The Early to Mid-1990s

Writing with our Feet

Through the 1990s and into the millennium, Dave kept writing plays, reaching an ever-growing audience. In 1991 he conducted an exercise in automatic writing, creating Writing With Our Feet. It premiered in Hamilton, Ontario, directed by playwright Kevin Land. Writing With Our Feet was produced in an old north-end porno theatre which was being restored (i.e. disinfected) by Christopher McHarge, a talented director who would become instrumental in bringing a number of Dave's plays to the stage.

Lesley Ewan and Alan Zinyk from the Dark Horse production of Writing with our Feet, Vancouver 1991.
Dark Horse production

Jackie Maxwell produced Writing With Our Feet at Toronto's Factory Theatre in 1992, first casting Stephen Ouimette and Tanja Jacobs in the lead roles, and then remounting it the following year with Tom McCamus and Ellie Rae Hennessey. The play was published by Blizzard Press, and was a finalist for the Governor General's Award.

Tanja Jacobs and Stephen Ouimette in the Factory production of Writing with Our Feet. Photo by Nir Bareket.
Wriitng with our Feet


Taking Liberties

Jan Carley, after the opening of the stage premiere of Taking Liberties in Vancouver.
Jan Carley

Taking Liberties premiered in 1992. A series of five interconnected monologues, the play distills many of Dave's views on civil liberties and allowed him a last kick at the would-be censors who tried to remove Margaret Laurence's novel The Diviners from reading lists. The play was also inspired by Alan Borovoy's collection of essays, When Freedoms Collide. The first stage production was at the Vancouver Fringe Festival, directed by Dave's sister Jan Carley. The Toronto production of Taking Liberties was directed by Stephen Ouimette, and the play was awarded Dave's first Chalmers Award nomination. Dave directed a production with an updated text at the 2008 Toronto Fringe; starring David Fox as Heck Munro, it sold out its run. 

Into

In 1994 Dave wrote Into and it was produced first at the Toronto Fringe Festival, and then in a longer form at Theatre Passe Muraille. It again drew its inspiration from an established text, Julio Cortazar's short story The Southern Thruway. In fact, Dave originally wrote the piece for radio, where it was produced by Bill Lane. (CBC Radio Drama has afforded Dave and a great many other writers the opportunity to create works which go on to later life as stage plays.)

Bill Lane also directed the Passe Muraille stage version and it was nominated for a Dora Award for Best New Play, as well as another Chalmers Award. Into has subsequently been produced from Perth, Australia to Yellowknife, capital of Canada's Northwest Territories, suggesting that there is a degree of universality to traffic jam.

The Theatre Passe Muraille publicity shot for Into. The playwright is trying to look cerebral.
TPM Into

Hedges

Theatre Carousel produced Dave's first play for younger audiences, Hedges, in 1995. The play was originally commissioned by the late actress Marian Gilsenan, who specifically requested a work that could be performed by teenagers. Hedges is a look at Canada's role in the arms race and it has had over fifty productions since its debut in Merrickville, Ontario, under Ms Gilsenan's auspices. It has travelled as far as the Kanagawa International Arts Festival in Japan, and was the winner in the early 1990s of the delightfully named but ephemeral Creative Peacemaking Award, out of Princeton University.