Informal Upright

A Theatre Collective


Thank you for joining us at the staged reading of my play yesterday evening in Toronto. Holy shucks it was hot! 

Grosse Ile is a project that seems to be surfing the crest of my writerly insecurities. I usually feel something like ambivalence when writing a new play: enjoying the playground and the puzzle of the process. I think because the narrative and setting are so magnificently crucial to such a specific community I’ve given myself more pressure than I’m accustomed to. I’m collaborating in ways I’ve never done and, maybe, the dialogue is approaching a genre that I don’t often gravitate to. So I’m a bit more naked than usual. 

Which is why I’m so grateful to have had such a wonderful audience. Thank you. From the reception, it seems, Grosse Ile is at a stage right now where the audience likes it more than I do. My astoundingly enthusiastic collaborator (Karen MacLeod on music/composition) assures me that’s exactly as it should be. Which is also to say, there is work to be done.

If you weren’t there, we struck such a hyper-naturalism to shy Annie Baker. About five years ago I met Lynne Griffin at the Hamilton Fringe and, ever since, I’ve been searching for the opportunity to work with her. As the Pirate Life Toronto ship (our appropriately ambient venue) knocked and rocked the poor woman had to swallow her breakfast back down. Then she threw on a cape and continued the performance! Maintaining your motion-sickness until after the play is done is a fast path to humbling your playwright. I’m only sorry that I’m writing about dysentery at sea. What a champion! 

Informal Upright is a brand-new collective. This is only our second public appearance. Though we’ve known each other for years we are also in the process of developing a rhythm and shorthand to our collaboration. If my playwrighterly confidence is jostled by this process, my producerly confidence is doubled by my team. I’m proud to play a part in showing the world how incredible Shawn and Sukhpreet are. 

I also must acknowledge our incredible board member Damien Nelsonwho was pulling small supports for us at every turn all week. How did we do so well to nab her? 

And of course, thank you to the Pirate Life team for providing us with their incredible venue on the water.

I entered a relationship with this play telling myself that my challenges in writing it will make the work stronger. But there comes a point where that stops feeling good. So I’m humbled by your support, by your thoughtful feedback, and by having the role to write it at all. Here’s to the story’s next breaths and to all the gifts that Informal Upright gestates for you. 

~ Ciarán