• Audio based drama
  • Author Reading
  • Cabaret
  • Collective Creation
  • Drama
  • Experimental
  • Film
  • Graphic Design
  • Movement Based Theatre
  • Multimedia
  • Musical
  • Musical Theatre
  • New Play
  • Non-Fiction
  • One Person Show
  • Play
  • Play reading
  • Play Writing
  • Poetry
  • Publishing
  • Storytelling
  • World Music

I have been creating theatre all my life. Since the early 90s, I have been collaborating with Judith Sandiford. Together we have created three theatres, several theatre companies, and dozens of plays.

I am a playwright (as in wheelwright or shipwright). A maker of plays. I am also a director. I don't really distinguish between the two roles.  Sometimes I write scripts, sometimes I adapt existing materials, sometimes I work with a company of actors and musicians to achieve a collective result. Sometimes I take a script that someone else has written and and search for a way to bring it alive. We do this together: actors, designers, musicians, dancers, writers. Every production is specific to its circumstances: the space, the performers, the technical setup, the location, the season, and what's going on in the world outside.

Theatre is a live art form. Each performance is unique. Every night, or afternoon, people arrive – the audience – wanting to be taken on an emotional and intellectual journey by people – the performers – who care enough to be honest and truthful. This relationship, when it happens, is powerful, magical, sacred. A great responsibility. Not easy.

I believe, with Aristotle, that a work of theatre comprises three elements: melos (music and sound), opsis (visual spectacle) and lexis (the words of the story). These three must be in balance. A piece of theatre should delight the ear, the eye, and the mind. My plays usually include music. I prefer visual design that creates an impression of lightness and insubstantiality, using minimal means to produce magical effects. I often use projections rather than constructed sets. I like a script that is eloquent and witty, and full of surprises.

The basic premise of our approach is that the company, collectively, is telling a story in real time to an audience that is present. There is no fourth wall. And because we are telling a story together, there is no need for realism or casting to type. Our work embodies diversity in casting, and in the stories we tell.

My approach is based on ensemble techniques, in the tradition of Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop and George Luscombe's Toronto Workshop Productions. This ensemble approach requires that we develop shared techniques of communication as a company. Every performance is a process of discovery, like jazz.

Theatre should have something meaningful to say about the world we live in. A play is a microcosm of a real world that is too vast and too complex to be grasped. People go to the theatre to see a model of reality, where the shape of events can be perceived, and the consequences of choices revealed. A play should make us laugh and cry, but also think and understand. It is our responsibility as theatre artists to examine the world around us and bring it to life on the stage.

Judith and I have always wanted control over more than just the play. We want to shape the entire experience, creating theatre spaces that would make audiences and artists feel honoured and cherished. In Toronto, we created two incarnations of Artword Theatre, the first a 60-seat theatre up a flight of stairs, the second with two theatre spaces, 150 seats and 60 seats, plus a huge art gallery.

In Hamilton, we soon learned how important music is to the city, and created Artword Artbar, a haven for theatre and music in an informal setting. After ten fruitful years, we decided that it was time to explore new venues and new techniques. Artword Artbar is gone, but Artword Theatre continues.

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