by Lynn on November 30, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

At Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Andrea Scott and Nick Green

Directed by Andrea Donaldson and Sedina Fiati

Set by Michelle Tracey

Costumes by Ming Wong

Lighting by Rebecca Picherack

Sound by Cosette Pin

Cast: Monice Peter

Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski

A terrific production of a blazingly intelligent play that challenges our perceptions of race, communication, friendship, respect and how we deal with uncomfortable situations and each other.   

 The Story. Every Day She Rose by Andrea Scott and Nick Green is about two friends, one white and one black, and their different perceptions on the Pride Parade regarding the police presence in the parade and Black Lives Matter who did not want the police there.

Cathy-Ann and Mark are close friends and share Mark’s condo. Cathy-Ann is straight and black. Mark is gay and white. They are preparing to go to the Pride Parade and are getting all costumed up in the pride colours. At a point in the parade they see that a contingent of police are marching in the parade and they are being stopped by a group from Black Lives Matter who protest their presence in the parade.

Cathy-Ann is sympathetic to Black Lives Matter and its political concerns. Mark is happy the police have a presence in the parade because he thinks of the massacre in Orlando, Florida and believes the men were killed in Orlando because they were gay. Cathy-Ann counters by saying gently they were Latino and that’s why they were killed. Obviously these two friends have different perspectives on some thorny issues.

The Production.  The production is terrific. Michelle Tracey has designed a stylish condo. There is a couch, a fridge that is often used and counter space. Cosette Pin has a subtle soundscape of street noise, sirens, cars honking. Mark (Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski is stereotypically  flamboyant in his body language and voice. He wears tight, white shorts, a top and a pride coloured boa.  He is excessively excited about going to the parade and seeing Justin Trudeau who will be marching in the parade.  Cathy-Ann (Monice Peter) is comfortably dressed and wears a large pride coloured pashmina (of sorts). Kudos to designer, Ming Wong. Cathy-Ann is more serious and thoughtful than Mark. They are comfortable with each other. They sit close on the couch, her head on his shoulder. They banter like friends who are used to flipping smart talk back and forth.

Mark describes seeing Justin Trudeau and screaming his name several times. Cathy-Ann looks at him with crinkled eyebrows. Mark continues describing how they negotiated various sections of the parade until they came to that section with the police marching and how they were stopped by a contingent of Black Lives Matter who don’t want them in the parade at all. That’s when Cathy-Ann expresses that she supports Black Lives Matter in this regard. Mark on the other hand is happy they are there for protection and cites the Orlando massacre.

Mark and Cathy-Ann are close friends but it’s obvious from their different perceptions of the police and Black Lives Matter there are cracks in that relationship. Earlier in the apartment he calls her “girlfriend” with a lilt in his voice as if he was black. She tells him not to call her that (“in that way” is implied). He does again as a joke.  I thought that was really telling. He’s not listening to her request, or if he is he is not respecting her enough to stop calling her “girlfriend” and in the way he is saying it.

As they continue their conversation about race Cathy-Ann says that when she sees a group of racially different people she just sees “people”. But she wants Mark to see her as a black woman first because that’s how she perceives herself.

With every shift in perception of the characters we are given so much to parse, weigh, consider and reflect upon not only from the characters’ point of view but from ours. And then the playwrights weigh in as well.

As the characters in the play wrangle, the “actors” Monice Peter and Adrian Shepherd-Gawinski step out of the set and ‘the play’ and then take on the personas of the playwrights Andrea Scott and Nick Green, respectively, who then discuss the scene and how it’s working or not. This shift is noted with a quick change in the lighting by Rebecca Picherack.  Their personalities are very different from the characters of Cathy-Ann and Mark but their skin colour is not. Andrea Scott is black and Nick Green is white.

This play is not only an examination of different perspectives involving race etc. it’s also an observation in play-writing when one playwright is black and one is white. At one point the character of Andrea says that she was eager to collaborate with Nick but not if it meant she was just tagging along and he was really the lead writer. The character of Nick says that he didn’t want that either.

In their easy conversation Nick is very eager to accommodate Andrea’s ideas, very often seeing her point of view. Initially I find that refreshing but then wonder is that because he has the confidence of being white. Monice Peter illuminates Andrea’s watchfulness as if she is preparing for Nick to ‘take over.’ In fact there is a scene in which that does happen, it’s so delicately created by co-directors Andrea Donaldson and Sedina Fiati. Monice Peter as Andrea is diplomatic in handling that attempt to take over, but she also stands her ground. Nothing is so overstated as to unbalance the play, but it’s interesting to see how all concerned make us notice, look and see what is carefully presented.

Andrea and Nick worry that the character of Mark is unlikable and work to make him more likable. I didn’t find him unlikable as much as I found him silly, frivolous and superficial next to the more serious Cathy-Ann. The ‘playwrights’ discuss how these two different characters could be friends; how they met; the back stories. They check the script on their laptops. It’s all heightened theatricality.

At one point Nick asks Andrea something along the lines of how she copes with disappointment in the work etc. She says something like, “every day you rise”—you get up and try again. Beautiful. And how telling that the title now focuses on her with Every Day She Rose.

It’s also interesting to note that at times the clear lines between the characters ‘in the play’ and the ‘characters’ of the playwrights of the play get intentionally blurry in their attitudes and politics. Conflict resolution between the character varies greatly.

To be scrupulously fair Every Day She Rose is co-directed by Andrea Donaldson who is white and Sedina Fiati who is black. They each bring their own sensibilities to the play but also collaborate in realizing the subtle and nuanced moments in the play and the characters.

Comment. I love the play and the production. I loved the perception of race relations both writers have. I love the boldness of the creation and the fact that the focus is on such  thorny issues. I loved that both writers seemed to have written for both characters rather than Nick writing only for Mark (white) and Andrea writing only for Cathy-Ann (black) Loved that melding. I loved that the play gets us thinking about our perceptions of race, skin colour, Black Lives Matter, the police, communication, friendship and respect.

Every Day She Rose is a bracing, highly charged, funny, intelligent play and it’s important.

Produced by Nightwood Theatre.

Opened: Nov. 26, 2019.

Closes: Dec. 8, 2019.

Running Time: 70 minutes, no intermission.

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