Tuesday, January 31, 2012

danny and the deep blue sea | artistic director notes

Ron's Artistic Director notes on DANNY AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA - closing this Saturday!

Summer before last, PT friend Jason Goode rented our theatre to produce Danny And The Deep Blue Sea. Jason’s taken acting classes here, acted in apprentice projects, and has involved lots of artists in the Pacific Theatre community in the making of his films.

I was bowled over. The calibre of acting was exhilarating. Lori is a seasoned veteran, Aleks a film and TV actor new to the stage: both turned in vital, raw, entertaining performances that were obviously suited to our mainstage.

And the script came alive for me in a new way. It’s a well-known play by a master playwright, often enough performed. But with this kind of heart and fierce freshness, it became new again.

Dark. Very dark. Those broken, desperate, end-of-the-rope lives. But, in true Shanley fashion, I started to sense hope. And I guess I’m just that kind of guy, but.... Give me cheery hopeful happiness from start to finish, I might enjoy my two hours in the theatre okay, but I’m not going to be moved, shaken, changed: I won’t get that thing I go to the theatre for. (Well, I’m exaggerating: I’ll take Tally’s Folly or You Can’t Take It With You or The Foreigner any day.) But give me some faint flickering of light in a hopelessly dark place, you’ve got me. Provided the dark is real, and the light equally so. For me, that’s Danny.

That’s enough to put the play in a PT season: fine acting, intriguing script, light in the darkness. But what put it in this PT season was the potential match-ups. At the time I saw Danny I was preoccupied with Doubt, wanting to live in the middle of that story, learn those characters, and – especially – to see Erla Faye Forsyth as Sister Aloysius. And I was dreaming of having a musical version of Joe Versus The Volcano on our stage. Three plays wildly different from one another: it’s almost inconceivable that all three came from the same playwright. And yet...

And as I watched Danny, I saw Joe and Doubt at the same time. Images recurred, preoccupations asserted themselves, a certain spirit shone through. And as the three plays rattled around in me, I pictured them on our stage, back to back.

The Joe dream didn’t come true. Not yet. But for now we offer you two plays by John Patrick Shanley. Compare and contrast. 25 marks.

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