Placeholder canvas
Monday, July 22, 2024

David French’s Leaving Home returns to a Halifax stage after a five-decade absence

Matchstick Theatre presents Leaving Home at Breaking Circus from March 20-31.

Considered a ground-breaking piece of Canadian theatre when David French wrote Leaving Home over five decades ago, according to Matchstick Theatre’s artistic and show director, Jake Planinc, it has been nearly as long since the play last appeared on a Halifax stage. That is about to change as the indie theatre company presents Leaving Home this month.

French’s semi-autobiographical approach allows audiences to connect deeply with the tensions between parents and children, the quest for identity, and the transformative nature of leaving home. – Jake Planinc

“The play has a special place in Canadian theatre history as the first Canadian play to tour the country extensively back in the early seventies,” he says. “However, it hasn’t been staged professionally in Halifax for 51 years, which is quite puzzling considering its relevance and impact.”

Planinc attributes some of the play’s absence on stage to a Canadian theatre-going community, which doesn’t always hold its homegrown plays in higher regard as it does with the American or English theatre canon.

“Canadian playwriting as we know it now hasn’t been around for very long, so I think that we don’t think of these plays like those we read in school or get taught,” he says. “But I feel like maybe my generation is different, and we see these plays in a special light and hold them with this extra reverence.”

Delving into the intricacies of family dynamics, Leaving Home is the story of the Mercer family as they navigate relationships and identity.

“It’s the story of the Mercer family joining the Jackson family on the eve of Billy Mercer’s wedding to Kathy Jackson,” explains Planinc. “The play explores the children’s relationships with their parents, how they define themselves in relation to them, and the inevitable changes that come when one leaves home.”

Matchstick Theatre's artistic director, Jake Planinc, says Leaving Home has a special place in Canadian theatre.
Matchstick Theatre’s artistic director, Jake Planinc, says Leaving Home has a special place in Canadian theatre.

While French wrote his play in 1972 and set it in 1958, Planinc says Leaving Home will resonate with audiences today, which he attributes to the playwright’s ability to capture universal themes through specific lived experiences.

“French’s semi-autobiographical approach allows audiences to connect deeply with the tensions between parents and children, the quest for identity, and the transformative nature of leaving home,” he says. “These themes are as relevant today as they were when the play was first produced.”

Matchstick Theatre’s production of Leaving Home promises to offer audiences a unique and intimate experience. “We’re staging the play in the round, providing a close-up view of the Mercer household,” reveals Planinc. “This immersive setting allows audiences to feel like they’re peering into the lives of the characters, experiencing every nuance and emotion up close.”

Thanks to Wesley Babcock's design for the Leaving Home set, audiences will get up close and personal. Photo by Stoo Metz.
Thanks to Wesley Babcock’s design for the Leaving Home set, audiences will get up close and personal. Photo by Stoo Metz.

The production boasts a cast of seasoned actors and a team of award-winning designers, including set designer Wesley Babcock, lighting designer Alison Crosby and costume design by Kaelen MacDonald, dedicated to authentically bringing 1958 Toronto to life on stage.

“Every detail, from costumes to set pieces, meticulously reflects the time period,” says Planinc. “This dedication to authenticity enhances the play’s accessibility and relatability, drawing audiences into the world of the Mercers.”

Calling it “a perfectly written realist drama,” Planinc was also taken by how the story unfolds.

“I absolutely love that it’s a straight shot of real-time,” he says. “It’s an hour and a half of straight real-time with a pause in the middle, which is literally like a freeze frame, and you pick right back up in the second act.”

With its timeless themes and unique staging in this production, Planinc guarantees “an unforgettable theatrical experience that will resonate with audiences on a profound level.”

Matchstick Theatre presents Leaving Home at Breaking Circus (2164 Barrington St, Halifax) from March 20 to 31. Visit matchsticktheatre.ca for tickets and information.

Join the Discussion

Follow Us on Social Media

2,593FansLike
1,160FollowersFollow
681FollowersFollow
- Advertisement -

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -