Doug Mertz has received his April book bag curated by Michelle Thorne.
TAKE A LOOK AT Michelle’S PICKS and letter for doug!
First off let me say how much fun I have had putting together these selections for you. I was thrilled when I received the invitation from Theatre Alberta to participate in such an interesting project. I am envious of your position as the receiver!
Just to give you a little preface to why I chose the scripts that I did (a daunting, but exciting task to narrow it down to 5)- After much soul searching and deep consideration over the past several years, I made the choice last spring to say farewell to my incredible full time arts job and apply to go back to school to complete a master’s degree in directing for the stage. Although I enjoy a rich and rewarding life and career in Fort McMurray, Alberta, the wildfire and evacuation experience of spring 2016 opened my eyes to how precious and unpredictable life is and to make every moment count. With that in mind I decided what better time to throw caution to the wind and take a chance on following my dreams.
Applying to five prestigious programs across the Country was an overwhelming experience, and demanded I take a hard look at myself as an artist and what kind of work fueled my passions and interests as a Director. I have been pouring over scripts and playwrights for the better part of the past six months, putting together proposals of work that spoke to me as an Artist. So, for this “book bag” project, I wish to share with you selections of work that I hope to work on throughout my development as a Director. I hope you enjoy!
Selection #1: Lion in the Streets by Judith Thompson
Reading this play in my undergrad at the U of L was a life changing, “A-Ha” moment for me as a young budding theatre artist. It was my first exposure to Judith Thompson, and it totally blew my mind open of what I thought theatre could be and was. Being raised in a blue collar, industrial community, Thompsons salt-of-the-earth characters resonated vividly with me. Thompson has a gift for writing unique and complete character voices, and Lion in the Streets is a perfect example of her ability to intertwine such a vast variety of reflections on human nature. Raw, uncomfortable, and beautiful, I believe this script will have a stronghold in the Canadian cannon of theatre for generations to come.
Selection #2: Maggie & Pierre by Linda Griffiths
I have always been fascinated by Margaret Trudeau, and had a little bit of a fan-girl phase in my early twenties. Linda Griffiths’ tribute to the young Maggie – and her commentary on the relationship between her and one of Canada’s most infamous Prime Ministers is even more intriguing when read again in 2017 with their Prodigal Son in Parliament. I was first attracted to this script as a young actress because it allows for a tour-de-force performance with Griffiths’ original casting of one actress playing all three roles. Now, more developed in my career, I truly appreciate Linda Griffiths’ incredible ability to tell a notorious Canadian piece of history with grace and respect.
Selection #3: Finding Regina by Shoshana Sperling
Are you noticing a theme here? There is no doubt I have a strong love for Canadian female playwrights, and why not when we have so many incredible ones! Finding Regina is one of those classic examples of a true piece of Canadian Theatre. Simplistic, naturalistic, and although set specifically in Regina, I believe the theme of leaving your isolated home town vs. staying, and how that decision affects your relationships with your childhood friends, is incredibly relatable across the Country. This is an easy read, easy produced script which can have huge meaningful impacts.
Selection #4: The Shape of a Girl by Joan MacLeod
As an artist who has spent a huge amount of time working with students of all ages, it pains me how relevant this play is in our society. The atrocious acts inflicted upon Reena Virk in 1997 seem like that of a nightmare, but the scariest part is how real her experiences are for many youths across our country. Like Linda Griffiths, Joan McLeod has a knack for treating tragic real Canadian experiences and delivering them with a poetic message. Another one-woman show, this script is a helluva meal for both actor and director, and asks for an unsettling amount of vulnerability. However, theatre is meant to reflect issues being faced by a society, to bring attention and to elicit conversation. I believe this is a script that should be added into jr. high and high school level English/drama curriculum with the hopes of bringing awareness to this National issue.
Selection #5: The Elephant Man by Bernard Pomerance
The Elephant Man is such a fascinating and beautifully tragic (my favorite oxy-moron) story of human behavior. I have always had a strange interest in vintage travelling sideshows, and more specifically on the people who made a career out of being a part of this “Freak Show”, who give up their basic humanity to survive in a world ignorant to their deformities. From a theatrical view, although the characters of John Merrick and Frederick Treves are the central characters, the play’s ensemble characters are rich and well fleshed out. One can imagine this script making an impact with minimal, or fully-realized production elements. Heart and gut wrenching, this production is much more a look at human dignity than it is human deformity.
Michelle Thorne is a multi- award winning Director, Producer, and Actor currently based in her home community of Wood Buffalo, AB. Recent directing credits include The Fantastic Mr Fox (Theatre; Just Because), The Awesome 80s Prom (Theatre; Just Because in partnership with WayPoints), The Other Side of the Pole (Keyano Theatre Company), Steel Magnolias (Keyano Theatre Company Stage 2 Series), Fanny & Manny Tie The Knot (Theatre; Just Because in partnership with WayPoints), The Most Massive Woman Wins, and Louis and Dave (Theatre; Just Because). Michelle holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dramatic Arts from the University of Lethbridge. She is the co-founder and Artistic Director for Wood Buffalo’s alternative theatre company, Theatre; Just Because. Michelle has also participated in the Regional and Provincial arts community as the Program Manager for Arts Council Wood Buffalo, Regional Representative for the Alberta Dramatic Festival Association, Front of House Manager for Keyano Theatre, as well as an Artist Educator for Learning through the Arts and the Keyano DramaForce program. Michelle currently sits as a board member for Theatre Alberta, a non-profit society and registered Canadian charity dedicated to the growth and development of the Alberta theatre community. Michelle is excited to begin studies this fall at The University of British Columbia as a student in their prestigious MFA Directing program.
~Jasmine Nacu, Library Assistant