November: Why Deserter?

November 27, 2017 Posted by Daniel

I have been writing Deserter for years. I first heard Joshua Key speak at a fundraiser in 2010. I wrote my first few scenes, adapted from Joshua’s book in 2012 (almost nothing from those original scenes remains in the play, but it was a start). I completed the first draft in 2015 and the production draft in 2017. It will premiere in May of 2018 and hopefully tour in 2019-20, maybe beyond. So, it’s not like this is the only thing I’ve been doing, but that’s almost 1/4 of my life!

Arne MacPherson, Majdi Bou-Matar, Andrew Cecon, Jeff Strome, Charlene Van Buekenhout and Steven Ratzlaff around the table in our 2016 workshop (photo by Solmund MacPherson)

I have never served in the army, I have never been to Iraq, I have never lived in a country under occupation by foreign soldiers. So why Deserter? Well, to me, it picks up where my last play left off. Here is how I put it in a recent grant application:

Deserter is the latest in a series of Moving Target creations exploring moral behaviour in a complex world. Our most recent play, Good People Bad Things, explored “banal evil,” from emotional abuse to genocide. We found that perpetuating evil is often as easy as “going with the flow” and that resisting social pressure can be very very difficult. Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann and many others went with the flow.

Joshua Key and other American war deserters resisted. They stood up and said “No. What we’re doing here is wrong, and I’m not going to do it anymore.” And how did we, as Canadian society, respond? While many Canadians support them, these former soldiers have lived in Canada without status – they could be deported at any minute – for more than a decade.

Starting in 2013, I interviewed Joshua Key extensively. I read memoirs of soldiers, journalistic accounts of life in Iraq, a psychiatrist’s book about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and articles about war resisters in Canada. I adapted material, riffed on material, created characters and amalgamated characters, exploring the scenes in workshops with some of the actors who will now be acting in the premiere.

I worked on Deserter with more than a little help from my friends – and in close collaboration with my dramaturg, Chris Gerrard-Pinker, as it went from a collection of scenes in no particular order to a post-modern deconstruction of the character, circular in structure, ending where it began, to what it is now: the psychological drama of a war deserter caught with a fake passport, unstuck in time due to PTSD, unstuck in place for many other reasons.

Arne MacPherson, Charlene Van Buekenhout, Jeff Strome, Karl Thordarson and Michael Lawrenchuck in a reading of the first draft of Deserter at the Carol Shields Festival, 2015. (photo by Chris MacDonald)

Deserter will premiere in Winnipeg May 17-27, 2018 at the Rachel Browne Theatre. We hope to see you there!

I love every part of the playwriting process – no matter how uncomfortable I may be during some of it, no matter how much I may have complained last time you ran into me (I complain, therefore I am) – it really is such a privilege. I love the research and discovery, the first swipes at scenes, the polishing of the scenes, the arranging and re-arranging of scene titles on recipe cards, the formation of the story. And one of my greatest joys is yet to come: sitting in the audience during each performance, watching the actors create the play every night, experiencing the play through the eyes of each new audience.

In the meantime, my job is business-y. In early November, I submitted a grant application (you just read part of it). Now I’m looking for rehearsal space. This morning, I talked to a graphic designer – okay, that’s kind of exciting. Stay tuned for the poster design! And in coming months: more partnerships, more details. Starting late December / early January we’ll have design meetings – that’s going to be great. And this is my life: a million things to do, in no particular order. And eventually we’ll have a show.

And I’m planning to write a blog post each month. Any suggestions? Any questions? Did you actually read all the way to the bottom? Thanks so much! Email me about any of the above:

MovingTargetTheatreCompany [at] gmail [dot] com.

Click here to join the Moving Target email list.

And keep checking this website for updates!

Looking forward,

Daniel

October: the first month of the rest of my life

October 31, 2017 Posted by Daniel

photo by Sati Allen

I have mostly been on parental leave from Moving Target for more than a year. My son, Akiva, was born in June, 2016. Around that time, I started looking for a day job and I found one that fall – actually two: Communications Co-Ordinator at the Daniel McIntyre St Matthews Community Association, half-time, and in the other half of my time, Co-Ordinator of Friends of Sherbrook Pool. It was amazing – I worked with lots of great folks in a strong, vibrant inner-city community. And the first year of Akiva’s life was amazing, and the tenth year of my step-daughter, Sati’s life, and of course my life with my partner Linsea – it has all been very very full.

But by this summer, my artistic projects needed my attention, especially because we have plans to present both of them:

Deserter, which I have been working on since 2013/14, will premiere

May 17 – 27, 2018

in Winnipeg, at the Rachel Browne Theatre

Mark your calendars. You’re all invited, and keep checking this website for details.

Also, I’m working on a new play about a Transgender person in a Jewish family. That’s a story unto itself, but first, the dates: we’re doing a reading at Winnipeg Jewish Theatre‘s So Nu? Festival

March 13 – 15, 2018 (one night, TBA)

So my last day of work at DMSMCA/FOSP was September 28. Then Yom Kippur – which was as spiritually cleansing as always – and now Linsea and I are sharing the child-care and home-making responsibilities, we’re each taking time for our own work and my main work is these two projects.

Deserter

Deserter is finally becoming the play I always wanted it to be – and it took a long time to figure out. It was a collection of scenes in no particular order for the first year. Most of them were set in Iraq, but I insisted that I wanted the story to start and finish in Canada. In 2015, we started to find a package to put it in – he gets stopped at the airport and put in a cell. Why? We’d figure that out later. In our 2016 script development workshop, it became all about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In 2017, it is becoming the drama of a war deserter caught with a fake passport, and “What’s going to happen to him?” and it’s seen through the eyes of PTSD.

So I’m mostly shifting into the producer’s seat. I’m applying for grants, I’m getting the artistic and production team in place, I’m having phone and coffee meetings with long-time friends and new friends about potential partnerships for the production. And it’s all coming into place.

The New Play

My new play is inspired by my close friend who is an Orthodox (or fully observant) Jew, who is also a FTM transgender man. If this doesn’t seem like a contradiction, it should – it should be impossible. It’s a very gendered and gender-segregated religion! Years ago, I was talking about this with an artistic director over coffee and he said, “Well, I’m interested in the play about Transgender Orthodox Jews.” I laughed and said, “No, no, that’s not a play…”

I recounted the conversation to my friend and he offered to help me with the play. On two conditions: 1) it can’t only be depressing* – it has to also capture the light, joyous aspects of being trans, and 2) it has to give some credence to the beauty that its practitioners find in Orthodox Jewish practice. I decided to make it a comedy, and the first 7 pages seemed to write themselves.

However, now that I’m beginning to work on the piece more seriously… issues come up! Transgender people are very present in the North American pop-culture imagination right now. Art about Trans people has become a genre, if not multiple genres, and much of it is made by cis-gender (non-Trans) artists! So… great. Is this really what I want to be doing? Do I feel it’s “my place” to tell this story? Not really. Like Naomi Zeveloff, the cis-gender author of “Transgender and Jewish,” I feel this project is “an act of hubris and humility all at once.” And it’s the same issue writers always get into – it’s impossible and not necessarily desirable to only tell stories within the narrow confines of our own experience. But, when you’re telling stories that you haven’t lived… etc. And, obviously, I feel I have something to offer. But: it makes for a pretty intense process.

I’m reading lots. I’ll put my full reading list on the website when I make a page for the new play. I have so far interviewed five Trans people, some of them Jewish, some not, a few friends who are queer and Jewish but not Trans, and one parent of a Trans person – and it’s been amazing. This is one part of the job (or lack thereof) I really love. People have been so generous and vulnerable with me, sharing their stories and perspectives, sharing their pain and worries – this process feels very powerful. I’m intimidated as anything, because how can I honour and respect all of the above?

Stay tuned to this website and blog to find out.

Thanks for reading,

Daniel

A footnote:

*I took this as a comment on my writing habits, but my friend clarified recently – he meant it as a comment on the way trans people were being represented in pop-culture at that time, which has shifted since.

 

Canadian Literature

February 5, 2016 Posted by Daniel

Hi Everyone.

Happy New Year!

I can still say that, even though it’s February 5th, because I haven’t seen many of you since 2015 and does it really matter what day it is? I wish you a happy day and a happy, healthy year. Beginning right now.

Moving Target Theatre Company has a few pieces of exciting news:

1) A Canadian Literature class at Brandon University is studying my play, Good People Bad Things! And as part of this, the university is bringing me to Brandon next week (Feb 8 – 12) to lead some workshops and perform the play, followed by talkbacks. If you are in Brandon or have friends in Brandon, please let them know. Admission is free and it would be great to get lots of people out to the show. A huge thank you to my friend and fellow playwright, Dale Lakevold, who has been the driving force in making this whole thing happen. Here’s the poster:

 

 

Thurs, Feb 11, 2016 at 12:00 noon
Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 3:30pm

at the Evans Theatre, Brandon University

2) Speaking of collaborating with friends on performances of Good People Bad Things, I am performing Good People Bad Things in Winnipeg in collaboration with Theatre Projects Manitoba, as one of their monthly Salons! If you’re in Winnipeg or have friends in Winnipeg:


Mon, Feb 29, 2016
as a Theatre Projects Manitoba Salon, at the

Times Change(d) High and Lonesome Club, 234 Main St

Doors open at 6:00pm (come early, it’s a restaurant and bar!)

Performance begins at 7:00pm

Admission is by donation

 3) The writing continues on Deserter. We did a successful reading in May, 2015, at the Carol Shields Festival of New Works at Prairie Theatre Exchange, and another great reading of an excerpt at the Impact! Festival in Kitchener Waterloo, September 2015. I’m doing some exciting rewrites now. More news to come, and it will eventually hit a stage and hopefully tour across Canada and it will be spectacular. And good news, for those who know Joshua Key, the real war deserter who inspired my play. He has been granted a work permit! Which also means he can get a health card. It’s not as good as citizenship or permanent residence, but it’s a huge step – he has been in Canada for more than 10 years, almost all of that time without a work permit or health card.

And the projects continue. Thanks for supporting the Moving Target Theatre Company and our earnest brand of personal/political theatre. I hope to see you soon.

Theatrically yours,

Daniel

The Year Two Thousand Fifteen

December 31, 2014 Posted by Daniel

 

This photo is me and my step-daughter, Sati, with the mini-gingerbread houses we made from scratch!

It’s New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow will be 2015. The year Marty McFly and Doc travel to in Back to the Future Part II. I was hoping to get a hoverboard for Hannukah.

I didn’t, but I do have a stage management gig coming up Jan 6-10. Alan Williams taught and worked in Winnipeg for a number of years – I think basically all of the 1990s. He was hugely influential on a whole generation of theatre artists. He has performed all over the world, won lots of awards, etc. This is his story of returning to England after living in Canada for 10 years. I saw the workshop production of these monologues a couple of years ago and it’s really masterful storytelling. And it’s as cheap as borscht: $12 per play or $30 for the trilogy, so very affordable. I’ll be stage managing, so if you come to the show(s) I’ll see you. Here are the details:

 

And please stay posted. If you’re not already on the email list but would like to be, please sign up here. And there will be an invited reading of my new play, Deserter, this April. It’s not ready yet, but it will be.

Looking forward,

Daniel

October, 2014

October 22, 2014 Posted by Daniel

Hi, friends.

The Jewish/academic/theatre year is off to a great start. I’m slowly but surely working on my Deserter play, which I’ve been dropping hints about for the past year. The Russian play, Not in Our Family was a huge success and a really unique experience. And I have two projects coming up in the next week.

I’m performing Good People Bad Things in Toronto on Saturday, Oct 25 at 7:oopm at the College Street United Church.

And I’m going to be in a reading of Arthur Milner’s Facts, a murder-mystery set in the Palestinian West Bank, which has toured all over the world. The reading will be in Winnipeg on Wednesday, October 29 at 7:00pm in the Burns Classroom, 2nd floor of Artspace, 100 Arthur Street. Admission is free but donations are accepted.

If you’re in one of these cities, it would be great to see you!

Looking forward,

 

Daniel

GPBT at Prismatic (Dartmouth, NS) and upcoming projects…

August 6, 2014 Posted by Daniel

This winter, my friend and prolific photographer Leif Norman, told me I should be posting constantly on my website.

I said “But I’m not doing anything.”

He said “Yes you are!”

And he’s right. But what I meant was 1) I didn’t have any shows coming up

and 2) publishing things on the internet makes me super-anxious!

I realize Leif is right. I have been working on many projects, including this video for the SpiderWeb Project (but: see excuse #2). And I’ll add some other videos – a speech I made recently and some street theatre I did with Independent Jewish Voices (same page).

But, more importantly: I now have some shows coming up!

 

 

Good People Bad Things in Prismatic, Aug 21-24. Please invite your Haligonian and Dartmouthian friends! Actually, anyone on the East Coast.

Here’s the Facebook Page.

 

 

I’m co-directing a play in Winnipeg being produced by Jewish Child and Family Service. It’s called Not in Our Family and explores the subject of elder abuse. It’s in Russian with English subtitles. All the actors are volunteers from the Russian-speaking community. Sunday, Sept 7, 2:00pm at the Berney Theatre in Winnipeg. More info to come.

And I’m working on a new play called Deserter. An American soldier fighting in Iraq deserts and comes to Canada. I’m planning to finish the first draft and do a staged reading this October. More details to come.

Thanks for reading this post!

I will write another one soon. Much sooner than the summer of 2015. Probably.

Daniel

SummerWorks – great review from Mooney

August 13, 2013 Posted by Daniel

 

Today is my day off from the show, so I’m writing a blog post.

In July, I did 12 performances of Good People Bad Things in the Winnipeg Fringe. 484 people came out, out of a total capacity of 680 or so. And it went great. I’m really appreciating the experience  of performing this show – of sharing it with people. Here is a photo from the production. Also, be sure to check out out video trailers!

I am now in Toronto, performing at the amazing SummerWorks festival. I have had 3 shows so far. The audiences are great. The Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace is a really good venue for this show. And I have another 5 performances, August 14-18 if you’re in Toronto this week, it would be great to see you.

And check out this great review in Mooney on Theatre!

 

Daniel

SummerWorks – opening August 8th

August 2, 2013 Posted by Daniel

It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post. Lots going on. The latest: I performed Good People Bad Things in the Winnipeg Fringe to a total audience of 484 people. Thanks to everyone who came out and was a part of it!

Here is a video trailer made by Chris MacDonald of Abraxas Studios:

I’ll upload production photos from the Winnipeg run in the next couple of days.

And if you’re in Toronto, I hope to see you soon! Join our Facebook page!

And I never wrote a post about Magnetic North Theatre Festival, which I attended in June in Ottawa. It was great. Here’s a photo of me and my display booth at the Arts Marketplace:

As soon as I got back from Ottawa, I started rehearsals for Good People Bad Things. I have now been working on the show for more than 2 years. We have received a lot of reviews (4 stars from CBC and 4 stars from the Winnipeg Free Press) and preview articles. I leave Monday morning for Toronto. I’m about to send out an email about the show.

Looking forward,

Daniel

Video Trailers: Good People Bad Things

July 9, 2013 Posted by Daniel

This video trailer for Good People Bad Things was made by Chris MacDonald of the amazing Abraxas Studios.

I hope to see you at SummerWorks!

This video trailer for Good People Bad Things was made from archival video by Shira Newman, Angus Kohm and Stefanie Wiens (and found footage), and the song is My Father My King by Mogwai.

We hope to see you at the Winnipeg Fringe or SummerWorks!

Coming soon to a theatre near you…

June 7, 2013 Posted by Daniel

Welcome to the Moving Target Theatre Company website.

I’m in Ottawa, about to attend this year’s Magnetic North Theatre Festival. I attended for the first time last year, and it was a great way to plug into the national theatre scene and see some brilliant shows. I’m looking forward.

Speaking of things I’m looking forward to:

Moving Target will be presenting my latest solo-show, Good People Bad Things in:

The Winnipeg Fringe, July 17 – 28

8:30pm nightly at the MAP Studio, 100 Arthur St

and

Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival, August 8-18

at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace.
Also, I recently did an interview with the Playwrights Guild of Canada.For more info about Moving Target’s past and future activities, have a look around our website. And if you want to receive updates and announcements, join our mailing list

Daniel

 

Recent Activities

March 3, 2013 Posted by Daniel

I usually take down old posts, because this site is formatted as a blog, but it’s not really a blog and the information gets outdated. But if you’d checked this page in recent months, you would have found out that:

I went to Vancouver (thanks to the Canada Council and the Playwrights Guild of Canada‘s readings program) and did a staged reading of Good People Bad Things at one of Vancouver’s loveliest theatre venues, The Cultch (March 2013).

I did a reading of Good People Bad Things in Winnipeg as part of Israeli Apartheid Week at the U of Winnipeg (March 2013).

I went to Vancouver to attend the PuSh Festival (February 2013).

And I was in Norway House, Manitoba leading a Theatre for Living workshop with high school students (January, 2013).

And, of course, we premiered Good People Bad Things in Winnipeg, October 18 – 28, 2012 at the Rudolf Rocker Centre.

Thanks to everyone involved with each of these events.

And thank you for reading, it validates my existence.

 

Daniel

A new year

January 28, 2013 Posted by Daniel

Hi.

Welcome to the Moving Target Theatre Company website.

I am traveling this month. In early January, I was in Norway House, Manitoba, leading a

Theatre For Living workshop with high school students. Now I’m in Vancouver attending the PuSh Festival – I am seeing shows and last week I participated in a workshop led by UK-based performance artist Adrian Howells.

I’m also working on where, when and how we will next present Good People Bad Things. Stay tuned for more details. I hope to be ready to announce my summer plans soon.

Feel free to peruse the other pages of the website – there are summaries and photos of our past and current productions.

To receive email updates, sign up here.

Keep moving,

Daniel

The Future

November 12, 2012 Posted by Daniel

 

The premiere production of Good People Bad Things was a big success. The total audience, over our 12 performances, was 360 people.

We have posted production photos, our CBC review and our many previews and interviews.

Thanks to all who came out to see the show.

And now I’m working on the next stages of Good People Bad Things. I’m planning to continue performing it, and I’m in the process of sorting out where and when.

Stay tuned for updates. If you saw Good People Bad Things, feel free to post comments. And if you’re not yet on our email list, you can join it right here.

Daniel

September 16, 2012

September 16, 2012 Posted by Daniel

Today is the end of our third week of workshop/rehearsal.

And how’s the script coming? Well, slowly but surely. We got a lot done this week, although there is still a lot to do. Four more weeks till tech. It’s dense material, there’s lots of information, I’ve done a lot of writing since our first draft last October and the big question remains: How do we make it work, theatrically?

The good news is we took a look at our first draft, and it basically works, theatrically. So we went, “Oh. We’ve got a script! Worst comes to worst, we can just use that.” But, of course, we want to make it better. And we can. This week, I took a lot of the rewritten scenes and went back to the original versions. But a few things from the new versions are staying in. And a whole bunch of scenes have gone back to the simplicity and straightforwardness they had last fall, but with the story much improved. So all the work so far has been worthwhile. The script is, slowly but surely, getting to where it needs to be.

We’ve got all the pages laid out on the floor of the rehearsal hall (the Rocker at 91 Albert St), and I think it looks really cool, so here are some pictures.

Thanks for reading, and check back next Sunday for another update on the progress of Good People Bad Things, which will be playing October 18-28.

And we’ve got a Facebook Page. Join if you want. Invite your Friends.

And tonight is the beginning of the Jewish New Year. So Shana Tova – a healthy and happy new year.

Looking forward,

Daniel

 

 

big changes

September 9, 2012 Posted by Daniel

Hi everybody.

As you may have noticed, or as I may have told you by email, there are big changes going on at the Moving Target Theatre Company.

We’ve got a new email program, so I won’t have to spend hours cutting and pasting email addresses every time I send something out (if you’re not on the email list and you want to be, go to the Contact page). We’ve made all kinds of updates to the website. I attended the Magnetic North Theatre Festival and Summerworks in recent months. The plan is, in the next couple of years, to start bringing Moving Target’s original theatre creations to audiences beyond the Perimeter Highway. I may have to swim through the moat.

But most excitingly, I am back in the rehearsal hall with my friend, mentor and director/dramaturg, Chris Gerrard-Pinker. We’re creating a new one-man-show called Good People Bad Things. We spent a couple of weeks working on this project last June, then again last September, and now we have… just over 5 weeks to complete the script, rehearse it and get it up on its feet. The race is on!

Well, actually the race has been on for two weeks now. We started with 59 pages of material and we have generated many more pages. And it’s good material, it’s really interesting, even if it’s not quite a script yet. Yesterday, we sorted all the material into 6 piles. Chris said, “We need paperclips.”

I’m going to be using the home page of this website as a blog. One of my friends has even left a comment on one of the pages! You’re welcome to do the same, maybe it’s a trend that will catch on. Whether you do or not – keep checking this site – I’m planning to write something every Sunday. Who knows what will happen by next Sunday. I don’t think we’ll have a script, but I hope we’ll be well on our way.

Your moving target,

Daniel