As a director I’m used to making carefully orchestrated events happen, but I couldn’t quite pull it off on my wedding day. Moments before I walked down the aisle, I flushed the eight-foot gossamer ribbon on the back of my dress straight down the toilet. Yep. Right into the pipes. I only knew I did it because it actually pulled me backwards in the stall.
When you take a high stress event like a wedding and add all of the random possibilities that ensue by inviting 300 people to watch you eat food you don’t usually eat and wear clothes you don’t usually wear, mishaps are inevitable for the bride and groom. But what about the guests? In this three-tier-high confection by Kristen Thomson, the bride and groom are secondary characters, and it’s the invitees who turn into guest-zillas. This wide-ranging and totally unpredictable gathering of family and friends is bound to ignite some fireworks, and I can’t think of a better assembly than Chris Abraham’s brilliant cast and creative team to bring the insanity of one of our most beloved and bedeviled rituals to the national stage.
I hope you enjoy the party!
The Wedding Party was created for the opening of Streetcar Crowsnest Theatre in Toronto, in 2017. Four years before that, I invited some of my favourite actors – Trish Lindström, Tony Nappo, Moya O’Connell, Tom Rooney, Bahia Watson – to improvise with me around a fascination I have with weddings, witnessing and belief, and the echoes of these experiences in performance and theatre. It has been everything I could have wished for, to be surrounded and grounded by artists who “have it all”: wit, spontaneity, hilarity and heart. I hope our play can offer this to you, as well as the simple pleasure of coming together in the spirit of play and imagination. These things mean the world to me. As do the following people and organizations for their support and generosity along the way:
Chris Abraham; Arkady Spivak; Andrew Kushnir; Irene Boychuck and Donald Guloein; Jim and Sandra Pitblado; Rupert Duschesne and Holly Coll-Black; Kate Alexander and David Daniels; Amrin and Sabi Marwah; Thomas Ryder Payne; Bob White; Canada Council for the Arts; Ontario Arts Council; Jim Lisser; B & W Wine; Ellie Alice; Kristi Magraw; Kathryn Beet; Pamela Sinha; Ethel Teitelbaum; Tania Melkonian; Nan Shepherd; Virgilia Griffith; Jason Cadieux; Jane Spidell.
I owe endless personal debt to Ava Roth, Liisa Repo-Martell, Lucinda Thomson, Bob Williams and Hussain Amarshi.
This play is for siblings. My own: Marcia Thomson and Todd Thomson. And my children: Zayd, Samir and Nyla Thomson-Amarshi.
Kristen’s play is about family — its pleasures, its pains. It’s about how families get made in the wedding ritual, broken and remade again. The catalyst is the joyous/nightmarish pressure cooker we call “the wedding party” — an event that always seems to stir up buried desires or old grievances. The night catches us prepared, but unready, mercilessly opening us up to the possibility of unexpected love, loss, loneliness and too much alcohol. Kristen’s plays have always been bound up in rites of passage that tie us to family. They hilariously and heartbreakingly focus their lens on divorce, adolescence, the death of a parent, and middle age as transformative cataclysms that destroy and remake their protagonists. The Wedding Party continues this commitment to the exploration of these humane and very human themes. To make The Wedding Party, Kristen created a theatrical family of her own. Through improvisation, conversation and lots of laughter, two families emerged. I am deeply grateful to her and the team for welcoming me along for the ride. This was such fun! I also want to thank our partners, Arkady Spivak and Talk Is Free Theatre, for their spirit of adventurous collaboration, and Sandra and Jim Pitblado’s beautiful and steadfast support of Kristen’s work over many years.