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A Bright Particular Star


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"A Bright Particular Star" opened May 5, and I'm so proud of the darn thing! I've directed plays that I've adapted before, but this is the first time I've directed one of my original scripts, and it was deeply gratifying.

And what a cast! So many strong performances, and I truly cannot imagine any actress anywhere surpassing Rebecca deBoer in the lead role: simply stunning. Inventive set, gorgeous costumes. So fulfilling.

It's the story of George MacDonald's daughther Lilia, who was an actress. Fun cameos from Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll, Kate Terry, Octavia Hill, and various members of the MacDonald clan. Love story interwoven with coming of age story, ultimately about calling and sacrifice.

I count it as one of my top five theatre experiences, alongside SHADOWLANDS, DAMIEN and COTTON PATCH GOSPEL. (I know, that's only four: I have to give serious thought before I could decide which would be number five. But those are the shoe ins!).

If anybody can get to Vancouver on or before June 3, I'll comp ya!

Ron

www.pacifictheatre.org

P.S. And with this opening, my four months of datebook meltdown come to an end, and I can return to working on my movie book. Life's good!

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Congrats Ron!!

I'm thrilled to hear about your experience here. I'd like to read the script. Would it work for high schoolers?

My play's adaptation (Welcome to Justice) was okay. I was quite please with the audience turnout and of the four shows I'd give them the following grades: B-, B, B+, C+ in that order.

The first couple performances were pretty thrilling. The audience was really with the story (which is a bit more complex than most shows we've done). And the video/live action thing was SEAMLESS! Audiences raved about that. The last show my lead actor was somewhere else entirely especially for the second act. Not sure what happened there, butchered lines, horrible internal pacing, and just stone faced. He's usually quite reliable. I didn't complain much because it was the last show. But it bugged me a lot especially since it was the night most of my family got to see it and the one night we video taped.

Anyway, I appreciate your recommendation to produce it. I think it was valuable to see it.

Congrats also on a break in the clouds of your schedule, I'm in the same place. I might even get to do some more writing this summer.

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I'm thrilled to hear about your experience here. I'd like to read the script. Would it work for high schoolers?

I'll gladly send you a copy. Need to take the rehearsal draft and tidy it up to reflect the production. Probably do that this week.

High schoolers? I don't know, it might. Certainly no objectionable content, and they might really connect with the coming of age themes. I'd also say, though, that I drove my actors for a really brisk pace, otherwise it would run long. Don't know if high schoolers could pull that off. Though there is one of the sub-plots that could be cut to streamline things, probably making it a good playable length. Let me know what you think.

My play's adaptation (Welcome to Justice) was okay.

What do you mean, "adaptation"?

The first couple performances were pretty thrilling. The audience was really with the story (which is a bit more complex than most shows we've done). And the video/live action thing was SEAMLESS! Audiences raved about that.

Well, congratulations back at you! Amazing experience, isn't it? Seeing actors bring your story to life, and having an audience receive it? Wow.

Anyway, I appreciate your recommendation to produce it. I think it was valuable to see it.

I'm so glad.

I might even get to do some more writing this summer.

Glad again! Thoughts of what you might tackle next?

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Adaptation - um... I meant production. I was tired.

What's next? Not sure... I've got a couple ideas on the cooker. I just had a half dream last night about a children's play about a mythical land where there's an evil curse that only allows people to be chipper and happy. And the hero is a bit of a melancholic who fights for the freedom to have real feelings.

I'm teaching a creative writing course this summer, and that always helps get me kick started.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Congratulations, Ron! If I had known, I would have been in the audience last weekend. Next time I come to VC, I'll definitely check your website in my planning.

You were here and you didn't look me up! For shame, Mr Thomas!! How I would have loved to meet you in person. (And free tix for the best show in town - you woulda liked....)

I'm going again tomorrow night. I'm not sure I've ever gone back to a show I've directed after opening night: this'll be my third time seeing this one once it's opened, and I've got tickets booked for next week as well. What a strange experience, having written something that turns around and entertains me, even teaches me things, shows me God. Very strange indeed.

You know, the last play of mine that we staged was a disaster. MERCY WILD. It was ambitious, the process was amazing, we reached for some sublime stuff, and it definitely had its moments, but mostly in the final analysis it sucked. And the one I wrote before (YOU STILL CAN'T) got four different productions, all of which I saw, but it just never jelled, never became what it could be, was bloated and self-indulgent, even after like seven drafts or something. So I pretty much lost my desire to write plays: it's so darn much work, and so easy for them to drift over to the wrong side of the foul line, I really wondered if they were worth the trouble, or if I was just plain not good enough at it to merit the effort. Took me six years to pull STAR out of the drawer and give the whole thing another try.

So it feels pretty great to have something on stage I'm actually proud of. I'm quite sure it's not perfect. I know it's not cutting edge or world-shaking, that there are lots of people for whom it will hold no appeal. But what I do know is, I love it. It's the play I wanted to write. And this cast, and this production, do it proud.

So I think I'll go see it a couple more times. For the healing, if nothing else.

*

Oh, and what the heck, since I've already embarassed myself by celebrating my own play, I just feel too darn coy not sharing my other (related) news.

A bit of context, first. I should let you know that, after several years of all the local critics routinely reviewing pretty much every play we produce, none of the major media outlets are covering A BRIGHT PARTICULAR STAR. I've grieved that a bit: it's stirred up feelings from the company's first ten years, when we really were shunned by the professional theatre community. A grand total of one review in any of the city's dailies or the entertainment weekly, in an entire decade. Having my current play similarly (and inexplicably) ignored by virtually all the media has been a bit of a bitter pill, and I've had to fight to avoid the old feelings that my company is a complete outsider.

Well, today, this year's Jessie Richardson Award nominations were announced, kind of Vancouver's version of the Tony awards, chosen by a jury of theatre professionals from the city. And shows from our past season garnered an unprecedented twenty nominations. Four of those nods were for a (lovely) production of THE ELEPHANT MAN we can't really take credit for: we didn't produce it, but only presented (though we did some match-making to get it rolling, and take an avuncular pride). But the rest all have our name on 'em; six noms for last year's SHADOWLANDS, four for THE FARNDALE CHRISTMAS CAROL, and six for PRODIGAL SON which we co-produced with Touchstone Theatre. In addition, one other award was actually presented today, and that was a playwriting award for company member Lucia Frangione to support her work on a new play she's writing for our company, called LEAVE OF ABSENCE. (BRIGHT PARTICULAR STAR isn't eligible until next year's Jessies, by the way). Twenty nominations for stuff we presented, plus an award for one we've only just started on.

So. The satisfaction of staging a show we love and believe in. Which is ignored by the critics. Which reminds us who we don't do it for, and Who we do.

And then the reminder that there are other people paying attention. Who needs critics when you've got fans? (And who needs fans when you've got a Fan?)

Edited by Ron

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Ron,

The play sounds awesome! Congrats.

Any chance you'll take it on the road -- to Edmonton, for example?? And is there anything that could be done to prompt your local critics to sit up and take notice? Publicity is hard work, but sounds like this play deserves more than its getting and might be worth it.

tw

"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"

« Nous connaîtrions-nous seulement un peu nous-mêmes, sans les arts? »

Quoted on Canada's $20 bill; from Gabrielle Roy's novel La montagne secrète. The English translation, The Hidden Mountain, is by Harry L. Binsse.

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I was going to look you up, Ron, but (believe me) it wasn't the right time....

No worries, i totally understand. I believe I've been in Los Angeles twice now since knowing Darrel, fully intending to hook up with him, and not managing to fit it in. Time fills up, doesn't it! Another time...

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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Any chance you'll take it on the road -- to Edmonton, for example??

Nah, live theatre doesn't travel well. Especially with a cast of ten! And drawing an audience in our home town is tough enough. In a strange burg...

And is there anything that could be done to prompt your local critics to sit up and take notice? Publicity is hard work, but sounds like this play deserves more than its getting and might be worth it.

Nah, we've got an almost full-time publicist who's been going hard at this. Sometimes you just take your lumps.

A couple of Vancouver actors kick the question around a bit over at a website dedicated to professional theatre. Anthony's been involved with Pacific Theatre since our earliest days, and works everywhere in town. Donald is very well known in Vancouver theatre, his first connection with PT was playing in the father in THE PRODIGAL SON, a co-production with Touchstone Theatre (he's on their board). He's become quite the advocate for our theatre!

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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  • 4 weeks later...

I haven't said anything for a couple of weeks, due to busy-ness, but let me now say:

A Bright Particular Star is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

In a fit of irresponsibility, Anne and I dropped our work and made a run for the border in order to catch the closing-night show of Ron's play. He was generous to a fault, going out of his way to make sure we were comfortable. And we enjoyed chatting over dinner before the show.

But the show... wow. It's a passionate, insightful, challenging work about the area where art and faith intersects. Rebecca deBoer, the actress in the lead role, was radiant.

If I was the kind of person who has Money, I would immediately donate large bundles of cash to Mr. Reed to enable him to take this cast and this show on the road. This is a play that needs to be experienced both in the public square and in the church theater. Ron has every reason to be very very proud.

Take it from me... the guy who loves The New World. ;)

Edited by Jeffrey Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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