The Late 1990s
View from the Roof
The cast of the Summer Works production of A View From the Roof. From left to right: D. Garnett Harding, Gina Wilkinson, John Jarvis and Esther Arbeid. Photo by Andrew Waller.
While working at the Playwrights Union, Dave had the great good fortune to make the acquaintance of novelist and short story writer Helen Weinzweig. He fell in love with her surreal fiction and, in 1996, adapted a few of her stories from her award-winning collection A View From The Roof for CBC Radio. Dave next took those stories and knitted them together with another, unpublished work by Helen. The resulting full-length play was produced in the Tarragon Theatre Extra Space in 1996, and has since had another dozen productions across North America. It was nominated again for the Chalmers Award, and the Barrington Stage production was included in both the Boston Globe and Boston Herald's Top Ten lists for 1998. A View from the Roof also began another long-term creative association for Dave, with the talented young director Michael Waller.
John Jarvis and Gina Wilkinson, from the Summerworks production of A View From The Roof.
In 1997 Dave took on yet another job, that of drama editor for Scirocco Publishing, the somewhat funky Winnipeg publishing house founded by Gordon Shillingford. While editor at Scirocco, Dave was able to bring that company's drama list into national prominence. During Dave's tenure, Scirocco writers received an unprecedented number of Governor General's awards and nominations, including two winners (Ian Ross for fareWel and Djanet Sears for Harlem Duet) as well as nominations for Lee MacDougall, Maureen Hunter, Daniel MacIvor, David Young and Theresa Tova. Scirocco's list is now selected and edited by Glenda MacFarlane and continues to be one of Canada's foremost publishers of drama.
Walking on Water
During this time, Dave was also a member of CanStage's Play Creation Group, along with Ian Ross, Djanet Sears, Karen Hines and Andre Alexis. Under the encouragement of that theatre's resident dramaturge, Iris Turcott, Dave began work on his largest play, Walking on Water. Inspired by Thornton Wilder's Our Town, Walking on Water has thirteen characters and spans fifty years in the life of a city. It was first produced in 2000 at Winnipeg's Prairie Theatre Exchange, directed by Alan MacInnes, and then bravely remounted by Randy Read's theatre company, New Stages Peterborough, directed by Michael Waller.
Dave was the playwright in residence at both The Stratford Festival (1997) and Massachusetts' Barrington Stage Company in 1999.
The cast of Walking on Water, The Curtain Club, Richmond Hill, Ontario, 2007. Directed by Brandon Moore. Photo by Davis Strong.
In 1998, After You, a revised version of an earlier work, was produced at Randy Read's New Stages in Peterborough, directed by another longtime creative associate of Dave's, Sue Miner. It starred two wonderful women of Canadian Theatre - Corinne Conley and Charmion King. The play had originally been produced at playRites 94 at Alberta Theatre Projects, under the title Kawartha. After You has since had a number of productions, most notably a sensitive treatment at Toronto's Alumnae Theatre, directed by Jane Carnwath.
James Roy directed Dave's satire on mega-retailers, Big Box, at the Blyth Festival in 1999. James Roy was founder of that unique festival. Big Box takes on the Wal-martization of consumer culture and its devastating effect on small towns. It originally had been produced as a radio play and won the Gold Medal at the New York International Radio awards. That was the second Gold for a radio play written by Dave, the first being for Losing Paradise in 1997, a drama about the international trade in endangered fauna. A three-way co-production with the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Broadcast Corporation, Losing Paradise was written with Welsh writer Rob Gittins and Paige Gibbs of Australia. The Canadian segments were produced by James Roy.