Wrecked Reactions

Following five weeks of performances for Wrecked, here is what some audience members had to say about the production:

L to R: Kimwun Perehinec, Kevin Jake Walker, Jajube Mandiela, Justin Goodhand. Espanola High, Espanola, ON.

“This was an awesome experience…Actors were awesome, content was very appropriate for our school, our students were very engaged”
– Teacher, Espanola High, Espanola, ON

“I watched the first performance of Wrecked this morning. I just wanted to let you know how impressed I was with the performance. The cast are totally ‘awesome.’ I was so amazed at how well they performed and they got the message across to our entire student body. Best performance I have seen in years. Please pass on my thanks to the actors. Keep up the great work.”
– Heinrich Bebie, Principal, Holy Trinity HS, Bradford ON

“(The three best things were) Language [age appropriate and realistic based on use of slang], content, ability to build character development and switch scenes.”
– Occasional Teacher, Central Technical School, Toronto, ON

“Fabulous! Amazing production and very relevant.”
– Phys-Ed Head, Middlefield CI, Markham, ON

“Let me open with, WOW: what a fantastic show! Wrecked is a very strong script that’s highly relevant to our secondary students, and it’s directed and performed with high energy and a creative vision. The design was spectacular – I particularly loved the use of the “doors”. Your actors are incredibly talented and engaging, and your SM was organized, professional and friendly with me and the kids. After the show, the actors were kind enough to stay and sign autographs for our students, who were floored by their talent and commitment. Our students don’t often get the opportunity to see professional theatre, and this was a really life-changing experience for them.
Bringing Wrecked in was a FANTASTIC experience. The students loved the show, and so did the supervising teachers! Finally, relevant teen theatre that isn’t preachy and cheesy! I just can’t communicate how happy I am with the performance today, and the entire Roseneath experience. You folks have been so easy to work with from day one, and I would happily bring you in again!”
– Allyson Bradley, Dramatic Arts Teacher, Rick Hansen SS, Mississauga, ON

“(The three best things were) Students and teacher loved the relate-able / realistic scenes, organized, well rehearsed, well performed [strong actors], connected with teens – teen language.”
– French Teacher, Middlefield CI, Markham, ON

“Just saw a pretty awesome performance from @RoseneathThtr called “Wrecked” – pretty sure our students saw themselves in the characters.”
– Tweet, @lauradorphin

“My students are still talking about it! Wrecked really had an impact on them, due in no small part to your fantastic actors, design and staging…They (students) were engaged in the performance, and they still bring up points from the play when we have discussions about issues in class.”
– Head of Drama, Middlefield CI, Markham, ON

Wrecked 2012 on tour in the GTA. Jajube Mandiela, Kimwun Perehinec, Justin Goodhand.

“It (Wrecked) allowed for discussion about making good choices and helping others to make good choices. They (students) also discussed how they can show empathy for others.”
– Grade 8 Teacher, John McCrae PS, Toronto, ON

“Hey you guys were just at Espanola High, just thought I would tell you guys did an amazing job and hope you guys come back soon :)”
– Facebook Post, Student, Espanola High, Espanola ON

“The theatre group was at our school on the 27th and all the staff and students want to say how much we enjoyed the presentation! The group was so well-organized, professional, and VERY talented. The message they presented was just right for our age group for grade 7/8 and timed perfectly with our Health unit. We will spread the word that Wrecked is the best performance-based presentation we have ever experienced!”
– Grade 7/8 Teacher, St. Kateri Elementary School, Kitchener, ON

“Thank you so much! I need to let you know that my staff and I were very pleased with the production. It was superb! The cast was excellent! In the words of some of my grade 8 students, ‘Ms…the play was awesome!’
Thanks again!”
– Principal, Beverley Heights MS, Toronto, ON

Wrecked closes it’s 2012 run on Friday. To book In This World or Dib & Dob and the Journey Home click here.

Richard Greenblatt on Directing Wrecked

For this week’s post we decided to ask the Director of Wrecked, Richard Greenblatt, to share his thoughts about coming back to direct Wrecked in our 29th season. Here’s what he had to say:

Richard Greenblatt is the Director for the 2012 Production of Wrecked.

Wrecked was a successful show before Roseneath produced it. It had been done in Alberta to great acclaim. And yet, when David Craig, then Artistic Director of Roseneath, asked me to work on it, we both agreed to ask Chris Craddock if he would be willing to revisit the text and make it even stronger. Amazingly, he agreed, and we held several workshops in Toronto, where I found a fabulous new artistic collaborator in Chris. He is supremely unprecious about his words. He is constantly looking to improve his plays, which I believe is the true benchmark of a great writer.

The first production in 2006 was one of those near perfect experiences that are all too rare (I guess that’s what makes them special). I had always had this image in my head of four “towers”, or home bases, created with a sense of post-industrial metal, which could house each actor’s props, costume pieces, and have fold-out structural components that could quickly transform the space to different locations in simple, iconic ways.

Joanne Dente took this germ of an image and created an amazing environment – that could be put together and taken apart quickly, and transported in a small touring vehicle. Four stools were the only furniture. Props were minimal and symbolic. Costume changes had to be fast, easy and effective. Rick Sacks, my frequent musical collaborator, created his usual hard-hitting percussive score that literally drove the action forward. And the actors had the joy of creating both three dimensional, “naturalistic” people in the story of Lyle and his family, as well as the fun, metaphoric characters in the more theatrical teen scenes, who act as almost a Greek chorus possessed with an amazing lack of awareness.

The show received awards and accolades, which is all very gratifying, but not the thing of which I was most proud. Including the remount in ’08, it was the feedback that we received from the students who saw the show that warmed my soul. Their overwhelming reaction was how much they appreciated the play’s lack of condescension. They had assumed when they were told they were going to watch a show about alcoholism, that they were in for a lesson (shudder!) on the dangers of the demon drink. What they said they got was a funny, moving and engaging piece which made them think. No higher praise is possible for a theatre artist.

It’s been 4 years since I last worked on this fabulous script. As with all my pieces for Roseneath, I have trouble letting anyone else direct a remount of a show I originated. For instance, I’ve directed Danny, King of the Basement 13 or 14 times now (I’ve lost count). These shows are too important to me to let others caretake my production, and possibly miss what I think are their most important aspects. Or maybe I’m just a control freak.

In a show like Wrecked, it’s too easy to let the comedy and theatricality of the teen scenes overtake the emotional impact of the story. On the other hand, you need the comic and theatrical relief the teen scenes provide. If you take the story too seriously, and wallow in its emotional waters, the audience will stop caring. Take yourself too seriously, and the audience will feel like all the feeling is being done for them by the actors. There’s no room for them to feel. It’s a delicate balance.

Wrecked 2012. L to R: Kimwun Perehinec, Jajube Mandiela, Kevin Jake Walker. Photo by Mark Seow.

The show needs an edge, fueled, I think, by Lyle’s anger at his situation. This guy doesn’t possess an ounce of self-pity. He’s an extraordinarily responsible 16 year old who’s being robbed of his adolescence by his mother’s dependency. He simply gets on with his strategies for protecting his little sister and himself despite all the obstacles in his way. But his strength has a corresponding cost, which I believe is his rage, as well as his insistence that he doesn’t need any help from anyone. It’s a complex syndrome, and his gradual realization that there are people who are willing to help him, and his acceptance of that help, is central to the play’s emotional impact.

Coming back to a show with a (mostly) new group of actors is also a delicate balance. You want to refresh the piece, and yet not fix what ain’t broke. Change for the sake of change is not interesting. Doing the same things, just because they were done successfully the first time that way, is also boring. The key is to somehow inspire the actors to find their own choices that may or may not be just like the original. There may be new discoveries. Judging which of these choices augment, as opposed to detract from the original production is critical, and where the real skill is in directing a remounted production. The new actors must feel a sense of ownership just as much as the original cast did. No actor likes to hear, “Do it this way. It works. It worked last time and the audience loved it.”

2012 Cast of Wrecked. L to R: Kevin Jake Walker, Jajube Mandiela, Kimwun Perehinec and Justin Goodhand. Photo by Mark Seow.

On the other hand, it’s good to have that first interpretation in reserve, to help the actor if they’re lost and/or confused. Sometimes, there is only one way of doing a section, especially in the context of a specific production style. In the first stage of a frequently way too short rehearsal period, many actors like to have the structure of the original production (the movement, the shape, the ideas behind why things were done the way they were) from which they can later place their own stamp once they know what they’re doing and why.

I’m looking forward to reentering this world. I love the story, the characters, and the devices used to communicate the narrative. I hope those of you who will see it will as well.

If you’d like to know more about Richard Greenblatt, check out the cast and crew page for Wrecked. Wrecked will be touring in Ontario schools from October 29th – December 7th, 2012.