Ken is back producing a performance on the stage of big dreams
Six hours after I email this column to Danny Macdonald, and long before you read it in What’s Up Yukon, these words by Cole Porter from the 1948 Broadway smash, Kiss Me, Kate, will be part of my remembered experience:
The overture is about to start,
You cross your fingers and hold your heart,
It’s curtain time and away we go,
Another opening, another show!
Tonight, my newest play, Bernie & Nick, hits the boards, as we say in the biz.
OK, OK, it’s a little bit off-Broadway. In fact, it’s so far off Broadway that even a GPS couldn’t tell you how to get to the Great White Way, where so many theatrical dreams go to be born. But to me, as both playwright and director, it’s a damned big deal.
There are plenty of people in the Yukon who know exactly what I mean. Many wonderful people in Whitehorse, Dawson City, Watson Lake and elsewhere have written and/or directed plays and musicals over the years. Many, many more have acted/sung/danced in those shows, painted sets, stitched costumes, hung lights, sold tickets, or just showed up to cheer on fellow community members infected by the deadly virus known as theatre.
Four weeks, you rehearse and rehearse,
Three weeks, can it ever be worse?
One week, will it ever be right?
Then out of the hat, it’s that big first night!
For you, as an audience member (God love ya if you are), it may represent an hour or two of your time. For those more directly involved, it represents hundreds of hours of work. No paycheque, no other rewards or benefits beyond your smiles, your laughter, your applause and your thanks, all of which are pearls beyond price to those who commit themselves to making art.
This is true, not just for theatre people, but for dancers, musicians, visual artists, craftspeople, even the legions of athletes who dedicate their lives to excellence and who sacrifice so much for your enjoyment.
Bernie & Nick ain’t Shakespeare, or Molière, or any other work of high art. It’s just another devilishly funny riff on Christopher Marlowe’s 1592 classic, The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus.
It doesn’t take place on a curling rink, or at a crossroads. Much of it occurs in the crappiest-looking coffin ever built.
Last night, someone who hadn’t attended the public dress rehearsal asked me how it had gone, perhaps hoping to hear me diss the splendid actors who play the title roles.
My response? “The director is very, very, very happy. The playwright is ecstatic.”
It doesn’t get much better than that, in either amateur or professional theatre.