Friday, September 02, 2011

tuesdays with morrie | artistic director's notes - ken hildebrandt

Part two of the artistic director's notes for TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE: Gallery 7 Theatre's Ken Hildebrandt.

What a thrill it is to introduce our little theatre from Abbotsford to Vancouver audiences! I sometimes find myself smiling at the delightful absurdity of this opportunity to share this story here in the City. I mean, what good could come from Abbotsford, a town known for raspberries, blueberries, dairy farms and airshows, but not necessarily for a thriving arts and cultural scene? Yet, enormous talent oozes from this diamond-in-the-rough, city-in-the-country and this production showcases just a sample of some of the high calibre work being produced in the Fraser Valley as emerging and veteran artists of all disciplines find their voice through the arts. Thank you Ron for inviting us to be a part of your season here at Pacific Theatre!

Though I hadn’t read Mitch Albom’s book at the time, when I first read the play version of Tuesdays with Morrie a couple of years ago, I found it to be quite moving. The story was uplifting, humorous, sad and tragic all at the same time. After that first read, I knew this play needed to be produced on the Gallery 7 stage, and though it took a couple of years for that dream to become a reality, our recent 20th anniversary season presented the perfect opportunity.

As I’ve worked on this show over the past year, I’ve also come to realize that this story is refreshingly void of the cynicism that seems to permeate our culture today. It avoids quaint sentimentality and delves deep in to heart and soul matters in a honest and sometimes uncomfortable way. Ironically, though this play deals with death and sickness, it’s really about living life to the fullest.

What stands out most, however, is the depth and intimacy of the relationship between these two men. In our culture, relationships between men don’t often scratch below the surface. Yet I believe deep within each man’s soul, there longs for connection with other men who inspire, encourage and walk-alongside us, to help us make sense of what it means to be a man intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. It’s definitely true of my life. Albom’s story celebrates the importance of healthy, intimate & meaningful relationships, which is a very good thing indeed.

This production ran with great success in Abbotsford this past Winter, and I was delighted and humbled by how this production connected with men and women in very deep and emotional ways. That experience proved once again that theatre has this amazing ability to probe even the deepest areas of our heart, soul and mind in a manner that enlightens, challenges, and entertains. There’s nothing quite like live theatre. I trust you will have a similar experience as you enjoy today’s performance! Be moved. Be engaged. Be encouraged. Be inspired.

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