Today’s dossier is exciting to me because it is the first to profile a Toronto playwright. I’ve met Brandon at a few events and his charisma and general excitement for anything theatre is awfully infectious. I have no doubt you’ll be able to get a glimpse of this below.
That said, here’s dossier #4:
Who are we talking with?
The self-proclaimed enfant-terrible of Toronto independent theatre. The title is a little premature but here’s hoping it’ll stick. You’re speaking with Brandon Crone, Artistic Director of safeword.
Turtleneck is your first play. What drew you to playwriting?
The whole thing sort of happened unexpectedly. I never thought I would be a writer. When I was studying theatre in school, I was surrounded by playwrights who were constantly working on new material and I generally concluded that in order to be a playwright, it was required that you possess a natural skill with language and that was something I would never be able to attain to. I was always very good at structure but hopelessly inarticulate. It wasn’t until I started reading Harold Pinter for the first time that I suddenly realized that I could potentially use this impediment to my advantage when crafting a play. The way he uses language as a cover or a code to illuminate the true desires of his characters made me realize that most people aren’t actually that particularly lyrical or articulate in their daily interactions with other people. It’s what’s going on underneath those commonplace phrases or jumbled sentences that’s most exciting to me and more true to life in any case. I attended a bi-monthly, play-reading group that was created by two friends of mine, Andrew Young and Shayne Monaghan called Monday Night New Works, where people could bring in new work to share and discuss with fellow writers. After that, I told them I would write something and bring it in to be read at the next session. During that month and the half, I wrote Turtleneck start to finish and it hasn’t changed much since then.
What is you earliest memory of wanting, or needing to do theatre?
Since birth I guess. I’ve been doing it for long as I can remember. When I was growing up, my Mom ran her own daycare in our basement so I was always surrounded by other kids at a young age. She would read us stories, fairy tales, nursery rhymes and when we went on to the park, she recalls me directing all the other children in visionary re-enactments of the stories. There are also very embarrassing photos of me wearing a dress when I single-handedly directed and choreographed a production of The Nutcracker with my Grade Two class in the playground and presented it to the school’s faculty and students unannounced. It’s never been something I’ve had to think about because that need has always been inside me and I’ve always pursued it. I’ve been very fortunate to know from an early age what I wanted to do in life.
Turtleneck only has 30 seats per showing. Was this a conscious choice, or just a side effect of the venue?
A little of both. The initial idea was to do a small, intimate production but choosing to have specifically 30 seats was influenced by the size and capacity of our venue. However, having rehearsed in the space while experiencing the show from the viewpoint of the audience makes me realize that it has definitely worked out in our favour. Everyone is in such close proximity to the action that it’s hard not to feel like you’re a part of the play. It really creates an encompassing effect that perfectly lends itself to the overall theme of the show.
What has been your favourite memory from writing and/or directing Turtleneck?
What I’ve enjoyed most is the conversations I’ve had upon sharing it with other people. Turtleneck is an experience. You either come out of it deeply moved, deeply offended or in a strange limbo of moral ambiguity so for me what’s most important about this project is being able to create a forum of meaningful discussion and reflection about important issues, feelings and experiences. I’ve been living in the Turtleneck bubble for the past few months now as we ready ourselves for the production and in a way I really don’t want it to end. I wish we could just keep meeting together in rehearsals to work on the material, talk about it and explore the infinite ways the text can be interpreted. But now the time is fast approaching for us to share the fine work everyone’s put into this show with our audiences. I think that’s what I’m most looking forward. How are people going to react to this crazy play?!
Describe Turtleneck in three adjectives or phrases.
Carnal – The play is very driven by sexual desire in all its different lights. But whether it be sensual, tender, rapturous, forceful, aggressive, pathetic, mournful or just plain repulsive, it all derives from our base, primal instincts.
Side-splitting – Did I mention it’s a comedy? There are certain moments in the show where I can always guarantee without fail that I will be curled up in a ball on the floor crying my eyes out with laughter.
Haunting – When all is said and done, the play just stays with you. It’s designed in a way that allows the audience to draw their own conclusions and try to piece together the rubble for themselves.
Do you have anything you’d like to share with us? A story? A picture? A video? A song?
Yes, here’s the link to our show trailer:
Turtleneck is happening from Feb 7th-17th at hub14 (14 Markham St., just West of Queen and Bathurst). Tickets are only $15. Since seating is limited, it’s best to book online ahead of time at http://www.secureaseat.com/turtleneck to ensure you’ll get a spot.
Shows are on Thurs, Fri, Sat evenings at 8pm and Sat and Sun matinees at 2pm.
It’s gonna be a fantastic production and I hope everyone will try their best to come out to experience the ride.
For more info on safeword, “Like” our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/safewordtheatre