New play by West Island playwright may now be performed across Canada
From the article in the West Island Journal (Your Local Journal) by James Parry :
What started out as a mother and daughter hobby - sharing acting classes - has transformed the life of a Kirk- land Mom beyond all recognition. For today, 16 years later, Donna Byrne is a professional actor working on stage, in film, and on TV, and has directed plays for some of the region’s most prestigious theatres.
But nothing can compare, she says, to having had her very own play - The Widow Schwartz – recently accepted by the Playwrights Guild of Canada, which will make it available for public readings and possible full scale productions right across the country.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” said Byrne in an exclusive interview with Your Local Journal this week. “There are already many excellent plays by Canadian playwrights that are available on their website and I’m delighted to join them. It is a great honour. And I would like to encourage all theatre companies and producers to check it out and buy Canadian next time they are planning a new production.”
As to how she came to write The Widow Schwartz – a two-act comedy- drama with a cast of nine – Byrne said it was first conceived three years ago because she was “bothered” by the lack of strong female roles currently available to actors like herself. “So Tova Schwartz, the lead character in my play, was born,” she added. “And upon being created, she soon came with family, friends, conflicts, eccentricities, regrets, and a whole life unfolded within the play.
None of the characters in the play are, in any way, conventional.” As for the plot, it follows the tribulations of an eccentric therapist, Tova, as she tries to move on with her life after the death of her husband, a compulsive gambler. She is forced to move in with her sister in order to maintain her practice, which happens to be in the back of her sister’s duplex and where her beautician serves as Tova’s therapist. Things soon spiral out of control when Tova starts a new romance with a dubious character, while her zany clients and domineering sister pull her in every direction. Is she willing to bet on love, once again...?
One thing is for sure. Byrne is not only in love with theatre, she is passionate about it. “I love it because the creative possibilities are endless whether it is acting, directing, or writing a play,” she continued. “I am an actor myself and I have a great respect for actors. It takes a lot of courage to go out there and become vulnerable. And it also takes a lot of hard work to make it look so effortless.”
Added Byrne, who to date has directed 14 plays and has been assistant director in another 17: “I find theatre a living tribute to so much of our creativity and storytelling, which has been around for millions of years. Theatre is another way of entertaining, while passing on stories, our thoughts, and history. And I really do urge West Islanders to support theatres, to go out and see a play at any theatre. Ticket prices are very reasonable and, like me, they may just find themselves hooked.”
The Widow Schwartz is in fact the second play that Byrne has written, the other being The Garden a few years ago. Said Byrne: “It was my first attempt. Since then I have grown as a playwright and can see where improvements need to be made. Although it is a good early draft, I can see it has much more development potential now.” Another for the Playwrights Guild of Canada? The website site of which is www.playwrightsguild.ca