Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Northern Ontario

Magdalena, JD and Carolyn at the mouth of the Pic River.  We did three shows in Northern Ontario - Sault Ste Marie, Marathon and Ignace, with truly AMAZING billets all the way! These folks have all redefined hospitality.  Winnipeg is up next over the Canada Day weekend - our first show in a professional theatre space at the Park Theatre on Saturday night.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A story from Sault Ste Marie

We had an audience of twelve - a lovely, intimate, warm, interactive audience. After the show, I met a 94-year-old man, a retired vicar, in a wheelchair, who had come to our show. He sang along with the music he recognized and after the show I went down to meet him.

He said he liked it very much, only he didn't understand the singing and the dancing. Not the he disliked it, only that he couldn't quite understand what was happening. I told him that it was alright that he didn't understand it, that confusion was a valid response to some of our scenes, and that some, especially the movement piece, weren't meant to be understood in a certain way but simply received as one does individually. He nodded and smiled, and gave me the impression, in a very friendly way, that there was something about the world that he understood and that I hadn't quite. But he liked me, and asked me to help him with his coat and hat.

Later my billets told me that he had come on his own to our show - arranged for the parabus to bring him and pick him up, had organized his trip entirely on his own. I marvelled at this independent spirit, this 94-year-old man, to whom coming to our show was so important that he arranged for himself to be brought there, alone.

I wish now that I had asked for his name.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Science North

While we were in Sudbury, some of the cast took the opportunity to venture to Science North.  There we saw animatronic dinosaurs, lay on a bed of nails, tested our fitness and much more!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

SSJD and Toronto

Since our drive from Ottawa we have stayed with the Sisterhood of St. John the Divine in Toronto. They opened their doors, their hearts, and their hands, and let us in to their lifestyle and community. We have been deliciously fed, and allowed (deliciously) to sleep in, to wander labyrinths, to attend services, and come and go at all hours... We feel rejuvenated, I think, ready to go on with the tour after a much needed rest. A most sincere thank you to the sisters for their love and care.

Yesterday was our day off and we first wandered in the distillery district (beautiful and quaint and very expensive), then went to the beach and enjoyed the sun. Last night the ladies went to Tryst for a bra party (exactly what it sounds like) and learned a lot about ladies' underwear. For example, did you know that it takes 25 hand sewn parts to make a bra? That's why the good ones are so expensive. While we tried on lingerie, JD and Melissa went to see Robin Hood. It got a good review!

 At the Distillery District in Toronto

Today we are off to Sudbury. It is raining again. It has rained absolutely every travelling day since the beginning of this tour. We arrive somewhere in sun, get sun for the days we are there, and it begins to rain the morning we leave the place. By the time we reach our destination, we are out of the rain, until we leave again.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Westward Bound!

Props? Check. Sound system? Check. Suitcases? Check. Full tank? Check. Carolyn? Check!
Okay we’re good to go!
Barring any unforeseen delays, such as, pointless traffic jams, excessive rain, or car accidents, and rushing through those few foreseen ones, including but not limited to, the diminutive size of Karyn’s bladder, we should be in Toronto by 17:00 tonight.
During our second stay in Ontario’s capital, we will be performing at St. Ansgard’s, enjoying silent meals with the Sisters of St. John the Divine, having a night out on the town, going to the beach, and going to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame! No? Anyone? *sigh*
At any rate, it will be a fun filled, if slightly busy, few days before we ship off to Sudbury on Tuesday morning continuing our westward trek. There will be some sadness as we leave the East farther and farther behind. We’ve created here, premiered here, half of us live here, and the reception we’ve had has been great! Parades, parties, penthouse suites... okay, okay, it hasn’t been quite so extravagant, but the people we’ve met here have been wonderfully kind, extremely hospitable, and lots of fun to be with. We had the most amazing time, and we thank you all profusely!
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that there’s this woman on youtube, and you should come see our Toronto show, and you should come see our Sudbury show, and hockey is awesome, and if you are receiving us out west, the bar has been set pretty high, but no pressure!

                                                           On the road again...


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

On The Road!

We worked hard last night and this morning, sorting out tour responsibilities, packing lists, assigning roles and tasks.  We finally have a full tour schedule too - link is on the left column.

It was fun tracing it out across a big map of Canada and thinking - 'that's where we're going!' (or, 'that's how FAR we are going???')

Look for this Big White Van - coming soon to a city/town near you!  Thursday night, June 17 is our performance in Montreal at St James downtown, followed by Ottawa on Friday night, and Toronto on Sunday June 20.  Look for details and addresses of the different venues in the tour schedule.

Destination - Vankleek Hill.  We wonder if we will be THIS excited to be in the van in 5 weeks time?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Story from a Tim Horton's at St Mary's University in Halifax

- Magdalena Jennings 
This happened a few days ago, but I thought I'd share it with you; 
Before our performance at Synod, I spent an afternoon in the cafeteria replying to emails concerning my “normal life” and typing up a monologue that I just couldn’t put my finger on quite yet. I believe, in fact, that it was the day before our performance, and here I was, desperately sorting out potential roommates for my apartment in September and trying to feign some semblance of organization concerning an event at my university in October, while trying to figure out why it was that I couldn’t memorize, or even fully understand the monologue I had written, and which I had to perform the next day. In short, I was getting very, very stressed. Father Elliot Siteman was just returning from the afternoon service, and caught sight of my distressed visage. 

Father Elliot: Magdalena, are you okay?
Me: Yes.
FE: You look stressed.
Me: Well, I am, a bit. I mean, I am stressed, but I am okay.
FE: gestures to his bag. I’ve got Jesus in my bag.
Me: What?
FE takes out a bottle of wine, a silver chalice, and some wafers
Me: Oh.
FE: Would you like to take communion?
Me: What, now?
FE: Yep.
Me: Okay... well.... let me close my laptop.
FE performs communion, with all the proper prayers. People in the cafeteria alternately stare and ignore. Me is at first very amused (perhaps too amused) but forces a straight face.
FE: There. Didn’t that make you feel better?
Basically, it did. And at first I thought it was silly (who ever heard of communion in a cafeteria?, and besides, it was the first time anyone had served me communion privately), but when I thought about it – this is what communion is about, right? It is about bringing love to those who are in need, who feel they are drowning, who need a hand, no matter how petty the matter is. We are there for each other because we belong together, and we all need to stay healthy and happy. Taking communion in the cafeteria was for me a symbol that someone cared, and that brought a calm within me. Thank you, Elliot. The monologue sorted itself out quite easily afterwards.
This is Elliott.  He doesn't always carry around consecrated communion elements in a bag, but when he does, he'll share it with you anywhere!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Last look at Newfoundland

Quidi Vidi, Jenny holds a sea star for the first time EVERRR, Feet in the Atlantic Ocean (we expect another similar photo at the end of the tour and....

The last one cries out for a caption contest.   The winner gets a Roots Among the Rocks TShirt!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cape Spear

On the Easternmost point in North America!  With our lovely billets who are having a great time showing us why they love to call this place home.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Roots on "The Rock"

We're in Newfoundland!

Our show last night at the Parish of the Ascension in Mount Pearl was great, despite a fire alarm going off at one point but we were really well received by the audience.

For those of us (uh, almost ALL of us?) who have never been to Newfoundland before, the HIGHLIGHT of our day was the visit to Signal Hill and a tour of the city.  Awesome!  Melissa has not stopped smiling.  Our billets are lovely and providing us with wonderful Newfoundland hospitality.

Tonight, a performance at St Mark's Church in St John's, then we will be leading part of the morning service back at Ascension tomorrow morning; performing the part of the show where we explore 1 Corinth. 12 ('the body has many members...').

Monday is a day off to be tourists, and then we leave super early on Tuesday morning to fly back to Ontario to begin the cross country tour.  We get our van on Tuesday - the home away from home vehicle that is going to take us from Montreal to Victoria!

Jenny waits, at Halifax airport

Melissa basks - on the rocks in Newfoundland

JD and the ATLANTIC 

Windy Signal Hill!

Carolyn looks out

Cast.  Ashore.  On a Rock.

Peter, JD, Jenny and Karyn make a scene.  
We are exactly one thousand six hundred and nineteen kilometres away from our show this coming Thursday - at St James the Apostle in Montreal... 
...And five thousand and thirty one kilometres from our performance on July 23 in Vancouver...

...But so far, the journey along the way is absolutely fantastic.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Did they like it?

Pictures tell the story!

Today the cast had the day off to sleep, do laundry, fill in a university application, see friends in town, go out, ride the Harbour Hopper, catch up on emails, visit a bookstore, a health store and - did I leave anything out?  Tomorrow we leave for St John's Newfoundland and we are just a little excited.  See the tour schedule link on the left to find out when and where our shows are 'on the rock'.

Is a Video version of Roots Among the Rocks available?

Yes!  We will have a video version available by the fall.  There are production and copyright things to sort out, but yes, it will be available for purchase.  We will put the information on the blog as it becomes available.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


"I loved it!"

"I have never cried at a theatre performance before."

"SO amazing."

"It was extremely professional."

"To go from madrigal to rap was incredible."

"If you sear my soul any more, I think I will disintegrate."

"That was challenging and disturbing - I really liked it!"

"Did they REALLY write that in one month?"

"Everyone will see something of themselves in this play: rural/urban, anglo-catholic, evangelical - everyone  will see their story somewhere in this play."

"That is the most profound theology I have heard in a very long time."

"There are so many parts that are SO funny!"

"Simple and moving - that was great."

"Absolutely BRILLIANT.  Well done, the entire audience was mesmerized.  So very many thanks to you all."

"I was incredibly impressed by the performance of the group at GS 2010.  I had to watch it through internet streaming so I can imagine it must have been mind-blowing in person!"

"There are no words."

These are just some of the comments received by the cast and production team in the hours after the play.  A number of new locations (some tentative, as folks here check on details back home) have been added to the schedule and some further details included about specific times and dates.

Meanwhile, here are a few photos of today's performance:

Judy and Jenny introduce the show.

The opening jazz riff, written by Magdalena

Having our faces on the big screens at the front of the room was a little disconcerting at first, but we just focused on the show ignored the screens.  But, we heard that the webcast coverage was great, so the slight awkwardness was worth it.

In a segment called "God is love", a young woman describes how she came back to the church after a long time away, and lots of unanswered questions.

In a powerful scene about St Augustine's third conversion, Karyn is wrapped in a lycra cloth as St Augustine symbolically wrestles - trapped by inner demons.

Today's the day...

It's our premiere today!!

The dress rehearsal yesterday felt great, and we are SO pumped about this morning.  Dennis Hayes said to us "It's not a premiere, it's your work.   It is God's work"  And with that grounding, (and with a special message from the Primate for the company) we go into this morning's performance really excited to show everyone what we have created and what we will be bringing to their communities.

Photos later today!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Poetry reviews? Wow!

Dennis Hayes and his wife Dinny came to the preview show in Toronto on Thursday.  (Dennis was with us for a day back in early May to help us consider the stories we were working with).  Yesterday, Dinny wrote and sent us a reflection/poem that she had written about the show.


    on the chancel steps
the players speak their text
     voices raised in doubt
       sorrow or discovery
            litany of quest
               and trial

    people's stories told
   with compassion whole
    breath for panting heart
body freed by touch and dance
             to connect
              and heal

      ancient words of faith
       insinuate their truth
     joining voices weighed
with all the freight of separate selves
               in harmony
                 with all

         broken healers meld
       embracing self and world
  with open hands and arms flung wide
           Christ is all in all
              the Body one
                 we dwell

                           Dinny Hayes

Thank you Dinny - this inspires us so much for our premiere which, we admit, we are both excited and nervous about.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Early Reviews...

We had a couple of "dress rehearsal with an audience" performances over the past days - Guelph on Wednesday and Toronto on Thursday.  Here are a couple of audience comments to whet your appetite:

"Thanks for the blessing of being there for the rehearsal last night! I think the play is a blast, it knocked my socks clear into next week!"

"What am I taking away? That there is a God-shaped hole in our church which is filled when the totality of who we are is welcomed in.  Wow."

"My wife would tell you that I have a low threshold for boredom in plays and theatre.  But this?  I was hooked, riveted and totally drawn in, right from the start until the end.  It was over way too fast.  I loved it."

"It is awesome"