History of The
"I had an
idea for a play
about two bachelor farmers, slightly isolated, whose lives are governed
by myth and ritual. The myths were in the stories they told each other,
the ritual consisted mainly of the preparation of the same meals, over
and over. I was interested in setting up their life, and seeing what
happen when society intrudes."
Drawer Boy takes its
inspiration from an historic chapter in Canadian theatre history. In
a group of young actors from Toronto embarked on a project where they
off to study an Ontario farming community. Actors lived with farm
in Clinton, Ontario, labored on those farms and collected stories from
the people they encountered.
stories were developed
into a collective theatrical piece called The Farm Show, which opened
Toronto's Theatre Passe Muraille, and later toured extensively
Canada, becoming a landmark theatrical event. The stories and songs in
The Farm Show grew out of the actors’ attempts to dramatize their
in daily improvisational sessions.
the results didn't
seem like a play: no lights, no set, a barn for a theatre and hay bales
for seats. It was simply pure performance. No one anticipated the
the local people would take in hearing their own language and observing
their own culture.
took on a life of its own and was a perfect example of documentary or
theatre - where artists enter communities and create works that speak
to and about the group from which they are derived.
Drawer Boy received its
World Premiere at Toronto's Theatre Passe Muraille - the same theatre
The Farm Show put on the map 27 years earlier. And here's the most
part: The Drawer Boy was directed by Miles Potter, an original cast
and co-creator of The Farm Show - whom Michael Healey used as his
inspiration for the fictional character of Miles in the play you are
to begin to lose
your memory, if only in bits and pieces, to realize that memory is what
makes our lives. Life without memory is no life at all. Our memory is
coherence, our reason, our feeling, even our action. Without it, we are
its causes and its consequences, both for the teller and the listener,
lies at the heart of Michael Healey's The Drawer Boy. If we want to
about a person we ask, "what's their story," or, "what's their real
if we feel we don't know the whole truth. And when memory fails us, we
must rely on the recollection of others to fill in the gaps in our own
farmers in this play,
lifelong friends and partners who depend solely on each other, lead
lives where storytelling is the best remedy for what ails them.
necessitate that they retell their life story almost daily. I was drawn
to this play because of their bond of friendship, their fierce loyalty,
and the manner in which it is tested. The appearance at their doorstep
of a young actor who wants to hold a mirror up to their lives provokes
a profound re-examination of the manner in which they care for each
and a discovery of what is really most important to them.
discoveries that allow them to come to new understandings about
change something basic in their behavior, and own their own stories.
play resonates as a meditation on the potential for theatre to provoke
change, to encourage healing, and to tell the truth.