SAMANTHA LILLIAN (Holly Lavigne) is originally from Goderich, Ontario, where her addiction to theatre was born at the age of 12! She started singing before she could speak, and was raised with a love for musicals and fairy tales. Samantha began her studies in the UWindsor BFA Acting program and switched into and graduated from BA(H) DRED program in 2013. She is no stranger to the stage. You may recognize her from Company (Korda Artistic Productions), Beauty and the Beast (Windsor Light Musical Theatre), SDUG with Rob Tymec, The Bolt House (Windsor Feminist Theatre), Peter Pan(TO) (Korda Artistic Productions), Jekyll & Hyde (Cardinal Music Productions), and various princess appearances! She has also recently been appointed as Administrative Assistant for Tall Tale Theatre Co.
CARLA GYEMI (Noelle Lavigne) is thrilled to be closing Post Productions' 2018 season with AFCP, after making her debut with the company as Sister James in Doubt at the start of the year. Past roles include Kathy in Company, Roz in 9 to 5, The Baker's Wife in Into the Woods, Demeter in Cats, Tiger Lily in Peter Pan(to), and Agnes in The Divine Sister.
JULIE WALTON (Yula Lavigne) was last seen as Madam Popova in Korda Artistic Productions’ Chekhov's Shorts. Favourite recent credits include: Stoner Chick in Heathers the Musical, Margaret Pomerance in 9 to 5 the Musical, Coricopat in Cats, and TV Reporter/ Delta Nu in Legally Blonde the Musical – all with Cardinal Music Productions; Angela in Hair: The Tribal Love Rock Musical, Quincy/Marge Simpson in Mr. Burns: A Post Electric Play, Parrot in The Birds, Erotium in The Twins, No Direction in Peter Pan(to), Stormtrooper in Star War(ped): May the Farce Be With You, and Female Chorus in God of Ecstasy – all with Korda Artistic Productions. She has also worked with Theatre Alive, Theatre Intrigue and Riverfront Theatre Company.
ZEPHYR (Sam Klausowitz) has appeared in a number of shows over the last five years. Most recently he appeared onstage as Witch 1 in Macbeth, Scott in Evil Dead: The Musical, and Pentheus in God of Ecstasy – all with Korda Artistic Productions. Zephyr hopes that his performance as Sam can be described as "briskly phlegmatic," though he's not sure what that even means. Please don't explain it to him.
MICHAEL O’REILLY (Chris Nichols; writer/director/producer) is the Artistic Director of Post Productions, where he also writes (The Worst Thing I Ever Did), produces, and directs (Shelter in Place,Stop Kiss, True West, Oleanna). In addition to these duties, he is sometimes bullied onto the stage. He is fond of his roles as Mushnik in Little Shop of Horrors (Cardinal Music Productions) and Owen in The Worst Thing I Ever Did (Post Productions).
JULIA PASTORIUS (Agnes O’Pheasant) is no stranger to stage or film. Her most recent accomplishments include playing young Allison in Fun Home (Korda Artistic Productions), Fly Girl in Boys Vs Girls (Dot Film), and Megan in Angry Angel (Sony Picture Television). Watch for her as the titular character in the upcoming production of Curious George at St Clair College Centre for the Arts.
FAY LYNN (Carol O’Pheasant; writer/director/producer) has been active in the Windsor-Essex theatre scene since 2002, when she played the role of Libby Tucker in I Ought to be in Pictures with Plaid Jacket Productions. Since that time she has played many roles, both on and off the stage, in over 60 productions with various companies in the community. She became Creative Director for Post Productions in 2017. This is her second time co-writing and directing a play with her partners, the Michaels. She was most recently seen on stage as Macbeth in Korda's production of Macbeth. Her next endeavour will be taking on the role of Inez in Post Production's presentation of No Exit in February.
NIKOLAS PRSA (Teensy Tim O’Pheasant) brings festive imbecility to new and disturbing heights as Teensy Tim; this follows performances as Alan Strang in Post's Equus and those in the choruses of several Windsor Light Music Theatre productions. When not playing young English men with undiagnosed traumas, you can find Nik discussing current events and waiving late fees for law students.
MARIA HAUSMANN (Other O’Pheasant) arrived in Windsor via Oklahoma, Florida, and Quebec – a circuitous route for a 12-year-old, which her parents attribute to their own indecision. In just three years she has made her mark in the Windsor-Essex theatre and film community, playing roles such as Jojo in Seussical the Musical and the Genie in Aladdin (both with Windsor Light Musical Theatre’s youth program), as well as two productions with Korda Artistic Productions: Fearless Frieda and Second Banana. She was nominated for, and received, the Best Actress Award at the University of Windsor’s annual Film Festival in 2017.
CINDY PASTORIUS (Marianne Marley). This is Cindy's 3rd show with Post Productions. Previous roles include Mom (True West), Ms. Winsley (Stop Kiss), Witch 2 & Lady MacDuff (Macbeth), the Bank Examiner (It's A Wonderful Life), as well as playing chorus in many productions - most notably, Les Miserables, Aida, and Annie. She has been active both on stage & behind the scenes in community theatre for over 15 years. She is a proud wife, mother, (soon to be grandma) and high school teacher when she is not performing on stage.
MATTHEW FROESE (Brody Brosephine) is going to be a dad soon; therefore this is probably his last show for a while. He's really glad he will be acting with a great group of friends. He was last the Porter and the King in Macbeth at Korda and Peter in Stop Kiss here at the Shadowbox. Mat is pleased to be doing a show with Fay where she doesn't hit him in the face.
MICHAEL K. POTTER (Willie Finch; writer/director/producer) has been acting since the tender age of eleven, and recently began the painful process of learning how not to make an ass of himself onstage. Aside from serving as Managing Director of Post Productions, where he also produces and directs plays (Equus, Stop Kiss, True West), he still finds time to act occasionally – most recently as Reinhart in Shelter in Place, Wesley in The Worst Thing I Ever Did, John in Oleanna, and The Enforcer in season 3 of Space/SyFy's Killjoys. Previous credits in Windsor-Essex include Tiresius in God of Ecstasy (Korda Artistic Productions), Lurch in The Addams Family (Cardinal Music Productions), Gordon and Dwight in Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Korda Artistic Productions), Gil Wiatt in Devil Boys From Beyond (Korda Artistic Productions), Mordcha in Fiddler on the Roof (Cardinal Music Productions) and Sir Edward Ramsey in The King and I (Windsor Light Musical Theatre).
DAVID BURROWS (Biff Davidson) is thrilled to join Post Productions for their first musical and is looking forward to co-producing the New Voices series with Post at The Shadowbox Theatre in 2019. David is a proud member of the local theatre community, having performed in shows with Windsor Light Musical Theatre, Theatre Alive, Theatre Intrigue, Korda Productions, Cardinal Music Productions and many more. Along the way, he has also had the opportunity to direct such shows as Fun Home, Company, and Mary Poppins. Up next: The Cast Party - a musical evening featuring some of Windsor’s best singers at RockStar Music Hall on January 18th. See you there!
ERIC BRANGET (Chip Williams) is an actor born, raised, and trained in Windsor. A graduate of the University of Windsor’s BFA Acting program, he has spent the past three years working in theatre, television, and film communities across Ontario. Eric has appeared in commercials for companies such as Visa, Oxford Notebooks, and Schick. In the film & television worlds, he has appeared in programs such as See No Evil, Scariest Night Of My Life and Evil Encounters. Past theatre credits include: Morris (Raise The Stakes, Larry Silverburg) Jimmy McCrae (For The Love Of Late Night, Tall Tale Theatre Co.) ; Fr. Flynn, (Doubt: A Parable, Post Productions) ; Sir Toby Belch (Twelfth Night, University Players) ; Michael Katurian (The Pillowman, Spark Plug Players) ; and Friar Laurence (Romeo & Juliet, 7 Siblings).
SAM POOLE (composer and musical director) is a jazz piano major at the School of Creative Arts at the University of Windsor. He is thrilled to have written the score for Another Fucking Christmas Play: A Fucking Musical! This will be his second full-length musical theatre composition, after working on Free by Nicholas Bourque. Past Credits include: Company and Fun Home (Korda Artistic Productions), Mamma Mia! (Windsor Light Musical Theatre), and Mr. Burns (University Players). You can catch him in his graduation project, Songs for a New World in February 2019. Now, get ready to “Face the Misery and Dance”
Promotional Photos by The Headshot Company
MARTIN OUELLETTE as Martin Dysart
Martin Ouellette was born and raised in Windsor, a mecca to which he returned after two
decades in the trenches of a Toronto entertainment scene where he appeared in dozens of
television commercials and fronted a touring rock band. Recent local acting credits include
Bobby in Korda’s Company, Beast in WLMT’s Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, and Captain Hook in
Korda’s Peter Panto. Recent directing credits include The Pirates of Penzance, Evil Dead: The
Musical, and Not Another High School Murder! for Extension-Korda and the upcoming Macbeth
(with Sean Westlake) for Korda Artistic Productions. Martin is represented by Hailey Joy of
NIKOLAS PRSA as Alan Strang
Nikolas Prsa is making his Post Productions debut. A graduate of St. Joseph's High School and a
voracious consumer of local productions of all sorts, Nik previously appeared as a chorus
member in Windsor Light Music Theatre's productions of The King and I, Mary Poppins, Sister
Act, and Beauty and the Beast. In addition, he worked as a backstage crew member for WLMT's
youth productions of Aladdin Jr. and Peter Pan Jr.
KIMBERLEY BABB as Hesther Salomon
Kim is making her Post Productions debut in Equus. Previously, she has performed in shows
with Windsor Light Music Theatre (The Wizard of Oz; The King and I; Joseph and the Amazing
Technicolor Dreamcoat; Mary Poppins; The Little Mermaid; Sister Act; Beauty and the Beast;
and Mamma Mia!), Cardinal Music Productions (Little Shop of Horrors), Korda Artistic
Productions (Mr. Burns; Star Warped: May the Farce be With You), and Migration Hall (Winter
MICHELE LEGERE as Dora Strang
Michele Legere joins Equus as her first show with Post Productions. She was recently seen as
Joan in Strangers Among Us with Korda Artistic Productions. Last year, Michele received the
Best Actress in a Lead Performance award at the Western Ontario Drama League Festival for
her role as Nora for Ghostlight Players’ Better Living. For that same show, she went on to earn a
nomination for Best Performance in a Lead Role in Ottawa at the Theatre Ontario Festival.
Michele can next be seen in the upcoming production of The Drowning Girls with Ghostlight
JOEY OUELLETTE as Frank Strang
Joey has participated in more than 500 different productions -- most recently Spirals and Best
For You with The Purple Theatre Company, Big Green Sky and Riveter with Windsor Feminist Theatre, Yellow Vines and The Man Who Married A Chicken with Paperknife Theatre. His plays have been produced all over North America.
NICOLE COFFMAN as Jill Mason
Nicole Coffman started in film production in 2008 and has since worked on Nara (Splice Productions) and Found Footage (81 Entertainment). She has been a writer, director and producer for many local music videos and her own short films - winning Best Script/Art Direction in student showcases and Best Music Video at the Wayne State film festival. Although she is a newcomer to theatre, she has been active in live performance through spoken word poetry events, burlesque, and more recently stand-up comedy.
MITCH SNADEN as Harry Dalton
Mitch Snaden was last seen in Windsor Light Music Theatre’s productions of Singing in the Rain and Mamma Mia. His past credits include numerous shows with Theatre Windsor, Korda Artistic Productions and as the Devil in Damn Yankees, another Windsor Light show. While living in London he was in King Lear at the McManus Theatre, and in various shows with London Community Players. Mitch can be seen in the upcoming film The Quick and The Dirty..
DYLAN MACDONALD as The Young Horseman
Dylan MacDonald is a local actor last seen as Lee in True West (Post Productions). Other notable
theatrical roles include Vince in Tape, Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice, Bobby in American
Buffalo, Jason Posner in Wit. Recently Dylan finished teaching Improvisation 101 in association
with Post Productions and future courses are forthcoming. He was trained in improvisation and
comedy by The Second City, Toronto.
ANNA ROSATI-LOFT as Nurse
Anna is no stranger to the local theatre scene, wearing many hats. Recently she stage managed
a Shakespeare production of Love Labour's Lost (Ghostlight Players); she now must wear a
nurse's cap to portray the tough-as-nails caregiver in Equus. She is thrilled to be back on stage
in this very challenging and dramatic piece of work. Her credits include Lost in Yonkers (winning
best supporting actress as Aunt Gert) for Theatre Windsor, It's a Wonderful Life, Cemetery Club,
Tony and Tina's Wedding and This is a Play. Saddle up and get ready for a ride you will never
Matthew St. Amand is a life-long resident of Windsor. Over the past thirty years, his short fiction has appeared in The Toronto Reivew of International Writing, Opium Magazine, FRiGG Magazine, as well as numerous online publications.
His prose poetry has appeared in The North American Review, Agni and Phoebe. His books include a collection of short fiction titled, As My Sparks Fly Upward (2004), a volume of poetry, Forever & a Day (2004), a suspense novel, Randham Acts (2006), and a comic novel, Loitering With Intent to Mope (2009). His blog, Inside the Hotdog Factory, spans 740 posts of corporate and political satire, dating back to 2005.
Shelter In Place is Matthew's fifth theatrical production, preceded by Dorian (2008), Shine On You Crazy Diamond (2013), The Uncanny Valley (2015), Moon Over Endor (2017), directed by Mark Lefebvre and Rob Tymec, respectively. Shelter is Matthew's first production with Post Productions. His next play, Negatunity, is tentatively scheduled as part of an upcoming Post Productions season.
When not obsessing over the words and actions of people who never existed, Matthew lives in LaSalle with his wife and two young sons and earns his living as a technical writer in an automotive engineering firm.
FAY LYNN has been active in the Windsor theatre scene since 2002. She was most recently seen on stage at the Shadowbox Theatre as Callie in Stop Kiss. Other recent credits include Lysistrata in Lysistrata, Percy in The Worst Thing I Ever Did (which she also co-wrote and directed) at the 2017 Windsor Walkerville Fringe Festival, Carol in Oleanna, and The Koryphaios of Women in God of Ecstasy. This October, in addition to co-producing Equus with Post Productions, she will be taking on the role of Macbeth in Macbeth with Korda Artistic Productions at the Kordazone Theatre.
Philosopher. Educator. Author. Director. Producer. Actor. Provocateur. MICHAEL K. POTTER is no stranger to pretension and dramatic intimations of self-importance. He has been involved in theatre since the tender age of eleven, and recently began the painful process of learning how not to make an ass of himself onstage. Although he spends most of his waking hours as Managing Director of Post Productions, he still finds time to act occasionally -- most recently as Wesley in The Worst Thing I Ever Did, John in Oleanna, and The Enforcer in season 3 of Space/SyFy's Killjoys.
We all want our work to be taken seriously. When submitting work for publication, or to a contest, writers should hope for a sympathetic reader, but prepare for the unsympathetic reader:
Scene: where does this specific scene take place? On a beach, in a cabin, in a hospital or police station?
Time: when does this scene take place? Ten years in the future? Twenty years in the past? Present day?
How to Write a Compelling Play
The good news and the bad news is that nobody can tell you how to write a compelling play.
If you care to read further, I can describe my process.
At the outset, we need to demystify the whole concept of “ideas”.
New writers regard ideas as diamond-encrusted gifts from the gods, that they are rare and few and precious.
In reality, ideas should be regarded as perishable, plentiful and expendable, like tomatoes.
When an idea materializes, don’t regard it as a miracle. Regard it as a tomato. Examine it looking for flaws and imperfections. Squeeze the tomato to see if it’s mushy. Smell it to see if it’s about to go over. Examine its size – is it puny, is it a bulging mutant?
Do not put ideas on pedestals, put them on the ground and step on them.
If we do that, we’ll squash them! a voice cries out.
We want to squash and discard ideas by the dozen, by the score, by the gross, by the great gross.
Why? But why? the voice cries out.
To find those ideas that do not just squish under our foot. They are out there, but the only way of finding them is by digging through all the mediocre ideas and discarding them all.
Personally, I do not keep a writing journal. I used to, and I soon found it filled with flabby, half-baked, useless fragments. There came a point I no longer feared forgetting an idea. If an idea is any good, it’ll come back.
Don’t expect the surviving tomato/idea to be a glowing prodigy of tomatoes. The best ideas are often very simple.
One idea that recurred to me was simple: two people in a room. The image was so pedestrian anyone else might have thought, “Certainly, that’ll squash under foot worse than the rest!” It did not, however – because I sensed (a) the people were trapped; (b) they were not friends, but also not enemies; they were skeptical of each other, but would also help each other – to a degree.
Who were these people? A man and a woman. The man was Reinhart, a name with a bit of bite, unusual so that it was slightly memorable. He worked in Logistics and Risk Management – a very corporate sounding department, but with little indication about its actual purpose/function. The woman was Rainbow, a softer, more pleasant, unusual name. But every idea is a tomato. After giving the name “Rainbow” the squash test, it didn’t pass. Too hippy-esque. I tried several other names. Finally, “Meghan” passed the squash test. She worked in Wellness, which was also relatable, but with an ambiguous purpose/function. I wanted to work with audience expectations immediately, to let them make assumptions based on my characters’ names, their departments, all easily revealed in an ordinary introduction to one another.
Why were Meghan and Reinhart in the room? Were they incarcerated? Kidnapped? No.
There was an emergency and they were in a “safe room” in their building.
What kind of emergency? A gunman in the building would be very timely. A bomb threat could be very compelling. A person who went crazy, stripped off their clothes and did a nude-run, could be funny.
But I kept stepping on the ideas and they kept squashing.
Then came the idea: Meghan and Reinhart don’t know what the emergency is.
That idea didn’t squash.
At first, it seemed less exciting than the others – but it didn’t squash. So, I explored it. As it turned out, the idea allowed me to reveal my characters very quickly, as they spoke of their own ideas about why a “shelter in place” had been called. Meghan is a worrier, fatalistic, certain that some disaster has occurred. Reinhart is cynical and dismissive, believing the emergency is merely a drill, a waste of time. This immediately created conflict as they discussed/argued why they believed what they believed. Tensions escalate as they attempt to convince the other that their idea is the correct one. This triggered ideas for dialogue, creating a natural push-pull dynamic.
There were many dialogue ideas to squash: Obviously, Meghan and Reinhart are in disagreement, but I wanted to avoid all the easy traps of having them simply insult each other or demean the other’s ideas. So, I drew upon personal experience about times I have had disagreements, drew on experience when I witnessed others who had disagreements, even thought of how I’d seen it portrayed well.
This is where craft and experience came into play. No matter how I try, the first thing I put down on paper is clichéd and obvious. This used to bother me. Then I realized, I knew enough to fix it. So, I came to a point where I just concentrated on getting my ideas down on paper as well as I could – “What do I know best?” I ask myself, and I write that part. Doesn’t matter if it’s not in chronological order. I write the scene that comes in clearest. When that scene is done, I think, “Well, how did they get there?” There are some obvious reasons and I work with those.
So, I put down my sloppy, clichéd dialogue and then I go over and over it, zeroing-in on every part that bothers me. Characters who are glib or too clever are insufferable. Characters who are conveniently stupid and need obvious plot-points explained to them can demolish a story.
I don’t even ask myself for reasons why bits of dialogue rub me the wrong way. If something doesn’t feel right, I re-examine it and often rewrite it.
The big “fixes” are:
With Meghan and Reinhart in the corporate safe room, I have their initial efforts at trying to convince the other about what is happening and/or if they should stay or leave the safe room. But having two people just standing and talking gets boring. Something needs to happen.
So, I looked to external forces for action prompts. Meghan and Reinhart both have cell phones. Could they get news of the emergency over those? No. No cell phone reception. Is that because of where they were located in the building, or was there a more sinister reason? I explored this in dialogue.
Then, I introduced a strange, intermittent sound – something rolling through the duct work in the ceiling above their heads. The sound was enough to spook my characters. They both had their own guesses the source of the sound and what it meant to their safety. I explored this in dialogue.
After the mystery sound fades away, and the back-and-forth speculation dies out, I came to a natural break in the action. Meghan and Reinhart, decide they are trapped, and having decided to stay (for the time being) they need to kill time. How do two strangers do this? They talk about themselves. They ask about the other.
As a further change of direction, I created reasons for each character to temporarily leave the safe room, with the promise of returning. This afforded the remaining character a soliloquy where they revealed thoughts/ideas they never would have said in front of the other.
Eventually, I hit upon an idea – the company had been sold, sometime in the recent past – which sent the story into a new direction, allowing me to create a few different dynamics between Meghan and Reinhart. Meghan, the worrier, soon shows confidence. Reinhart, the arrogant yuppie has a few strategic moments of doubt. No person is monotone. People are complex. They experience a range of emotions. Your characters can feel anything – it’s the writer’s job to pave a realistic route from one emotion to another.
Once I had the dialogue happening, and added some action, I needed to pay attention to pacing.
Did I just pile up all the action in ten pages in the middle of the play, bookending it all with roundabout dialogue? No way. There is a natural ebb and flow to events. Characters gain confidence, characters lose confidence. Characters agree, characters disagree. Characters are confused by events, characters figure out a plan of action. Like a swinging pendulum.
How do you know what to do next? Well, what are you doing right now? If your characters are disagreeing, find a story-reason for them to agree. If your character is frightened, find a story-reason for them to feel assured. And notice I say “story-reason”, and not just “reason”:
Everything you put into a story must do at least ONE of TWO things:
If you have an scene/event occur and it does neither of these things, it must be cut. Real estate in a story is not free space. Every idea has to pay its rent by doing one of those two things: Develop character and/or further the story.
So, Meghan and Reinhart engage in disagreement, and then the mystery sound rumbles through, unifying them in their fear. Their speculation regarding the original of the sound soon separates them, again. This disagreement leads to more dialogue about whether to stay or leave the safe room.
There are no hard and fast rules in writing, but one I set for myself is: the first half of the play steers the audience toward certain questions. The second half of the play answers most of those questions.
Meaning, if you have a character enter, covered in blood, at some point you will have to reveal why and/or who’s blood is it. This is where craft enters. It’s easy to create mystery, but if your story has too many unanswered/unaddressed mysteries can sink your story.
Does this mean all questions must be answered by the end of the play? No. But the role of the writer is similar to that of the court room lawyer: never ask a question to which you do not already know the answer. Do no create mysteries or questions in your story simply to prod it along. There should be a reason for every detail.
Which leads to the painful moments where a writer is faced with cutting details they personally love, but which really serve no purpose in the story. Cut them. Cut them all. If you have to, do a Save As with your document, keep a copy with those precious details, and then save another version in which they are deleted. I do this. It makes cutting much easier. Then, later, when I revisit my grand, precious idea in the previous version, it has usually paled.
In Shelter in Place, I didn’t so much create mysteries, but added touchstone details that I revisited in Act II and III. A seemingly inconsequential detail, early on, becomes a major plot point later.
Ultimately, if you’re writing to be read, you begin your story for yourself, but you complete it for your audience. The craft demands that, at some point in the writing process, your focus shifts from your own enjoyment to the needs of your audience. The two are not mutually exclusive, but they are also not conjoined. Craft is knowing the difference.
Who are you, and where might audiences have seen you before?
I go by the name Fay Lynn. I've been an actor in the Windsor theatre scene since 2002, with a few credits directing and producing, and I am the Creative Director at Post Productions, as well as one of the co-owners of the Shadowbox Theatre. I was most recently seen on stage at the Kordazone Theatre, playing Lysistrata in Korda's Lysistrata (2017). Other recent credits include Carol in Oleanna, Percy in The Worst Thing I Ever Did (which I also co-wrote and directed) at the 2017 Windsor Walkerville Fringe Festival, Kyle "Kylo" Ren in Star War(ped): May the Farce Be With You, and the Koryphaios of Women in God of Ecstasy.
What can you tell us about Callie, the person? What's she like? What is she looking for? What does she need?
I see Callie as easygoing -- to a fault. She's fun and personable, and likes to see herself as open to trying new things, and meeting new people. She imagines herself as adventurous, but in truth she's a creature of habit. She surrounds herself with people and places that are familiar. She avoids real conflict, and evades making any kind of decision that could potentially shake the foundation of her comfortable routine. She has a bold personality, but has always passively allowed others to determine the course of her life for her. Her apartment, her job, where she went to school - everything has been decided for her, and she's always just accepted it, because it was easy. She knows who she's supposed to be, but not who she is. She knows what she's supposed to want, but not what will truly fulfill her. So she's stuck, she's lost, and something's bound to break. She needs something new; something unfamiliar that will force her to make those hard decisions. She needs to take an honest look at herself, really see herself, and ultimately allow herself to really be seen.
How does George fit into this life of cozy routine!
To be blunt, George is Callie's most comfortable and familiar habit. There can be a bit of friendly bickering and petty jealousy, but their relationship is generally easy. It's uncomplicated and pressure-free, and while it isn't exactly “love”, there is genuine affection between them. He's her best friend and, before Sara comes along, George is the one person in Callie's life that she feels like she can really be herself around.
It seems to me that Stop Kiss presents us with examples of several different kinds of love, and that there is love between George and Callie, though it isn't romantic - and isn't what Callie is looking for. How does she find the kind of love she needs in Sara? What does Sara bring that no one else does?
There are times you can meet someone for the first time and experience an instant connection, as though you've known each other for centuries. Sometimes desire can be visceral, and primarily based on animalistic attraction. Sometimes we see in others what we believe is lacking in ourselves, and seek their company as a way of achieving something akin to spiritual completion. Love can be co-dependent, comfortable, and/or self-deprecating. Sometimes something as simple as a touch can feel like coming home. For Callie it's a combination of things, but I like to think of it as something beyond words or reason. She feels certainty, maybe for the first time in her life, with Sara. I think she's afraid of giving in to that, at first, because it isn't easy to categorize and frame the way she feels. It is beyond complex analysis and explanation. My hope is that the feeling will speak for itself.
Why should people see Stop Kiss? What's on it for them?
Who doesn't love a good love story with an element of tragedy?
Photo by The Headshot Company
Who are you, and where might audiences have seen you before?
I'm Lauren Crowley, most recently seen at Korda with Cardinal Music Productions as Sheila in Hair, Street Urchin in Little Shop of Horrors, and Morticia Addams in The Addams Family.
What was it like for you making the transition from musicals into a play like Stop Kiss? What could you bring with you from your musical experience - and what did you have to change or adapt?
I love musicals. I love singing and dancing and acting WHILE singing and dancing - it's just a blast. I think my past experiences with musicals have both helped and hindered my process for Stop Kiss. Being able to find the "song moment" across the scenes has helped me to pinpoint emotional highs and lows throughout the show, as well as isolate the underlying state of my character in moments of mixed messages and confusion. I think one of the biggest adaptations to be made from the characters I've played in musicals to Sara in Stop Kiss would be the manifestation of her emotions. In a musical, when faced with conflict or strong emotion, a character often expresses their state of being through song. Finding the way my character might cope with their "song moments" without the use of music has required a deeper study of human nature. Choosing outburst vs. withdrawal, or patience vs. action -- these moments define Sara as a "real person", as do her reactions to the consequences of her choices. She has really pushed me out of my usual habit of connecting to my character, and into the process of defining her based on her experiences instead of my own.
What can you tell us about Sara? Who is she and what does she need?
Sara is a lovely human being who has fairly recently started living her life for herself. She got out of a relationship she felt was holding her back and made her way to New York to teach third grade in an area where she believes she can really make a difference. She is strong, caring, and confident, albeit a bit idealistic at times. I think Sara's needs often stem from her self-assured nature, and are a reflection of the fact that she doesn't always understand that not everyone has as clear a vision of who they are and what they want for their lives as she has. She seems to want Callie to have herself all figured out, but I also think Callie's lack of direction and self-awareness is one of the things Sara is initially drawn to.
That raises another question, doesn't it? Why would Sara be so intrigued by someone who lacks self direction and self awareness?
Definitely a challenging question. It can't be as simple as chalking it up to "opposites attract" or any other available cliché, but there is some truth to the excitement in a balancing act of two seemingly different personalities. Sara is one of the few people who seems to bring out Callie's silly side - she seems much less guarded around Sara than any of the other characters. Seeing this lighter side to Callie solidifies in Sara's mind that she could be a much happier person, but doesn't necessarily know how to go about making the required changes, or even what those changes are. Based on some of the references to Sara's life in St. Louis, I get the impression that moving to New York was the beginning of the strong, self-assured Sara we see. She makes references to finally being where she wants to be, which implies that while she was back home and with Peter that she was living similarly to what she sees Callie doing; she was letting life happen to her rather than creating the life she wanted. This connection is likely what encourages Sara to help Callie find what she wants and go after it - it is less about being attracted to her lack of direction or self-awareness, and more about caring for Callie because of who she already knows her to be and wanting to help her find the same happiness that Sara was able to find for herself.
Building on what you've just said. What is Stop Kiss telling us about love - in general, and in particular the types that Sara has experiemced?
Sara's experiences with love all seem to be very different from the next: her family, her students, Peter, and Callie. She describes her family as a cult, jokingly of course, but her parents do seem to be a bit overbearing and protective. She never mentions any siblings which leads me to believe she is an only child, likely contributing to this extreme closeness by which she feels a bit smothered. Her love for her work and her students is evident in her idealistic view of her kids in New York - she is truly proud of their accomplishments and seems to prefer working with students in higher risk populations, offering them the support and love they may not otherwise be getting, in order to feel fulfilled. In a way, I think this love is more self-serving despite its seemingly altruistic nature; feeling that her students need her gives her a sense of purpose she is otherwise lacking. Her love with Peter strikes me as the kind where she ended up staying in the relationship for much longer than she was happy in order to continue meeting someone else's needs. Caring for Peter lead her to prioritizing him over her own happiness, ultimately leading to a break up that felt like a long time coming for one party, and an absolute shock to the other. Although I definitely think leaving was ultimately best for Sara, it is possible that no longer being needed by Peter was part of what prompted her need to be needed by her students instead. Sara's love for Callie is the love that catches you off guard - the one you never saw coming. They bring out the best in each other while balancing each other's extremes. It's friendship first, full of support and empathy and fun, with the added bonus of wanting to hold hands and cuddle whenever possible. The overall message in Stop Kiss regarding love, to me, is that you need to be open to love without judgement of where it is coming from. If we close ourselves off with rules or expectations about who we will or should or have to end up with, we are almost guaranteeing our own unhappiness. Love is about being open, vulnerable, honest, and all those scary things that make it difficult to have with just anyone. Accepting that, and wanting it for ourselves and for everyone else would truly be a step towards a more loving world as a whole.
Finally, why should people see Stop Kiss?
Stop Kiss is a beautiful show. It takes a variety of perspectives on relationships between people - how they form and how they influence our lives. The story is beautiful and tragic with great bits of humour thrown in. The characters are very relatable and I have no doubt the audience will see pieces of themselves in each of us on stage. Not to mention my cast-mates are all such incredibly talented, genuine people and they are truly a joy to watch. The show will make you feel, it will make you think. It will make you want to hold your loved ones close, and remind you how important it is to speak your love.
Photo by Jaqcues Scheepers Photography
Who are you, and where might audiences have seen you before?
I’m Dan MacDonald. You might recognize my voice from 939 The River - I'm the host of The Afternoon Drive - and I also host and produce a weekly show called Hear + Now which showcases local music! As far as theatre goes, I've performed in local theatre since 2010 - including the DRAG Trilogy at Kordazone, I was in the musical (title of show), - also some really fun roles in plays like Entertaining Mr. Sloane, The Divine Sister and the gender-bending Theodora: She-Bitch of Byzantium to name a few. I’m pumped to be working with Post Productions for the first time!
Clearly your theatre experience is mostly in edgy gender - ending plays. How is playing a character like George in Stop Kiss different for you? Was the transition difficult?
Believe it or not, playing George is actually CLOSER to the real me than the other roles I've played. George works in the service industry (I did as well for about 10 years), he likes to party, he seems to have a bit of fluidity when it comes to the people he's with, he's laid back, a little bit directionless but ultimately he's probably considered a nice guy with a small wild streak. I see plenty of myself in that character!
That gives us a pretty good sense of who George is. How does he fit into the story and themes of Stop Kiss?
I feel like there are so many themes of identity in the play - people searching, finding, becoming who they are - and George is someone who seems secure and confident in who he is. Not perfect, but not trying to be. I love his confidence. Mostly - I love his warmth. He loves to party and be social, but his heart is always in the right place when it comes to his close friends. Callie is a close friend. He loves her - but I feel it's a true love. More than “girlfriend love”. It’s a love that has evolved to something far stronger than romantic - it's almost more like family. That said – I do think there is a small bit of sadness when he realizes how his relationship with Callie is changing – although I believe he accepts it fully, because he’s an “it is what it is” kind of guy.
George really does seem to embody a particular kind of love - what Bertrand Russell called creative love as opposed to possessive love -- the kind that is open and welcoming and respectful of the dignity of others. Do you see this as the sort of love that dominates the story of Stop Kiss, or is it one of several alternatives at work in this story? How complex is love on this play?
It's so true. George's love is not the SLIGHTEST bit possessive or selfish - just open! He wants to have fun and he wants everyone else to have fun, too. A little bit hedonistic - but an ethical hedonist! I don't think George ever intends to hurt anyone - but he appreciates people who carry the same "open door / zero drama" policy when it comes to romance. Love seems to be moving into uncharted territory for many of the characters in the show. Peter is losing what may have been the love of his life. Callie might be discovering real love for the first time. George's love for his friend is evolving into something deeper than just a good friend with benefits. The characters - almost all of them, including Mrs. Winsley - seem to be in the process of figuring out where they stand with their significant others. Like any relationship - it's all a work in progress, all a beautiful struggle. But - love is complex and as simple as it can be - it can be equally complicated. The love in this play is all true - and much of it has some baggage.
What has the rehearsal process been like for you, personally, as you’ve experienced the play evolve and take place?
The rehearsals have been fantastic. I love that we do some character study and examine who everyone in the story is. What I most love is the timeline of this show. The scenes are not in chronological order - and watching the show evolve and the way the timelines come together to tell this story make it SO impactful! To me it backs up themes of connection ... and disconnection. Emotional and physical. There are connections ... and there are disconnects. Rehearsing the scenes in order, and then watching how the scenes fall into their proper place in the script - it almost created a whole other show for me -and seeing some of the scenes I was in, in context with the other scenes they fell between gave me insight into the story and characters.
Why should people see Stop Kiss? What's in it for them?
So many great reasons to see Stop Kiss. Mostly - it's a simple story, but like ALL simple things, nothing is ever TRULY simple. This is a show about raw love; it's warm, it's shocking, it's tense, it's charming, it's touching. It's tight writing and a timeline that will keep people guessing. It's an honour to work with some of my favourite people in our city's theatre scene in this show - and throw in some music from one of my favourite local artists - Flower Face. I think going to see this show will be an emotional experience: fun, entertaining, but also heavy. I'm sure the trajectory of our lives changes every single SECOND. This is really about one single moment and how it can change everything we know - about life, and about ourselves.
Photo by The Headshot Company
Who are you, and where might audiences have seen you before?
My name is Matthew Froese. I've got my own Caesar at home. Most recently audiences might remember me from Bedroom Farce at Korda.
What can you tell us about your character? What's he like and how does he figure into the story and themes of Stop Kiss?
Peter’s situation is pretty familiar to a lot of people. His relationship is over and he doesn't know it yet. He needs closure and instead he's presented with an opportunity to try to white knight his relationship back to life. I think he presents the easy option for Sara, making her choice to stay in New York that much harder.
It might be easy to play a character like Peter as a one-word sad sack. How do you make him dynamic, living, and real?
We talk in rehearsal all the time about how none of these characters are bad people. That includes Peter, although his goodness is perhaps hardest to see. My goal is to get the audience to see his heart breaking and not let his entitlement and self-centered petulance take center stage.
Love seems to be the central theme in Stop Kiss - specifically, that love comes in many varieties, some of them unexpected and novel to people at various points in their lives. Peter, as you say, is a good person, and he seems to represent or embody a specific sort of love. How would you describe it?
Peter's love is misguided, confused and based on happier times, I guess?
Photograph by The Headshot Company
Who are you, and where might audiences have seen you before?
My name is Cindy Pastorius. I play Mrs. Winsley and Nurse in Stop Kiss. Audiences may have seen me most recently as Mother in Post Production’s True West. Previous theatre performances include Frances in Jenny’s House of Joy, chorus in Les Miserables, Greek Chorus in God of Ecstasy, and Stranger/Mistress in Dead Man’s Cell Phone
What can you tell us about your characters? How do they fit into the story and themes of Stop Kiss? What kind of people are they?
Mrs Winsley is more complex than I first thought. She seems to be a woman haunted by her past (she’s always been a fitful sleeper). But she came to NYC as a young woman from a small town seeking something. She’s also haunted by her husband’s infidelity, and haunted by the violent act she witnesses. She wants desperately to be accepted as a NY bourgeoisie but she’s still not 100% sure if this is who she really is. This fits the theme of searching for self: the idea of running to, rather than away, from who you are; the idea of facing truths that others see, long before you can face them yourself; the idea of accepting who & where you are or stopping and reevaluating your direction to live your authentic self. It’s about self acceptance and self love as much as it is about accepting and loving others.
The nurse is simply that: a helper, a confidante, a non-judgemental person who helps those in her care as well as their loved ones. She says little but invites others to have their say. She is a small, comforting rock in the middle of a wild storm.
As an actor, how do you approach bringing each of these characters to life, giving them distinct voices and personalities and identities?
Trying to give minor characters life is difficult. You don’t get the same amount of information as you often do with leads. I try, usually with the help of really great directors, to create their life before the play. If you don’t give them an entire past -- with feelings, emotions, and memories -- then it’s just you standing on the stage saying lines. This time, playing two characters who are very different, is a challenge. I’ve had to decide how to make the audience believe they are two very different people. Obviously voice and mannerisms come into play.
Love, in its various forms, is clearly one of the themes of Stop Kiss. What do you think the play tells us about love overall and also, specifically, through your two characters?
Love is complicated. When you find it, hold on to it for all it’s worth and tell the people in your life that you love them. Through my characters we see love of humankind -- caring for others despite them being perfect strangers is a part of each of my characters. One wonders if they find their connections this way rather than in their own homes.
What would you say to someone who is on the fence about seeing Stop Kiss? Why should they see this play?
I would tell people to grab someone they love, agree to hold hands for the entire show, and come and be reminded why it isn’t always easy to put into words the reasons why we love someone. We just wouldn’t be complete without them!
Photograph by The Headshot Company