Wednesday, December 03, 2014

It's A Wonderful Life | Artistic Director's Notes

It was in the middle of rehearsals for our first Artistic Director's Series show that I first heard about Peter Church, and his love for old time radio.

Kenton Klassen was working with me on The Top Ten Thousand Of All Time when it occurred to him that there was this new guy in town, and he had to see our show, and I had to meet him: he was a 100% Pacific Theatre actor, and he loved everything about radio. They had worked together the previous summer on the Badlands Passion Play. Before that, Peter had worked in Toronto with a company that exclusively staged old radio shows.

Curiously enough, within a day or so I heard from a Toronto friend, out of the blue, that I had to meet Peter Church. Then I mentioned his name in the office, and Cara said "You have to meet him! He worked at the Fringe with me, and he's the greatest!"

They all were right. The connection with Peter was immediate, and it was immediately obvious that he should join Kenton and me in creating and performing the second of the A.D. Series projects, The Old Time Gospel Radio Hour. And soon we had the idea for the third in our series - picking up on the theme of radio storytelling with a Christmas production of It's A Wonderful Life, 1940s radio style.

We've all got our stories about this classic Christmas Tale. A family favourite, a personal tradition. I hadn't even seen the film until I was an adult, going through really tough times trying to keep Pacific Theatre alive, deeply weary from too much fundraising, too many meetings and budgets and not enough anything. Certainly, at that point, not enough acting or writing or directing: it was really hard to see the point of it all, when the work was costing me so much, but my dreams - indeed, my intention - of doing what I love had been replaced with the realities of doing what had to be done, so that others could do what they love.

Then I encountered It's A Wonderful Life for the first time. I wept. I looked straight into a picture of the toughest part of my life, saw sacrifice through the eyes of the Depression-surviving, end-of-World-War-Two generation, and saw… Not sentiment, but a tough-minded acknowledgment that life isn't always what we wish it would be. That we don't always get what we want. Life can be hard, disappointing, exhausting, unfair. And yet…

It's A Wonderful Life.  I hope you're enjoying it as much as we are!

Ron Reed,
Artistic Director

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