this is the year that was

It began with a fireplace, January, 2016, and I’ll miss it, still haven't figured out where to find a fire. I’ll have one a little longer than usual in December because I will stay a little longer than usual with my daughter and son-in-law in Boston (Quincy) and, like me, he is a pyromaniac, And of course there is the Fireplace Channel on TV, with a satisfying fire noise, if not the smokey smell.

Sp there I was at a spa for a couple of nights to greet the coming year, my chief NY resolution being to write a film-ready screenplay, and that has been the defining purpose of the year, - with lots of interruptions, interludes, tangents and delays.

The first interlude occurred the third week of January when I enjoyed a week in London going to theatre (7 productions), and a couple of art galleries with backstage chats with actors, lectures by critics (one for theatre, one for Shakespeare, one for politics; Brexit wasn’t a word and hadn’t happened yet). The whole tour was laid on by the Stratford Festival (Canada) for a few of its prime donors, first come, first served. I’m a very low prime but I donate more than I can to try to compensate for the freebies I receive to every production in the Festival’s season (my posthumous perk because my husband died in harness, as it were). I went alone and paid the single supplement but the small group comprises like-minded people so it’s not hard to fid someone to talk to. A bonus this year was meeting someone I liked better than myself (my mother’s expression and a good gauge of the people you see). A new friend! Rare at my age. We will be rooming together this coming january (2017!) on a similar West End indulgence.

The first delay, a major one, not to say an obstacle, occurred 24 hours after I returned. I fell onto a footstool in my own home and ripped open my lower leg, a deep, wide gash to the shinbone. There went the next three months: three months before i could swim again, just given clearance to travel two and a half months later, only two days before plane time (Toronto to Tahiti, two long flights to start off) and then with compression stockings and wheelchairs ordered at every airport.

And I had a screenplay to write.

My computer friend, guide, mentor and guru, transferred my Screenwriter program to my laptop so that I could sit in a chair with a support to keep my leg elevated and promote its healing process. Took a while though; it got infected and I was four times to the Emergency Ward, first time by ambulance when it happened, subsequent trips to see a Wound Specialist who ordered antibiotics (four different, increasing strengths) and a Community Care nurse to come every other day to inspect the wound and change the dressing. I also received tender care from my granddaughter, the doctor, and my daughter-in-law, .R.N., administrator of a rehab hospital, who wanted to make sure I wouldn’t end up at her hospital learning to walk with one leg.

I “finished” a skeletal screenplay before i flew away - inadequate, to say the least. That project remained a leif motif during the entire year, which I had better summarize more succinctly because you and I both have better things to do today than to recap my life in 2016.

So - Stratford: as I told you, I receive freebies to every production and I manage to get to most of them, buying an extra ticket when needed so that I can accompany friends who drive. Without a car, I take trains, or buses, or the Festival Special bus that commutes between Toronto and Stratford during the season. It all takes a lot of time, entertaining, stimulating and sometimes challenging. The most rewarding, dazzling, shattering challenge of the year for me, though, was the trilogy that played during Luminato, the Toronto cultural festival that just finished its tenth year, I believe. The trilogy is a set of three separate plays about the Jameses of Scotland: James I, James II and James III. Written by a young (57 is young to me), award-winning Scottish woman, Rona Munro, who might be familiar to Canadian television audiences as the writer of the 10th season of the Dr. Who series, this production of the National Theatre of Scotland (“3 Scottish kings; 3 modern plays; 1 epic theatre trilogy”) blew my mind. I wrote a blog about it; I will write more, I’m sure.

I took a few more trips. I was 85 in February. I was going to throw a big party for myself but realised that the people I most wanted to see were either dead or too weak to come to me. So I set out to see them. It brought home the real significance of the phrase “bucket list”. Some of my friends died before i got to them. Learn from this. Don’t put off until next year or some day what you can do now. Some day is too late.

And so it went. I began to teach - at my age!! I taught a one-off on Character Development in the spring followed in November by a 4-week workshop/seminar on Playwriting with Peter Brook as the inspiration. This was for ACT II, the Senior playwriting program at Ryerson University. One has to be 50 or over to take the course and that was delightful for me. My students were old enough to recognize most of my references.

Now here I am, behind, as usual, in my Christmas plans. I just received feedback from our director on the latest draft of the screenplay. I called it penultimate but it may be further from finished than I had thought. I’ll add it to my New Year’s Resolutions.

We go on we go on.