Month: June 2022

Orcas at the Junction

I wanted to write a play about my daughter and her love of orcas

This was pretty much all I had in my mind almost five years ago when I sat in the Director’s Lounge of Theatre Aquarius as part of what was called the Junction. Assembled as a group of creators who weren’t sure what form their piece would take, the Junction was a space to cultivate and explore ideas and see where they lead. Prior to the Junction, I’d been part of the Aquarius Playwrights Unit and was used to coming in with some finished material. Not this time. All I knew was I wanted to explore ideas around family, the ocean and the ever increasing spectre of climate change and see if it would work onstage.

The room where it happened. The Directors Lounge at Theatre Aquarius where the Junction met. [Photo credit: TCA Thier + Curran Architects Inc. 2022]

It started as a collection of monologues. Most were about whales and sharks and the ocean. Some of them were in my voice, as if I were telling a story. Some were in the voice of my daughter, as if she were older than the child she is right now. Some were even in the ‘voice’ of the orcas, themselves. Those monologues, as formative as they were to the version of Whale Fall which premieres next month at the Fringe, were really rough drafts. That’s why the Junction was such an ideal spot for them to be heard for the first time.

New play workshops are hard for playwrights. Some are enough to drive those level-headed of us back to our secluded home offices never to return. However, the magic offered by the Theatre Aquarius Junction was the safety of the space that it made for the creators and the work we introduced to one another week after week. Especially when the material was extremely hard. And this happened on many occasions, not just with Whale Fall but with the work of the other members, as well. There were tears and anxiety on all of our parts, I think, because many in the Junction were trying to express something that didn’t have a predetermined form.

Facebook remembers. 2019 post about public readings of Junction material and the first time Whale Fall was read.

With the past two years still pressing on our collective sense of trauma, it’s easy to forget about the time before. 2017 now feels like a strangely distant era, and looking back at my initial notes and writings for Whale Fall, it’s intriguing to see how much the piece has grown and found its voice, especially given how fraught the journey from then to now has been. The play now in rehearsals with Aaron, Stephanie and Ray owes a creative debt to the input and support from the members of Theatre Aquarius’ Junction and I was blessed to have them as my first audience.

In terms of the orcas, the Junction was the first pod that helped bring the voice of this play to surface so it could take its first breath. Koosh!

Special thanks to the members of the Theatre Aquarius Junction who supported the writing of Whale Fall: Vicktoria Adam, Luke Brown, Taryn Crankshaw, Crystal Dumitru, Krista Mcnaughton, Allison Hossack, Carlyn Rhamey, Annie Rosenberg, and Ryan Sero.