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Giving Stories Life

Volume 23 Number 4 July 2012

he premise of The Drawer Boy is drawn from a historic chapter in Canadian theatre. In 1972, a group of young, Toronto based actors headed into Southwest Ontario in order to interview local farmers and their families and create what became The Farm Show. They lived with the farmers, worked with them, watched them and learned their stories. Then the actors created a play, through improvisation and based on their interviews. The daily work on the play, within the walls of a barn, was simple and pure. The artists had no idea that locals would be charmed by hearing their own language and watching their own stories. As a result, Theatre Passe Muraille (theatre "goes through walls) became one of the most revolutionary and significant theatres in Canadian history. According to Wikipedia, Theatre Passe Murailles radical intention was to create a distinctly Canadian voice in theatre. It was conceived in the notion that theatre should transcend real estate; that plays can be made and staged anywherein barns, in auction rings, in churches, bars, basements, lofts, even in streetcars; and it was interested in the idea that theatre need not be a vehicle of social change, but rather it should endeavor always to be a mirror to social change. Theatre Passe Muraille used an improvisational method they called collectivecreation, where the plays were made by the actors themselves, developed out of their own experiences. The collective-creation idea was inspired obviously by the Living Theatre, said Paul Thompson (former Artistic director), but more closely by a company called Theatre dAujordhui. They were a group of actors who had come out of the French section of the National Theatre School and were doing some very good improvisationally written shows and that sort of got me excited...As far as going into a locale, the idea came from stuff I had been reading about China, continued Paul Thompson, They went into areas and made stories about local heroes, they were traveling companies. In 1995, Toronto based actor Michael Healey was working at the Blyth Festival in central Ontario, and met with many local farmers who had influenced The Farm Show. He was struck by the impact that the Theatre Passe Muraille actors had had on the community. Healy told American Theatre, The Blythe Festival is in the middle of farm country, and I'd never spent time in a rural setting prior to
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The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey

n 2002, Charles Isherwoods New York Times review beautifully described the plot of The Drawer Boy. A restrained Canadian drama...about the complex ties that bind a pair of World War II veterans...The play is set in 1972 on a farm in Ontario, where the hard but placid workaday life of Morgan and Angus is interrupted one morning when an unusual visitor comes to call. An eager-eyed young actor, Miles, is researching a theatre piece about farming to be put on by his Toronto based theatre collective, and he wants to observe Morgan and Angus on their daily routines. In his review, Isherwood captured the essence of the story, As Miles begins poking around the dusty corners of these plain-spoken old fellows hearts and minds, he learns that Morgan and Angus have lived together on the farm ever since they returned from their youthful stints as enlisted men. Angus still bears the mental scars of a brain injury he suffered during the bombing in London. His memory is

July 13-29, 2012

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all but wiped out, and while he can still make sandwiches (and do sums spectacularly), he cant remember , for example, who Miles is, so the young man must reintroduce himself every time they meet...his buried memories are jarred, somewhat arbitrarily, by Miles decision to use the story of Morgan and Angus history together in his play...Mr. Healys dialogue, natural and unadorned...The Drawer Boy is affecting precisely because it refuses to squeeze all the sentimental possibilities from the bittersweet history it describes. One of the reasons that BTE was so attracted to The Drawer Boy, was specifically because the play illustrates so clearly the transformational nature of theatre and the significance of giving stories life! Stories come out of our authentic human experiences. Stories bring us to the core of experience, as any good storyteller or theatre-lover knows. But, there are several psychological reasons why stories are so powerful, as Pamela Rutledge, Ph.D. writes in Psychology Today in her article entitled The Psychological Power of Storytelling, Stories have always been a primal form of communi(Continued on page 3)

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that four-month gig. So part of the play was inspired by my asking the locals stupid questions, like, What is the difference between hay and straw? Healey based his play on The Farm Show and its history. It tells the story of a young actor from the city who goes into a rural farmhouse to research two elderly farmers for a new play. The play is about interpreting our lives through storytelling and its effect on our experience. In honor of The Farm Show, the first production of The Drawer Boy was directed by one of the 1970s actors who had inspired its work, he is also one of the characters in the play, Miles Potter. Since its premiere in 1999 at Torontos Theatre Passe Muraille, The Drawer Boy has won countless awards, including Canadas Governor Generals Literary Award and The Helen Hayes Award. It continues to delight audiences across Canada, the United States, and around the world. In 2001, The Drawer Boy made Time Magazines top ten list as a new classic. The Drawer Boy, Healeys first full-length play, won the Dora Award for best new play, a Chalmers Canadian Playwriting Award, and the Governor Generals Literary Award. It has been produced across North America and internationally, and has been translated into German, French, Hindi, Portuguese and Japanese. The Drawer Boy was the most-produced play at Theatre Communications Group theatres in 2003-04. When American Theatre asked Healey to what he attributed his plays popularity, he answered its a comedy, non-preachy, and it's about why theatre is of tangible use in people's lives. I think it's a wellconstructed two-act comedy that has something deeper for those who choose to go that way. But really, I'm at a loss to explain it.

Michael Healey

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Connie & Amelias Corner

ere very early in rehearsal of Michael Healeys The Drawer Boy, a script weve talked about producing for some time. In thinking about this script, I was again reminded about how, as human beings, we sometimes create truths to deal with challenges for ourselves or those we love, or to make sense of what seems nonsensical. And I was struck by the power and sacrifice of true, deep friendship, in this story. I was recently sitting in the audience of another theatre, watching a good production of a classic script, and, at intermission, whipped out my cell phone and texted two long-time, long distance friends, telling them about the production and wishing they were seeing it with me. By the end of the show (less than an hour later), both had texted me back, warmly wishing me the same.
& Associate Artistic Director, Amelia Barrett In our production, with Ensemble member Kurt Naebig directing and with Ensemble member Robert Bailey playing Angus, we have a lovely cast to welcome you into this piece. Jonathan Kraft and Jacob Abbas, playing Morgan and Miles respectively, are both new to Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, and were very happy to have them with us. Artistic Director, Connie Canaday Howard

We believe The Drawer Boy is a charming and simple piece about ordinary people, finding their paths in lives, and how we are affected by those we meet on lifes journey. We look forward to sharing the production with you soon! In addition, were also looking forward to our next season, celebrating our 26th anniversary with you! As you know, we recently learned that, because of MAC renovations, weve been limited to a three-show season in our interim space next year, and have carefully debated and finalized a season that showcases our mission, our strengths and the adventure were on, as we move toward a newly renovated Arts Center. Please make plans to join us for The Lady With All The Answers, The Underpants and Trumbo: Red, White and Blacklisted. Were certain youll enjoy yourself! And were announcing next seasons subscriber nights in this issue of SuBTExt. All of these dates are Tuesdays, and well commence at 7:30P again, to allow those of you coming home from work time to join us in our interim space in K Building. For our first show, The Lady With All The Answers Tuesday, August 28: Well discuss the demands of acting and directing a one-person show; The Underpants Tuesday, January 8: Well show you a blocking rehearsal for large scenes and how we create focus; and finally, for Trumbo: Red, White and Blacklisted Tuesday, April 23: Well discuss the dramaturgy of the piece and contextualize it within the history of the Hollywood Ten and Trumbo. Hopefully, these nights will offer you an intimate way to share with ensemble members an experience you might not otherwise have had. Its truly a scorcher outside today! Were hoping youre enjoying the coming of summer, both enjoying the heat and finding ways to stay cool! We look forward to seeing you, soon, at the theatre! All our best to you!

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cation. They are timeless links to ancient traditions, legends, archetypes, myths, and symbols. They connect us to a larger self and universal truths. And, stories are about collaboration and connection. They transcend generations, they engage us through emotions, and they connect us to others. Through stories we share passions, sadness, hardships and joys. We share meaning and purpose. Stories are the common ground that allows people to communicate, overcoming our defenses and our differences. Stories allow us to understand ourselves better and to find our commonality with others. Stories are how we think. They are how we make meaning of life. Call them schemas, scripts, cognitive maps, mental models, metaphors, or narratives. Stories are how we explain how things work, how we make decisions, how we justify our decisions, how we persuade others, how we understand our

place in the world, create our identities, and define and teach social values. Stories provide order. Humans seek certainty and narrative structure is familiar, predictable, and comforting. Within the context of the story arc we can withstand intense emotions because we know that resolution follows the conflict. We can experience with a safety net. Stories are how we are wired. Stores take place in the imagination. To the human brain, imagined experiences are processed the same as real experiences. Stories create genuine emotions, presence (the sense of being somewhere), and behavioral responses. Stories are the pathway to engaging our right brain and triggering our imagination. By engaging our imagination, we become participants in the narrative. We can step out of our own shoes, see differently, and increase our empathy for others. Through imagination, we tap into creativity that is the foundation of innovation, self-discovery and change.

The Company Artistic Director Connie Canaday Howard Associate Artistic Director Amelia Barrett Designers Jon Gantt Allison R. Amadei Michael W. Moon Barbara Niederer Galen Ramsey Ensemble Carla Achziger (in memory) Robert Jordan Bailey Amelia Barrett Bryan Burke Connie Canaday Howard Loretta Hauser Kurt Naebig Michael Sassone William (Sandy) Smillie

Rochdale College the center of radical left-wing activity on the campus of the University of Toronto in the 60s The Drawer Boy An- Freshie the Canadian and 70s. The company gus name for Morgan equivalent of kool-aid. that developed The Farm because he liked to draw Show was based at pictures. Mow a stack of hay or Rochdale College before other feed stored in a they got their own buildDonnellys Canadas barn; also the place in a ing and became the most notorious family, barn where hay, grain or Theatre Passe Muraille. five members of whom other feed is stored. were brutally massacred Shinney ice, street or in 1880 by a vigilante Low the characteristic field hockey played inforcommittee near London, sound made by cattle. mally with a ball, can or Ontario. similar object.

Ensilage the process of preserving fodder (such as cornstalks, rye, oats, millet, etc.) by compressing it while green and fresh in a pit or vat called a silo, where it is kept covered from the air.

Princes Patricians (Pats) the World War II military unit from south central Ontario.

The Drawer Boy by Michael Healey

July 13-29, 2012

SuBTExt McAninch Arts Center at College of DuPage 425 Fawell Blvd. Glen Ellyn, IL 60137-6599 Phone: 630-942-3008 Fax: 630-790-9806 Email:
SuBTExt edited by Amelia Barrett, design by Carla Achziger Founding Artistic Director Emeritus, Craig Berger

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