David James Brock

playwright, poet, librettist

David James Brock is a Canadian playwright, poet and librettist. Author of poetry collection, Everyone is CO2. Librettist for Scottish pub opera, The Sloans Project. Co-creator of Breath Cycle, an opera for cystic fibrosis.

Making an Old Play New

My new play Snow Bride opens tonight and will run until May 18 at the Box Toronto (see details on my Events Page).

Snow Bride is a new play, but an old play—one which I began writing specifically for Katie Hood for the 2006 Uno Festival of Solo Performance in Victoria, BC when the only thing I wrote was plays—when I was focused on being a “serious playwright” with all that entailed (e.g. scowling, jaw clenching, scarf wearing). Around this time, my friend Russell Reilander would say, “Dave has entered his blue period.”

Russ and I at a UVic bar playing pool in 2004 or 2005.

Russ and I at a UVic bar playing pool in 2004 or 2005.

The play, then called Toasting the Snow Bride, ended up being performed 20 or so times at various festivals across Canada. We slept on couches, ran our own tech, postered and stapled handbills to popsicles during fringe heat waves (this was pre-Facebook events)...

Car trouble outside the venue in Winnipeg.

Car trouble outside the venue in Winnipeg.

We played to audiences of a 100+ (thank you, Victoria) and an audience of four (a 5 pm show in London, ON during Rib Fest) all the while meeting people who would become friends, collaborators, Facebook friends, and mentors. We learned. A lot. Every show. And then… we put Helena in a drawer, with the intent to come back to her. 

Portrait of a young artist wearing a scarf.

Portrait of a young artist wearing a scarf.

When I originally wrote Snow Bride, Katie and I were both in our mid 20s (younger than Helena) and now, we’re both in our mid 30s (older than Helena). I’m not sure that means I’m any wiser, but I’d go out on a limb and say that eight years later, I haven’t gotten any dumber when it comes to this particular play.

Six months ago, I asked Katie if we should revisit Helena—an updated Helena—on our own. No reliance on getting into festivals, no waiting for permission, but please: no nostalgia. Let’s be a (mid 30s) punk band and remember what it’s like put on our own show (I keep mentioning Sonic Youth, Katie keeps mentioning Bad Religion).

Let’s find out what can we give Helena that we couldn’t the first time. What have we learned that she still hasn’t?

But I had forgotten how hard it was to spend time with Helena. Helena is an addict. She is a liar. In isolating her, in writing her, I am begging her to tell the truth. We all know someone like Helena. We all avoid someone like Helena. And in revisiting Helena almost a decade after we first met, I am reminded that sometimes, it takes a little time to get a thing right. 

I’m really excited to look back a little, to revisit Helena (and work with Katie Hood), and to get a chance to travel way way back to that golden age of 2006. I hope you get the chance to come see one of the shows.

Katie and I post-show at Kings Head Pub in Winnipeg. And we wondered why people though we were a couple...

Katie and I post-show at Kings Head Pub in Winnipeg. And we wondered why people though we were a couple...

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The program will start with a twenty-minute featured performance by Rachelle Elie, an award-winning comedienne who has been showcased on The Comedy Network and The Women’s Television Network.

Dates and times:

  • Thursday, May 8 to Saturday, May 10 at 8 p.m.
  • Thursday, May 15 to Saturday, May 17 at 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, May 18 at 2 p.m.

Tickets:

Location:

  • The Box Toronto (89 Niagara Street, Toronto)