Does anyone remember the playwright N.F. Simpson? (1919-2011) I was thinking of him the other day and I'll tell you why in a minute, but i looked him up to check dates and so on. I saw one of his plays (maybe two?) at the Manitoba Theatre Centre (now Royal). Founding director John Hirsch taught his Prairie audiences about the world of theatre beyond Canada. So I saw One-Way Pendulum (written in 1959), and I don't remember it. But little as I remember about the plot (if any) I do remember one thing. Simpson was hailed by the critic Kenneth Tynan as "the most gifted comic writer (to emerge) on the English stage since the war." He was ranked among the great playwrights of the Absurd (Ionesco, Beckett, etc.) I never liked him as well. I thought a lot of the Absurd was like the Emperor and his invisible clothes. I didn't get it. And yet I remember this.
Frances Hyland was a Canadian actress, famous at one time, a regular (star) at the Stratford Festival, touring Canada for several years with the Canadian Players so she was well-known. Difficult to find now, Franny, as I knew her, died too soon. (1927-2004) No RRSP then, no benefits; actors (like writers) led a precarious life. She was one of the first occupants that I knew of the PAL house in Toronto (Performing Arts Lodge), a residence with independent apartments for which retired artists pay what they can. In Franny's case and that of other ealy Canadian artists, their payments were pretty low. I diverge like this because I had a little trouble finding Franny.
But she was the star of the Simpson play I saw and - this is what I remember - she came into the scene and her hosts offered her refreshment and she chose a book of poetry. She read a little, wiped her mouth and said she felt much better. That's what I remember. See, I do that. I did that this past week - that's why I was referring to Ruth Stone a few blogs ago. I pulled a couple of others and I'll get to them - maybe. But there I was, wiping my mouth after a taste of Stone, thinking of Franny and of N.F.Simpson.
Curious thing about Simpson. He stopped his theatre work in 1983 and for twelve years poked around the canals of England in a boat.
It ain't over till it's over.