The generation that Norman Morrison inspired emboldened themselves with a conviction of love for all humanity that helped topple unstoppable forces. It’s a beautiful concept to imagine that the power of love, light and courage can always outlive hate, darkness and fear.

Sean Devine

October 21-November 12
Pacific Theatre

Thursday, October 13, 2011

re:union | the activist city

Throughout the run of RE:UNION Horseshoes & Hand Grenades will be hosting a series of community events called THE ACTIVIST CITY.  These will be a great way to dig into the material of the play: military, war, and activism.

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre and Pacific Theatre present RE:UNION Oct 20 - Nov 12. Alongside the production, HHG Theatre presents The Activist City, a series of community events on political activism, community responsibility and anti-militarism. As part of the City of Vancouver’s 125th Anniversary, The Activist City reflects our city’s long and proud history of activist leadership.

Re:Union is a work of fiction, based on real events. On Nov 2, 1965, Norman Morrison drove to The Pentagon with his infant daugh-ter, a jug of kerosene and a box of matches. With U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara looking on, the young Quaker carries out a final act of witness against the horrors of the Vietnam War. Thirty-six years later, in the wake of 9/11, his daughter returns to confront the aging McNamara, the memory of her father, and the costly legacy of sacrifice.

As the artists behind both Re:Union and The Activist City, we can’t help but see the parallel between 31 year-old Quaker Norman Morrison’s act of self-immolation that catalyzed a citizen’s revolt in 1960’s United States, and the self-immolation of 26 year-old Tu-nisian street-vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, which not only resulted in the unseating of the Tunisian regime, but set in motion an un-precedented chain of events across the Arab World. Even more recently, the ongoing Occupy Wall Street campaign mirrors the citi-zen-led uprising the Morrison’s act of witness catalyzed. Accordingly, the various themes and subjects that we wish to incorporate into this outreach series include topics such as current global trends in citizen activism, spirituality in activism, government-initiated threats to activism, and finally, Vancouver's role as an activist city.

The Activist City / Event Details (subject to change)

Guest Blogs / Re:Union Creative Team & Special Guests
October 10 - November 12

Artist Talkbacks / Cast & Playwright
Fri Oct 28 / Fri Nov 4 / Fri Nov 11 / Pacific Theatre / After the 8:00 pm performance

Poetry Reading (Anniversary of Norman Morrison’s death) / Special Guests
Wed Nov 2 @ 5:30 pm (8:00pm performance to follow) / Pacific Theatre

Community Workshop: The Contemporary Activist / Facilitated by Mobilization Against War & Occupation
Thu Nov 3 @ 2:00 pm - 6:00pm / Pacific Theatre / Suggested donation $15

Panel Discussion: The Activist as Extremist / Moderator: Camyar Chai / Special Guests
Sat Nov 5 @ 5:30pm (8:00pm performance to follow) / Pacific Theatre / Suggested donation $3

Special Guest Talk: Gail Davidson (Lawyers Against The War) / Lawlessness at the State Level: The Activist Response
Thu Nov 10 @ 5:30 pm (8:00 pm performance to follow) / Pacific Theatre / Suggested donation $5

Panel Discussion: The Activist as Occupier / Moderator: Marcus Youssef / Special Guests
Nov 12 @ 5:30 pm (8:00 pm performance to follow) / Pacific Theatre / Suggested donation $3

Artists-in-Schools / Student Discussions / Cast & Playwright
Wed Nov 16 @ Trinity University

For more info, or for tickets to Re:Union, please visit:

Vancouver Foundation helps build more vibrant and resilient communities in BC. We do this by harnessing the gifts of energy, ideas, time, and money from caring citizens to make meaningful and lasting impacts. We are Canada’s largest community foundation and we’ve been investing in communities since 1943. To find out more visit:

re:union | about norman morrison

Some background information about Norman Morrison, the inspiration for RE:UNION.  Most of the information comes from a thorough article in The Baltimore Sun titled "Of Norman Morrison: Thirty years ago a Baltimore Quaker set himself on fire to protest the Vietnam War. Did it make a difference?"

Norman Morrison
December 29, 1933-November 2, 1965
Born in Erie, Pennsylvania
A Baltimore Quaker
Survived by his wife Anne Morrison and his children Ben, Christina, and Emily

How he is remembered by friends and family:

He rode a second-hand bike and liked to wear a helmet.

He was fond of carpentry and gardening and ice hockey – a sport which he played hard; once in a casual, pickup game he came close to cracking his opponent’s rib.

He liked to clunk around the house in the morning wearing only boxer shorts and big, black shoes.

He delighted in frugality -- bought his suits for $2 and $3 at rummage sales -- and was fascinated by the stock market, although he never bought a stock in his life.

He liked to dance -- had a natural sense of rhythm -- but had some misgivings about it. He could even wiggle his ears to a beat. He liked to hold his 5-year-old daughter, Tina, and swing her round and round to the music of Scottish reels.

He earned degrees from the College of Wooster and Western Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. He planned to enter the Presbyterian ministry but instead became a Quaker in 1959 and worked professionally in the Society of Friends. His salaried position as executive secretary at the Stony Run Friends Meeting in Baltimore included attending committee meetings, visiting homes and ministering to its 420 members.

He could be very distracted and often seemed to have his mind focused on something other than the task at hand. At the same time, he took pleasure in finishing a job in half the time it might normally require.

He was frustrated by his inability to communicate as a public speaker and was not always at ease socially.

Each year he withheld $5 from his income tax as a "token protest" against the federal government's military budget.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

oct 14/15 | monster

A Craning Neck Theatre/ Theatre Conspiracy Co-production

The Saint Plays by Erik Ehn: "Contemporary fairy tales for the stage"

Theatre Conspiracy's artist-in-residence Jeremy Waller of Craning Neck Theatre presents a workshop production of Monster Director

"This showcase is the first of three phases exploring Erik Ehn's new play Monster, a piece about the saint of broadcasting and television, St. Clare. The world of the play is one where time and character collide in the blood and pain of six women and a drunk. Using a strong juxtaposition between hyper-realism and physical theatre, in this first workshop we are looking for a common metaphor between the secular and the religious, between intuition and cold reality, from the 13th century to present-day Vancouver. Exploring the pathways of transcendence between fear and hope, blindness and vision, we are searching for a staging — a design within Ehn's script that is able to communicate beyond belief and analysis, and beyond tragedy, to an experience of perspective.

"This showcase is raw and unfinished. Design ideas are incomplete and striving to the point of breaking. The time constraints of a one-week workshop have not hindered our leaping, and the result, I think, is a beautiful and rigorous piece of theatre." Jeremy Waller,

Friday, Oct 14 and Saturday, Oct 15
Two performances each night - 7:30pm and 9:30pm

1132 Semlin Drive
(a small cabin in East Vancouver — please go around back of house)

Tickets: $15
Email to reserve tickets

Monday, October 10, 2011

oct. 30 | songs for harvest

A night of music in to support relief in Japan and Somalia, tickets by donation.

re:union | interview with sean devine

An interview with RE:UNION playwright Sean Devine.

PT: What made you want to write this play?

SD: I’d been doing research into 1960s era U.S. politics for a couple of other plays I’m writing, and came across this great biography of Robert McNamara. The book just so happened to draw upon the life and actions of Norman Morrison as an allegory for the Vietnam War. Although McNamara still proves to be mythically complex and contradictory personality of epic proportions, the singular and private gesture that culminated Norman Morrison’s quiet life of conscientious activism proved impossible to ignore; both as a writer and as human being.

Although I’m drawn to creating stories that explore the corrupt, cruel and arrogant elements of humanity and our institutions, I’m an optimist at the end of the day, with tremendous faith in the individual. And so as much as I despise the deceit and treachery depicted in the eras I’ve dramatized, I’m inspired by the self-less acts of others. It’s a David & Goliath story in the end.

But by no means do I consider myself to be David. In fact, I associate myself more with the sense of uselessness and futility in the face of hated corruption. It’s one thing to write a play about noble sacrifice, but it’s another thing entirely to act and sacrifice one’s self nobly. Through writing this play, however, and through the activities that will surround its production, I’ve come to know some people who’s lives are indeed committed to nobly sacrificing for the sake of their fellow human beings. It’s inspiring.

Another aspect that draws me in is that I love doing the research, which is always exciting but can slow down the actual creating. I think it’s at least 4 years ago that I picked up that McNamara book, and I’m sure that not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought about the characters to some extent.

For me, the most rewarding part of research is how close it can sometimes bring me to the actual events or people themselves. Through this process, I’ve stood near the site where Norman Morrison died, I’ve seen the house that he drove away from on that day, I’ve walked across the centre of The Pentagon, and most importantly, I’ve had very emotional conversations with Norman Morrison’s best friend, daughter and wife.

PT: What relevance do you hope this has for an audience in 2011?

SD: That was definitely a concern I had as I started writing this play. Vietnam? 9/11, even? Who’ll care?

I reassured myself in the knowledge that this story from an incident back 1965 wouldn’t have me so pre-occupied if it didn’t have strong currency today. And not only currency in making sense of the current world, but currency in understanding my place in the greater scheme of things. Which is something we all ask.

I remember reading a comment by another writer that people are often fascinated by the socio-political era that immediately preceded their birth, since it often provides context in which to understand their adult environment. I definitely sense some truth in there.

If I can the questions of the play down to bare bones, and create a bridge for its relevance today: are we just as violent a society today as we were in 1965? Has our generation learned to be more peaceful? Have people, as a whole, learned to take more collective and individual responsibility for the actions and policies of our leaders? What is the most effective recourse for action when the change that’s needed is so great?

If this story can be seen as an example of raising one’s voice against authoritative belligerence and tyranny, you can’t help but make a parallel to the world-changing revolutions happening across the Arab world. And it just so happens that last year’s citizen-revolt in Tunisia, which ignited this entire global shift, started with one Tunisian man setting himself on fire to protest the corruption of his own government.

PT: What has your development process with U.S director John Langs been like?

SD: It’s been very good. John came on board back when this project was initially a partnership between Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre and a great company out of Seattle called New Century Theatre Company. I really liked John as an artist, and his experience with new script development was immediately apparent. What was most useful for me was how much he insisted that the “story” needed to be in place before we could hang a structure around it.

Heidi Taylor and Playwrights Theatre Centre were also of tremendous support, and over a long period, which was very generous of PTC. Heidi probably knows as much (if not more) about the script and the subject matter than I do.

But the greatest part of this two-year development process as a whole was the scope of involvement we were able to receive from all the creative team: director, dramaturg, designers, performers, production manager, producers, everyone. We were very fortunate with our development funding and this was exactly what we wanted to do with it. Support a process where all the artists could shape the work in a manner that would best integrate their visions and talents.

PT: You are primarily known as an actor and producer in town, why the shift to playwriting?

SD: It’s not really a shift. It’s just that the writer in me has been dormant for so long. I graduated theatre school as a playwright, then wrote a couple things, and then just stopped for a long time. A long time. But this has always been what I wanted to return to.

I love acting, but I really love the ability to shape and build something complex over time. Maybe I’m not a good enough actor to see my roles as complex enough, or maybe I just need better roles!!!

PT: What's next for you and Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre?

SD: Well, this is definitely going to be a busy and risky couple of years for Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, because we’ve dedicated the next several seasons the creation, development and production of new works. That’s not a big deal for a lot of companies, but Re:Union is our first new work, so it’s a big deal for us. And we’re keenly aware of the substantial time and money required to bring a new work from genesis to production, and these aren’t the best of times.

My partners Alexa Devine and Mindy Parfitt are in the midst of developing a piece of devised theatre called The Forgiveness Project. And I’m currently the playwright-in-residence at Pi Theatre, developing a new work (that will hopefully involve Horseshoes in a co-pro) called Except in the Unlikely Event of War. That play’s due to have a public reading in December 2011, so I need to get moving!

Friday, October 07, 2011

oct 12 - 16 | holy trinity centennial

Pacific Theatre lives at Holy Trinity Church, at the corner of Hemlock and 12th Avenue, just east of Granville, and they're celebrating their hundredth birthday (!) this coming week with a terrific roster of events. I've already raved about Martyn Joseph, who you MUST NOT MISS (and which might very well sell out). Here's the details on the rest of the week's events. (The pipe organ / Chaplin film combo? Irresistable...)

click to enlarge

Holy Trinity Anglican Church Centennial
South Granville Landmark celebrates 100 years

The Chalmers’ Building at the southwest corner of 12th Avenue and Hemlock (1440 West 12th Ave.) also known as Holy Trinity, Anglican Church is celebrating 100 years as a landmark in the South Granville neighbourhood. The Holy Trinity community invites you to come mark this centennial with a week of special events and activites. The indoor swimming pool may be long gone, but there are many scheduled activities to enjoy. Or, why not come and explore the heritage building yourself during Building Open House, 10am-3pm on Saturday, October 15th? All are welcome to celebrate the centennial but all are welcome to share and participate in worship or Holy Trinity's other offerings any week.

The first event in the week long celebration of Holy Trinity's Centennial - Celebrate a South Granville Landmark will be a concert October 12th at 7:30pm by Martyn Joseph, acclaimed singer-songwriter with guest Stewart Henderson in support of World Vision Canada. Click the link to enjoy a song by Martyn Joseph.

The second event, October 13th at 7:30pm is, Testament of a Naked Man. The Reverend Angus Stuart presents a dramatic performance of Mark's Gospel.

The third event, October 14th, 7:30pm is Organ Blaster an organ recital by Holy Trinity's Organist, Michael Dirk. This performance will include a Charlie Chaplin movie and Michael will provide the background score just like the movie houses of the early 20th Century.

For tickets and information please contact the Parish Office - 604.731.3321

The Open House takes place on October 15th

Celebration Communion at 10:30am on Sunday October 16th and the week wraps up with a 1911 Festal Evensong at 7pm that evening.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

re:union | meet the cast

Introducing the cast of RE:UNION!  Instead of the usual headshot and bio, we decided to give you something a little different.  Where available we've got a photo of the actor, the historical character they're playing, and then some past productions you may have seen them in at PT.

Evan Frayne as Norman Morrison

Evan is a relative newcomer to the PT scene, but he's certainly made a splash.  As an apprentice last year he performed in JESUS HOPPED THE 'A' TRAIN and THE GREAT DIVORCE before directing his own adaptation of ROMEO AND JULIET.  Oh, and he won the Jessie Award for Most Promising Newcomer.  Here's a few photos that might help jog your memory about Evan:

Evan as Lewis in THE GREAT DIVORCE (photo by Ron Reed):

Evan as D'Angelo in JESUS HOPPED THE 'A' TRAIN (photo by Itai Erdal): 

Alexa Devine as Emily Cooper

Alexa's first show with PT was a little number called GRACE in 2007, a role that got her a Jessie Award nomination.  Since then she performed on our stage in the hit staged reading of THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT and has been awful busy co-running Horseshoes & Hand Grenades Theatre.

Alexa with Kerry Van Der Griend in GRACE:

Alexa with Dawn Petten in THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT (photo by Tim Matheson)

Andrew Wheeler as Robert McNamara

Now here's a treat!  This is Andrew's first time on the Pacific Theatre stage.  Not that he's a newcomer to the Vancouver theatre scene, of course.  Andrew was in AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY at The Arts Club last year and DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS at The Vancouver Playhouse, among many many other local productions.  Trust us, you've seen this guy around, if not on stage then on screen one of the many film and TV shows shot in Vancouver. (BEST IN SHOW, anyone?)

oct. 18-29 | romeo and juliet | twu

Our friends at Trinity Western University are launching their season with ROMEO AND JULIET, featuring a lot of the talent you saw on our stage in THE GREAT DIVORCE: Brandon Bate, Julie Casselman, Lyndon Johnson, and Sarah Ruth.

‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy...

Forbidden passions. Class rivalry. Religious tensions. This is the wrong neighbourhood to go looking for love.

But when love finds them, they’ll have to decide just how much they’re willing to risk for it…

Coupling the beauty of Shakespeare’s language with an imaginative, contemporary setting, this deeply human story is brought closer to home than ever before.

October 18 – 29, 2011

Tuesday – Saturday 7:30pm with Saturday Matinees 2pm
2-for-1 Preview Night October 18

Starring Brandon Bate, Rachel Bell, Julie Casselman, Megan Couch, Mark Fleming, Cody Friesen, Lyndon Johnson, Shayna Jones, Cara Lowdermilk, Becky MacDormand, Thomas Nelson, Sarah Ruth, Jordan Schuurman, David Shoffner, Jessica Van Elk, and Matthew Warnock.

Directed by Angela Konrad with stage management by Stephanie Priolo, Eleanor Felton, and Cara Lowdermilk. Set design by Omanie Elias, lighting by Nicole Bach, and costumes by Sabrina Evertt.

For tickets:

PS How's this for a serendipitous tie-in? On Nov 2 there'll be a screening at the VanCity Theatre of Baz Luhrmann's Romeo & Juliet - which has more than a little similarity to the concept for this TWU show - with the introductory talk given by TWU alumn and longtime Pacific Theatre gal Julie Sutherland! Watch the VanCity Theatre website for details, once the VIFF is done.

Monday, October 03, 2011

re:union | first rehearsal

A little footage from the table read at the first rehearsal for RE:UNION.

re:union | photos

The press photos for RE:UNION are in!

 All photos by Emily Cooper.  Pictured: Evan Frayne, Andrew Wheeler, and Alexa Devine.