The Early 2000s

The Edible Woman

In 2000, Dave was in residence at the Festival of New Works at the University of Michigan, which was then run by two great friends of Canadian playwriting, Frank Gagliano and Mary Lou Chlipala. While there, he developed and presented his stage dramatization of Margaret Atwood's novel, The Edible Woman. First produced as a radio play on CBC, the stage version was directed in Michigan by Sara Chazen, and a later premiere in Canada was directed by Christopher McHarge and Michael Waller at Theatre on the Grand, in Fergus, Ontario.

The cover of The Edible Woman (Scirocco). Cover design by Scott Thornley + Company.

Test Drive

In 2002, Dave's radio series Test Drive was broadcast on CBC Radio One and Two. The story of an American Motors dealer and the car industry over the past fifty years, Test Drive starred Gordon Pinsent as Earl Hughes. The radio series won the Bronze Medal at the New York International Radio Festival (Best Play). In the summer of 2004, the stage version of Test Drive premiered at Ontario's Blyth Festival, starring Eric Coates, Darren Keay and Jane Spidell. Miles Potter directed the play, which proved to be one of the most popular offerings in Blyth's history, according to an audience poll.

Sound engineer Wayne Richards adjusts "the car", in the radio version of Test Drive, recorded in CBC's legendary Studio 212. Gordon Pinsent (as Earl) is driving - Richard Lee plays Cody, the terrified driving instructor.
Test Drive - Wayne Richards


Dave's new play Orchidelirium had a workshop premiere at the Festival of New Works at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, in May 2002. The stage premiere took place Toronto's Factory Theatre, in March, 2003. Sue Miner directed the Theatre Voce-Pea Green production. While in rehearsal, Dave managed to achieve a new high in playwright-avoiding-rewrites: an angiogram test at St. Michael's Hospital revealed massive arterial blockage and Dave underwent an emergency heart bypass operation. He missed the final week of rehearsals and the opening night of Orchidelirium but was frisky enough to see the show by closing. His heart remains firmly ticking and Orchidelirium went on to have its New York premiere in 2004. A mid-west US premiere in Columbus, Ohio took place in early 2005 at the Franklin Park Conservatory, the first environmental production of the play.

Dave Carley giving acceptance speech after receiving the Arthur Miller Playwriting Award, University of Michigan, 2002. Photo by Harry Bloomberg.
Arthur Miller Award

The Final Hour

One of Dave's most successful radio plays was presented on June 6, 2004, the 60th Anniversary of the D Day invasion of Normandy. Written with Glenda MacFarlane, The Final Hour features five young soldiers from the Royal Winnipeg Rifles in the last minutes before landing and it was a finalist for both the New York International Radio Award (best play) and the Canadian Screenwriting Award. The Final Hour has recently been adapted for stage, with the help of The Blyth and Lighthouse Festival and a concert production is set for Toronto, November 2013.

Al Purdy - At the Quinte Hotel

Another radio play which premiered in 2004 has also made the leap to other mediums - Al Purdy at the Quinte Hotel was performed and recorded in front of a live audience at Toronto's Glenn Gould Studio, and then given a further performance at the Regent Theatre in Picton, in July. Gordon Pinsent starred in the radio version (Damiano Pietropaolo directing) and Robert Collins at the Regent (Jonathon Rooke and Layne Coleman directing.) Most recently, C. David Johnson played the role of Al Purdy at the Westben Festival, in Campbellford. Dave directed that one himself. A TV version of the Purdy piece, entitled Yours, Al, was filmed in summer of 2005 and once again starred Gordon Pinsent. The hour-long show was featured on CBC's Opening Night program, and was nominated and won a number of awards, including the Yorkton festival Golden Sheaf Award for best actor for Gordon Pinsent. Bill Spahic co-wrote Yours, Al with Dave, and also directed the Reel to Real production.