Scott Florence has put his own ideas on the backburner for a long time.
The actor and artistic director of A Company of Fools is one of the busier performers in Ottawa. While he admits that’s not a bad thing, he was thrilled to be selected as one of eight local theatre artists to take part in the Great Canadian Theatre Company’s Playmakers’ Society Works-in-Progress.
In addition to being a great experience, it has given him that extra “kick in the pants” to write his own solo work — a character clown and mask piece called Cross which he will perform tonight.
“I’m always thinking ‘I’ve got to sit down and write that,’ so now I have had a reason to really focus on that,” explains Florence. “And work with so many great people who I can bounce ideas off of and who help shape the piece.”
One of those people is Daniel Mroz, Florence’s mentor in the unique theatre project. He and the other actors were matched with theatre professionals from the Ottawa area, including Pierre Brault, John Koensgen and Paula Danckert.
The idea began more than a year ago, created by GCTC artistic director Lise Ann Johnson and actor Christie Watson, as a way to get local performers working together, and seeking input from their audiences.
The pieces to be performed this weekend are in various stages of development, and the creators are hoping for candid feedback from those who come to see the shows.
“I’m really looking for good feedback and finding out what strikes a chord with people, and what parts don’t resonate as well,” explains actor and writer Lisa Twardowska, who will perform her piece I Was Here tomorrow.
She describes it as a “somewhat dark” play about a woman reflecting back in the final hour of her life.
Twardowska says the process was a pleasantly challenging one, as she focused heavily on the text of the piece, diverging from her usual expertise in movement-based theatre.
Providing artists with the freedom to explore something new was one of the main ideas behind the project, explains Todd Duckworth, presentation coordinator for the series.
“We really didn’t know what we were going to get when we started, so this is exciting for everyone involved,” he says.
“And we really want the audience to be involved too. This is a chance to shoot your mouth off publicly and who doesn’t love to do that?”
The Playmakers’ Society Works—in-Progress series runs tonight at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Studio Theatre of the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre, at Holland and Wellington. Admission is free on first-come, first-served basis. For more info visit www.gctc.ca.
After covering hard news for a few years, Kim discovered her real passion – writing about the wonderful world of music, theatre, visual arts and literature.