Nicole St. Martin got help from James Reaney in adaptation.
Actor Nicole St. Martin couldn't have realized that reading James Reaney's short story The Box Social in high school would inspire her for many years.
Now the work's been reinvented as a stage production by Preface Theatre, adapted by St. Martin, who worked on it with the late Reaney's approval.
The controversial two-page story follows Sylvia, a troubled southwest Ontario farm girl in the 1940s, who's preparing for her community's box social dance and the chance to reconnect with a former boyfriend.
"I lived with the story for a long time," recalls St. Martin, "and first thought of turning it into a film and then a monologue. But it called for expansion, so I wrote to Reaney about my ideas, which always honoured his work, and he encouraged and supported me."
The adapter added a chorus to the play: a trio of Erinyes (the furies in classical Greek drama) who echo Sylvia and help her toward the final confrontation.
"In Greek myth, everyone is considered to have their own Erinyes, so when an injustice occurs, these figures cry out for justice. In this play, they help give voice to a silenced girl who chooses to free herself from an unhappy past."
St. Martin, who plays one of the Erinyes, acted in the 2005 Preface production of Chekhov's The Bear before going off to study in England and Russia.
"I came back from my time abroad with more skills and new techniques," she says, "as well as an appreciation for exploration, process and physicalizing my work."
As a result, The Box Social incorporates movement as well as text, as Sylvia relives her past and moves into the future. The production also makes use of animation and a set that St. Martin describes as a playground for the performers.
Tory cuts to the arts have hit lots of companies. Now we hear that Volcano's excellent production of Michael Redhill's Goodness can't travel to Rwanda as the Canadian representative at an international arts festival commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.
Volcano's award-winning play has toured to Vancouver, Edinburgh and New York City, and director Ross Manson later helmed a Helsinki production; another staging is set for Barcelona later this year.
How ironic that a play exploring genocide and the question of how good people commit evil acts can't be part of Rwanda's attempts to look at and heal a horrific part of its past.
Volcano's seeking donations of money and Air Miles to help them get to Rwanda next September. The company has a history of success with such requests; an appeal to the public for contributions got the troupe to Edinburgh in 2006.
For more information on donating, contact email@example.com.
Fife plays on
Spotlight!, the seventh annual Fife House benefit, brings together some of the city's best musical ?theatre performers.
You can't do much better than Thom Allison and Paula Wolfson if you're looking for a pair of energetic, audience-pleasing entertainers.
They're joined by jazz vocalist Julie Michaels, pianist Anne Marie Leonard, classical singers Kathryn Domoney and Marion Newman as well as musical theatre performer Dale R. Miller. CBC's Andrew Nichols hosts.
The evening includes complimentary drinks, nibbles and a silent auction.
Money from the fundraiser goes to Fife House, which provides supportive, affordable housing and services for Torontonians living with HIV/AIDS.