Happy Birthday, Ms. Simone…

The year before I was born, Nina Simone covered one of the greatest songs ever written. Billie Holiday first performed STRANGE FRUIT in 1939. Written by a teacher by the name of Abel Meeropol as a poem, STRANGE FRUIT is a song about the lynching of African Americans in the South. Holiday did a beautiful recording of the song, but SIMONE OWNED it. The melancholy in her voice as she sings those terrible words in such a beautiful way is enough to make a rock break down and cry. It’s an important song. Simone’s voice bleeds tragic through its words. You can find her recording of STRANGE FRUIT on the album Pastel Blues. Simone recorded many, many tunes…but this one…this one will always be her signature piece for me. Before I heard it, I had no idea one could live and die with a song. Simone would be 80 years-old today.

Happy Birthday, Beautiful Lady.


Today is a NINA SIMONE kind of day…

To the Castle! Driftwood Strikes Again!

Just a few shots from inside and out of Trafalgar Castle in Whitby, Ontario. These are shots I took while staying in the castle to write plays for Trafalgar24, the yearly play creation festival put on by Driftwood Theatre. I wrote in the castle for the 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 festivals. This year, I will be purely a spectator.

Six playwrights will be locked in the castle on Thursday, March 7th. They will each be sent to a particular room in the castle—in which their plays must take place. They will each be given photos of their actors. Then they must write their plays! When they are released on the morning of Friday, March 8th, there will be 6 freshly written plays left behind. Like the Elf and the Shoemaker!

On the morning of Friday, March 8th the directors and actors will arrive at the castle. They will rehearse the newly penned plays and on the evening of Friday, March 8th the audience (MYSELF INCLUDED!) will arrive to see performances of all six plays. The audience will then vote on our favourites.

Winning playwright gets to develop his or her Trafalgar24 play into a full-length play through Driftwood.

This is a yearly event…and I guarantee you it is the VERY BEST that Durham Region has to offer! If you haven’t gotten your tickets yet, you better do so before they are sold out. Happens every single year! Here’s a link:


A hearty (and heartfelt) thank you to Jeremy Smith and the Driftwood crew for giving me my first opportunities to write for the stage. I feel like Trafalgar24 was one of my biggest gifts as a writer. Without Driftwood giving me a chance to dip my toes into playwriting, I would not have found this passion I’m so crazy about. I can’t wait to see what this year’s crop of playwrights come up with for Trafalgar24. Guaranteed we’ll be entertained.