Another year filled with awesomeness, challenges and art! Thank you to all of you who take the time to read these newsletters. It’s a pleasure to share life with you this way. Let us begin at the beginning…
January – May
The beginning of the year was intensely busy with us preparing for our 5th full-length theatrical production. We wanted to choose an already established play that spoke to our community – both the street involved people and the people of relative privilege who feel at home at Sanctuary. Choosing a play is never easy, seeing as how we have very distinct limitations and needs. But, when we stumbled on to the one we chose, it just seemed to shine like a beacon in the night → “The Elephant Man” by Bernard Pomerance. WOW! What a play and what an experience.
It was quite ambitious on our part as this was the most technically challenging piece we’ve done to date. Not only are there something like 19 different characters, there are 21 scenes spanning 90 minutes and at least 3 or 4 different locales. All of this would be a challenge with a team of hardcore professionals; when you add to the mix that we are a delightfully motley crew of professionals, amateurs, and street-involved friends, and that increases the challenge factor by about 10! The challenges at times seemed overwhelming but we had a blast!
The street-involved actors really stepped up their game and worked incredibly hard on their lines and on their characters. A fellow actor and friend of mine wrote this as part of a reflection-type blog post on thebenchtheatre.com‘s website,
I can honestly say that I’ve never had a professional rehearsal where we adapt our plans because someone is still downstairs eating dinner at the Thursday night drop-in. It’s never happened that someone has gotten so flustered over forgetting their blocking that they’ve needed to go for a smoke break. It’s never happened that I’ve needed to sit with another professional actor in a small board room and run lines with them because otherwise they will never learn their lines. Those things just don’t happen.
But just as honestly, I can’t say that someone at a professional rehearsal has said, “Give your wife some big love for me, and tell her that I love her and miss her.” It’s never happened that at the end of a scene, we’ve had to stop because one of the actors recognizes themselves in a part so intimately that we need to talk about it together. It’s never happened that someone has asked me for food money at the end of a rehearsal. Those things just don’t happen, either. ~ Luke LaRocque [http://thebenchtheatre.com/learning-from-the-questions/]
And that is one thing that we absolutely love about working with our friends: it truly becomes an opportunity to work with our community and to become better friends and better people in the process.
During this time, life at home was a bit up and down. Life with the Rumsby’s was wonderful, however, they were selling their house and so we were having to look for a new place. It was intense. I reflected on this time of transition in my journal…
Jenn and the boys stayed with her folks in Brighton for a couple of weeks in March while the last touch-ups were done and while the house was being shown. I stayed in Toronto for work but got out to visit them a couple of times thanks to the generosity of friends who lent us their car for a weekend 🙂 One thing that came over me as I stayed in our shell of a house was a feeling of displacement, homelessness. Now, I know that I have no real right to feel “homeless”, however I can’t deny that is exactly how I felt during the week when the house was being staged. In fact, when we went back I wondered if it would still feel like home or, if it would simply be a house. What makes a home? That is a question that we are always asking at Sanctuary as we don’t believe that 4 walls and a roof really make a dwelling place a “home”. I am honored to have this little glimpse into that side, where the 4 walls and roof that I will be going to tonight might not feel like a “home”, and that’s ok. It’s one more step on this journey.
We did eventually find a place, though it too came with it’s own caveat. Jenn shared this with some friends,
…we are moving into a 3 bedroom town-home in the same area of Toronto that we have lived for the past 7 years. There are so many wonderful things about this. Firstly, the way the home has come our way is that good friends of ours are relocating and have chosen to keep their Toronto home and rent it to us! They chose to do this as a way to support us and enable us to have a rental that exceeds our hopes and that we can live in for many, many years to come! We have struggled as renters to find a home that we are able to be in for long term and both Lyf and I ached for that; to be able to have this opportunity is a gift.
What this meant for us though was that we had to live apart as a family from May to August. Jenn and the boys went to live with her folks in Brighton while I stayed 4 days a week at one of the Sanctuary houses and then went to Brighton every weekend. In all honesty, I am still recovering from that time. It wasn’t bad, it was just disorienting.
The house I lived in my 4 days in Toronto every week was a wonderful experience and deepened my friendships with 3 other guys in the Sanctuary community. I had some great conversations and received, as humbly as I was able, their generosity. Meanwhile in Brighton, Jenn and the boys were having a blast (they missed me a lot too though, don’t worry). They were bike riding almost every day, watching birds & animals, playing outdoors and exploring the fields around her folks place. Our friends, the Allen’s, helped make Brighton even more enjoyable when Nana & Papa were working. They have children our boys ages and they got along famously! We miss them now.