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On the road again…

Like just about everyone else on the planet, I’ve found that the pandemic has thrown a real monkey wrench into my work schedule. A scheduled reading of Marcia’s and my latest play, Deadline, at The Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea, Michigan, was indefinitely postponed back in March. Also, the play’s world premiere, slated to happen early this year at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, Ontario, was cancelled. To add to the misery, a production last summer of Norm Foster’s Ned Durango Comes to Big Oak at Upper Canada Playhouse in Morrisburg, Ontario that I was slated to perform in was cancelled as well. There is one bright light in the theatre world, however. Although there’s no live theatre in this country for the foreseeable future, that’s not the case in China. The annual production of our mystery, A Party to Murder at the Shanghai Modern Theatre is going on a 16-city tour in early 2021. In the absence of any other live theatre opportunities, however, we’ve had to move on to greener pastures for the time being. Both Marcia and I have built sound studios in our respective homes, so we’re able to do voiceover work remotely. This proved to be a fortunate move, as most of the work I’ve done in the past several months has been in the voiceover arena. I’ve been busy with a few other projects as well, though. I’ve finally managed to get one of my screenplays, A Different Corner, into the hands of a film producer. I’ll keep you posted on whether that goes anywhere. Also, I was able to finish the first draft of my second novel, entitled The Shaming of the True. It’s a sequel to my first novel, the comedy/thriller The Poor Player. In this new one, our hero Harry Hargreaves is sent to St. Petersburg, Russia, ostensibly for a book signing of the Russian translation of his book, A Man of No Importance. However, Harry has another agenda on this trip. He’s been called out of retirement by CSIS to put a stop to the efforts of the Internet Research Agency, the infamous Russian troll farm who gained notoriety for meddling with the U.S. election in 2016. They’ve trained their sights on Canada now, and it’s Harry’s mission to throw a spanner in the works at the IRA before they succeed in getting a Donald Trump clone elected as Prime Minister. Once again, however, ghosts from Harry’s past arise as he comes into contact with a sexy Russian spy he fell in love with many years ago on another CSIS op. 

One of the many fine pieces of China we saw at the Shanghai Museum.

A few weeks after our first play, Who’s Under Where?, opened at Teatr Komedia in Wrocław, Poland under the title Damski Biznes, Marce and I flew off to China to see two productions of our murder mystery, A Party to Murder (or Halloween Games, as it’s known in Mandarin) in Shanghai and Shenzhen. It was an incredible visit, in many respects.

The Shanghai skyline.

 

There was this incredible bit of bad luck, for instance. On our first day in Shanghai, while visiting Yu Garden, Marcia wiped out on a flight of very slippery stone steps and fractured her patella. However, we decided to make the best of the situation and soldier on. Here’s a shot of the two of us in Shanghai at the closing night performance of Halloween Games. 
 
 
Our hosts could not have been kinder to us. Here’s a shot of Marce, her husband Ron and me at a sumptuous dinner in our honour, hosted by the creative team behind the Shanghai production. They are (from left to right) Yan Minyang (our primary liaison in Shanghai), Professor Fan Yisong (the man who translated the play into Mandarin) and the show’s producer, Mr. Zhang Yu.
 

It soon became clear in the following days, however, that Marce’s mobility issues were more of a problem than we had anticipated; and so, Ron and Marce decided to fly home on the day we were to slated to fly to Shenzhen. Meanwhile, I continued on to Shenzhen alone to  see the production of Halloween Games there.

As with our hosts in Shanghai, the gang in Shenzhen spoiled me rotten during my brief visit. Here’s a shot of me posing with the producers and cast of the Shenzhen production of Halloween Games. 

It was a terrific night of theatre. After the performance, we had an informal Q&A session with the audience, after which most of the cast and several others went trooping off to a local restaurant for some Chinese hot pot. A great time was had by all.

It was a wonderful visit, but like all such ventures, it was over much too soon. Marce and I are already making plans to return to China as soon as we can manage.

Meanwhile, Something Fishy was recently published by Samuel French, Inc. Fishy had its premiere production at the Lighthouse Festival in the summer of 2016. Marcia and I are hard at work on our next piece, a comedy-thriller called Deadline a two-act play for six actors (3m, 3f) about a couple of mystery writers who find themselves trapped inside their own play. Here’s a silly little blurb about it that we’ve put up on YouTube:

On the acting front, Marce and I have teamed up once again as actor and director in a production of Agatha Christie’s The Spider’s Web at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, Ontario, running from September 21st to October 6th. A few weeks after that, we’re off to China! Meanwhile, Who’s? and Cooks continue to run in rep at Teatr Komedia in Warsaw.

   

Rafal Cieszynski, Tomasz Dedek, Sylwia Gliwa and Hanna Konarowska in a scene from Kontrabanda

 

The cast and director of Kontrabanda 

On Sunday, February 26, 2017, I attended the Polish premiere of Kontrabanda (Too Many Cooks) at Teatr Komedia in Warsaw, Poland. The opening was a huge success, with many curtain calls and rave reviews.

 

Jack of Diamonds

Here’s a shot from the premiere production of our fourth play, Jack of Diamonds, available through Samuel French, Inc. of New York. The premiere took place at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton, Ontario, on October 30, 2015. Featured in the photograph are Ian D. Clark, Mary Long, Valerie Boyle and Wendy Thatcher. To see what the Hamilton Spectator thought of the show, click here.

 

wuw-in-warsawInteres Zycia  

Here’s a shot of me with the cast of the first Polish-language production of Interes Zycia (Who’s Under Where?) at the Teatr Komedia in Warsaw, Poland. It opened in March of 2016 and is currently enjoying a very successful–and open-ended–run. Along with Kontrabanda (Too Many Cooks), Teatr Komedia is now running two of our plays as part of their repertoire.

 

SF Phone PicSomething Fishy                                                                                                                                                                                           On June 30, 2016, our play Something Fishy (written with Marcia Kash) had its world premiere at Lighthouse Festival in Port Dover, Ontario. It was a huge seller and got a great review. You can read it here.

 

Me, Tom Allen and Ivan Sherry before our performance of At Sea for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’.

In the fall of 2015, for the first time, I found myself performing in something I’d written myself.  Along with CBC’s Tom Allen, I put together a couple of short plays for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, both of which were performed during the interval of two of the programmes they were presenting at Roy Thompson Hall as part of their Decades Festival. The first piece was called  Debussy: At Sea, for which I was joined by the redoubtable Ivan Sherry. It was a short play consisting of two scenes (one a brief curtain-raiser performed on the TSO stage immediately prior to their performance of Debussy’s La Merand a second, longer scene that took place in the lobby during the interval) about Debussy and how he came to create this famous piece. Then on November 11th and 14th, in conjunction with the TSO’s performance of Mahler’s Symphony #4, Ivan and I did a second piece, The Talking Cure – a dramatization of the famous meeting between Mahler and Sigmund Freud in the spring of 1910.

Le Combat Des ChefsThe first French-language production of my third play, Too Many Cooks, (written with my partner in crime, Marcia Kash), had a hugely successful run in 2015 at Le Théâtre du Vieux-Terrebonne in Québec. Thanks to all the rave reviews and sold-out houses, it was extended a week, and after the run in Terrebonne, the show toured to Québec City and Gatineau.

 

 

DouglasHughesTheSpyEbook-WEB

Meanwhile, I’ve started work on a sequel to my first novel, The Poor Player.

You can find out a little bit more about the first book here.