Reviews: Right Here, Write Now Festival.

by Lynn on May 2, 2021

in The Passionate Playgoer

Streaming on the Young People’s Theatre (YPT) website.

Three plays that are part of Young People’s Theatre’s Right Here, Write Now Festival of plays for young people.

Right Here, Write Now
, features contemporary playwrights responding to these extraordinary times. From the information from YPT:

“Part of YPT’s programming vision is ensuring we create artistic works that speak to the contemporary lives of young people,” said Artistic Director Allen MacInnis. “We are in the midst of a time of enormous change and the writers of these short plays have all been asked to consider what might we make of this moment?”

The first play of the three play series is We Are Losing Time. Recommended for Ages 13-18 | Grades 8-12

Written by Tai Amy Grauman

Directed by Megan Watson

Cast: Julie Lumsden

Joel  Montgrand

Rose and Johnny are two Indigenous teens who have decided to get married that night. In reflecting on the pandemic and recent losses in their lives, they weigh the consequences of losing more time against the certainty of their love for one another.

I was impressed with the sweetness of Tai Amy Grauman’s writing of the piece. Rose and Johnny are loving and innocent in their devotion to each other, their respect for their elders and their reverence of their ancestors. Grauman beautifully establishes the Indigenous world for the reverence of tradition and respect for the teachings of those who have gone before. It is the bedrock of that world.

Julie Lumsden as Rose and Joel Montgrand as Johnny has a wonderful twinkling chemistry of the loving couple. The whole piece is directed with a delicate hand by Megan Watson.


Recommended for Ages 10-14 | Grades 5-8

Written by Luke Reece

Directed by Natasha Mumba

Cast: David Collins

daniel jelani ellis

From YPT: “After an uncomfortable encounter on a walk with his dog, followed by another event at school, 12-year-old Cassius needs answers from his Grandpa about why he chose to come to Canada.  His phone call with Grandpa leads to honest conversations about dealing with racism. Cassius learns to find his value and worth not in the place that he lives, but through the experiences he goes through that ultimately make him stronger.”

Cassius (daniel jelani ellis) used to Facetime with his Grandpa (Michael Collins) once a month but has hesitated for a few months because he was upset by the racism he encountered and his anger at his Grandpa for coming to Canada to live. Cassius finally decides to call his Grandpa and confront him with his concerns. We get the sense from Cassius that his Grandpa came from an ‘island full of Black people.’ Cassius asks him: “Why come to a place (Canada) where we’re valued less if you’re used to living somewhere we’re just like normal people.” Grandpa carefully, passionately tells Cassius that he came to Canada because of the access to opportunities to build his dreams. Part of that dream was to raise his daughter (Cassius’ Mother) into a strong, Black woman who in term would instill that strength of character in her son.

Cassius is a wonderful play. Luke Reece has written two deeply layered characters in Cassius and Grandpa, each with issues, concerns, questions and mutual respect. Reece focuses on the thorny issue of racism with sensitivity as does his gifted director, Natasha Mumba. Under her guidance Cassius’ frustration, confusion and hurt and Grandpa’s love and respect for Cassius are gradually revealed.

As Cassius. daniel jelani ellis has the jangle and kinetic energy of a 12-year-old boy. daniel jelani ellis instills a sense of wonder and curiosity in Cassius as well as the ability to distill the information Grandpa gives him. It’s a conversation of a young boy that is both prickly and loving. As Grandpa, David Collins illuminates a complex man who had difficult decisions to make in his life, but is assured he made the right ones. Still he is able to tell his grandson clearly why he needed to come to Canada and why it was the right decision. Collins played Grandpa with the slightest of accents, which was helpful in detailing Grandpa’s background. We learn late in the play that Grandpa came from Barbados.

The metaphor of boxing, fighting and naming Cassius after Cassius Clay goes to also aid in creating the layers of the play—that this kind of activity does not just require force, it also requires, thought, movement, knowing when to jab and parry as well as mental skill.  

 The Best Friend Blanket Fort

Recommended for Ages 5-10 | Grades 1-4

Written by Marie Beath Badian

Directed by Mieko Ouchi
Music by Hugo Badian-Parker

Cast: Cynthia Jimenez-Hicks  

Gabe Maharjan

I appreciated the previous two short plays, but The Best Friend Blanket Fort blew me away. It so illuminates our changing with care and sensitivity.

From YPT information on the play: “ Auggie and Reggie are best friends who love to eat Pocky, play Minecraft, and film their YouTube series “The Best Friend Blanket Fort Show”. When Reggie decides to have a “FIERCE FEMINIST SUPERHERO ZOOM BIRTHDAY PARTY” and doesn’t invite Auggie because it’s for “girls only”, the dynamic duo dive into a discussion on gender, pronouns, and identity as Auggie explores their gender. Although the friends are not always on the same page, they must learn to navigate what it means to support someone being their authentic self.”

Auggie and Reggie are best friends, are in the same class in public school and are almost the same age (although Reggie will be 10 years old in two weeks and is a bit older than Auggie). They also live in the same building. Both friends love Pokey (what I can gather, is a kind of stick candy that comes in packages) and Reggie leaves a package at Auggie’s door, so they can both enjoy it while they talk to each other on Zoom.  They joke and josh with each other, finish each other’s sentences and seem to be on the same wavelength. They have even fashioned their own YouTube series called “The Best Friend Blanket Fort Show.” It has graphics placed around the screen, segments of entertainment and even a land acknowledgement in which Reggie does the acknowledgement in English and Auggie does it in French. (I thought this insertion into the text of the show was inspired—bravo to playwright Marie Beath Badian).

Reggie is particularly excited about her impending virtual birthday party that she is having for her girlfriends in which everybody dresses up as their favourite fierce, feminist superhero. Reggie babbles on as Reggie goes quiet, munching on a Pokey. Even though Auggie didn’t get an invitation Auggie looks forward to attending. Reggie is a little confused and notes that the party is for girls and Auggie is a boy. Auggie quietly says, “What if I’m not a boy?” This confuses Reggie: “What do you mean? Of course you’re a boy what else can you be?” Auggie replies: “I don’t know. Something else?”

What follows is a conversation about gender, pronouns, belonging and fierce friendship. Both Auggie and Reggie are taking this voyage on discovery and identity together, albeit in different ways. Reggie is confused by this new information on gender but wants to understand her friend. At one point Auggie wanted to forget the whole matter because he couldn’t make Reggie understand. It’s to Reggie’s credit that she won’t let Aggie back away but engages her friend to explain the situation further so she can grasp it.    

Marie Beath Badian’s writing conjures the vivid world of kid’s games, short-hand, tv shows and snacks. These difficult questions of identity and how to describe them are handled with such delicacy, respect, and tenderness as the friends question and discover more about each other.

Director Mieko Ouchi created a world of such close friendship between Reggie (Cynthia Jimenez-Hicks) and Auggie (Gabe Maharjan).  Both actors are “awesome’. The pace is quick but each actor picks up on the nuance of the other. Cynthis Jimenez-Hicks as Reggie is a bubbly kid, open-hearted, thoughtful when sharing her treats and curious about this new development with her friend. Auggie is more intellectual and serious because of the way that Gabe Maharjan sensitively delves into the character. After all, Auggie’s mother signs Auggie up for the on-line class: “Quantum Physics for Curious Kiddoes.” Maharjan beautifully conveys Auggie’s questions of self-awareness, and Auggie’s particular confidence. Both Reggie and Auggie care for each other to such an extent that they have patience with each other when information is hard to process. They don’t give up on the other. Love that. As I said, this play blew me away.

Right Here, Write Now Festival streams on the Young People’s Theatre website,

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