Thursday, October 6, 2016

Dream Transcript: Rowing in the Mornings with Canadian Playwrights, on a Bayou of Thunder Bay.

Oct 03, 2016 6:04 AM

A playhouse requested a set of five plays, character driven, sent in advance to a lovingly restored playhouse north of the Keweenaw. Keweenaw Peninsula is rather far north and yet, plenty of north awaits above the cities of Hancock, Calumet and Copper Harbor. Canadian Highway 11 passes above the Keweenaw, following roughly the northern contour of Lake Superior. I studied a wall map of the north, and put a pin into Thunder Bay. I was sent Indian Trails bus tickets as far north as Sault Ste Marie and Canadian bus tickets for the section Soo to Thunder Bay. Put up in a nice business hotel, I reported to the playhouse with impeccably clean seats and maple paneling through out. If a member of the Royal family were to visit, the playhouse stood ready. So many more Royals to go afield in Canada these days, and I think the adults like the hospitality of their commonwealth cousins. Royal visits have increased to once a year from once an epic World War. And yet, for some odd reason, the society that ran this very Canadian playhouse had asked a rank amateur playwright to be a guest. They gave me tea to drink as the committee deliberated. I took a nap in a comfy seat in the right rear, couldn't be helped. I love waking up in playhouses because the subconscious does so well in playhouses. Playhouses are a Leyden jar for the subconscious. The committee giggled as I bestirred myself and I was invited to a table on the stage set with water and as a backdrop, illustrations of the five plays. As if the house were about to issue show posters in the style of the Stratford and Shaw Festivals. I was impressed. And yet, the five men and five women chided me for hours, playfully and yet I winced repeatedly. In such situations, the wright might only wince and show gratitude, unless he is to prove a boor.

I thought to excuse myself and hardly dared. One man said quite dryly, "Your choice of Zinfandel in the third play hardly pairs well with the recipe for onion tart. Hardly a total loss and yet rewriting is demanded". After five hours of this, the director proposed, "We expect you are in little hurry to go home"? We propose a fortnight of revisions before we announce our evening. I assume your room at the Delta is adequate, writing desk a nice antique? Dinner and lunch at homes of the committee. "Shall we dine on onion tart for lunch once or twice for a laugh"? Why just say yes when one can collapse all the boffins into laughter? Good then, meet Earl and Ernestine at the boat house. Your writing coaches like to scull about mornings. Oh, we're filming this for CBC, jolly good, right? "Right as rain", I said.

The rowing was brutal. The criticism was precise. And the mornings were golden.
 — at Heritage Landing.

Photograph of the Royal George Theater, Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario

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