I am Green Eggs and Ham. I am Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I am Little Women. I am The Great Gatsby. I am Tartuffe.
I don’t know if all writers are the same or not. But for me, there were always signposts along the way. I know precisely the signposts that gave me direction to the writer I have become.
- Green Eggs and Ham
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Little Women
- The Great Gatsby
These are the stepping stones I climbed to get here. These are the cornerstones that support the burden of my creative existence.
I vividly recall the electricity I felt when, at first, Green Eggs was read to me by my father. I wanted to be this. Whatever this was. I could not yet voice the thing, but I knew. With all my heart, I knew.
I remember first opening Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. His grandparents all in the bed. The family’s squalor and despair. Charlie’s compassion and passion for the world. I wanted to capture that. But I couldn’t yet put into words how I would go about doing that. I just knew that it had something to do with creation.
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. I was granted a window into their lives. That window allowed for heartache, sorrow, joy, wonder. That I could feel all these emotions simply by reading words on a page. It was alchemy. I wanted to be that kind of a magician. I wanted to control the emotions of others with words.
East Egg. West Egg. Glamour. Lights. One little light, shining beacon-like across the water. Nick Carraway, the gentle observer of decadence. Removed, enticed, sickened. Gatsby became the template from which I have judged all novels since. None stand strong against it, though a great many have come close. You remember your first. That first moment when you know you have met with perfection. Even flawed perfection is made perfect by your own adulation of the thing. No matter the flaws that have been or will be pointed out to me in The Great Gatsby, it will always be that book. I will forever aspire to write THAT book.
With the exploration of words in full throttle, came the search for the perfect play. I had already read A Streetcar Named Desire. I was pretty sure I would not find another. It was my play. Then, somewhere between ninth and tenth grade, maybe. My memory fades. I stumbled upon a book called Tartuffe & Other Plays. Molière. First performed in the Palace of Versailles in 1664. Scorned by the Catholic Church. French. Paris (my lifelong love of the city drew me to anything in its periphery). I quickly discovered that pretty much ANY and ALL creative works frowned upon by the laughably reprehensible Catholic Church ended up being something I admired and liked. The swirling controversy surrounding Tartuffe made it REQUIRED reading for me. I read more about the play before reading the play than I ever read about anything prior to reading the thing for myself. The controversy surrounding Tartuffe when it first came out, culminated in the Archbishop of Paris announcing an edict warning anyone who watched it, read it, or performed in it total excommunication from the church. That’s serious shit. Then I read the play. And I laughed. And I laughed. And I laughed.
These are the books and creative works that formed me as a writer. My signposts, my evolution, my muses of creativity. I mention them today because of a little incident that happened on the way home from work yesterday. Or, perhaps not even an incident…but a happenstance. As I drove by the Scarborough Music Theatre (and I think Community Centre—I never really paid attention to what the building was) at Markham and Kingston Roads, I noticed a sign that has been there forever. On it was flashing the word Tartuffe. It rose above the din and caught my eye as it was meant to do. I got instantly and ridiculously excited. In all the years of re-reading the play, I had never actually seen it performed. It had never once come to life for me outside the page. Long story, short (too late)…I secured tickets for opening night. 353 years after its original opening night, I am attending a performance of TARTUFFE! Writers are such geeks, aren’t we?
From the theatre website:
The description of the play, from the Scarborough Theatre Guild’s Website:
It is 1699 in Paris and Tartuffe, claiming to be a religious man, is living as a guest in the home of Orgon. His true goal is to acquire his host’s fortune and to seduce his wife. Most of Orgon’s family can see through Tartuffe’s pretense at holiness. Orgon, however, is completely fooled and offers his so-called “friend” all his property and marriage to his only daughter. It is up to Orgon’s faithful wife, Elmire, to expose the evil of their hypocritical house guest.
Recommended for ages 14 and up.
March 10*, 11, 16, 17, 18, 23 and 24 at 8:00pm
March 12, 19 and 25 at 2:00pm.
*A wine and cheese reception will follow the opening night performance on March 10th.
Regular tickets: $22
For detailed ticket information, please see the Box Office page
I wonder if all writers have their building blocks to how they got there…to writer. Do they remember each stepping stone? Do they honour those stones? Do they revisit them? Do they aspire to them?
I’m going to TARTUFFE! If you’re in the area, it’s not too late to get tickets (see above). I promise, you will laugh at this farce. Yesterday was a good day. I see a lot of names in lights, but seeing Tartuffe rise up out of the din of my advertising-thick commute was a godsend I’ll not soon forget. It’s silly, but to see a production of Tartuffe has been an almost life-long dream. As Julia Roberts (as VIVIAN) said to Richard Gere (as EDWARD) in Pretty Woman BEFORE their evening out, I will NOW say to the performers at SCARBOROUGH THEATRE GUILD.
“In case I forget to tell you later, I had a really good time tonight.”