3 min read

Suddenly, Toronto

Snowy train tracks flanked by trees under a blue sky, with the city of Toronto silhouetted in the distance.

Dear Friends,

I've written before about how much hospitality means to me, and how double-edged is my engagement with it: that while I expansively wish to invite my guest to treat my home as theirs and will do whatever I can to ensure their comfort, when it's my turn to be a guest I wish to take up as little space and cause as little trouble as possible.

For example: if a dear friend texted me from another city and asked if she could crash at my place about 12 hours from now and stay for, oh, four days or so, I would try to bounce into action and say yes of course, but I wouldn't dream of putting anyone else in that position.

Until, well, this past Tuesday. When I did exactly that.

An angled photo capturing one eye and part of my face standing in front of the Red Sandcastle Theatre’s window—I’m trying to fit the whole logo and my face but simply cannot.

In fairness we've been friends for just over 20 years and she had, in fact, invited me a few weeks ago! Because this friend is Margo MacDonald, solo performer of Dressed As People: A Triptych of Uncanny Abduction, which I wrote part of, and after I was blown away by its stage debut at the Undercurrents festival in Ottawa, I said, I really wasn't planning on going to see it in Toronto, but now I must. At least once. And she said, come, stay, take in the play in a new space!

Life's tumults occurred, it's been a very weird couple of weeks, and the thought of figuring out timing and train tickets simply refused to cohere through a miasma of stresses and strangeness – but out of that fug of uncertainty a friend unexpectedly offered me a same-day lift, and suddenly I was texting Margo and ask if she still wanted to see me, well, that night, until Sunday?

So I'm in Toronto, in Margo's beautiful home, which is so full of exquisite loveliness that it's impossible to set a drink down without it becoming a still life.

Foregrounded is an ornate coupe full of a pale cocktail with a dark cherry blooming up from the stem; the glass is set on a ceramic coaster with classical peacock imagery, next to a place mat covered in William Morris' "Strawberry Thief" print. In the background is a small stack of books, a tea cup with another Morris print, a ceramic salt shaker in the shape of a fox, a pink orchid, a stained-glass lamp, and a cascade of ornamental brass moons in various phases dangling on brass chain from a replica of a Victorian train station clock.
A Corpse Reviver No. 2

This is a working visit, largely anchored to the stretch of Queen street between Logan and Carlaw avenues where Red Sandcastle Theatre is to be found. But I've been in great luck while here, as a very beautiful book store called Queen Books is practically next door to the theatre, and I was able to catch Sienna Tristen, Brandon Crilly and Suzan Palumbo in conversation there.

Queen Books even had a single copy of This Is How You Lose the Time War which they generously allowed me to deface.

Selfie in which I'm holding up a copy of This Is How You Lose the Time War while dressed in a black hoodie and white mask, and looking slyly away from the camera like I'm doing something sneaky. Behind me are artifical drapes of wisteria dangling from the book store's light fixtures.
This one's a rare signed-in-black-ink copy, as I'd foolishly left home without my signing pen. 

There are only three performances of Dressed As People left: tonight, a Saturday matinee, and the closing show on Saturday evening. I intend to see ... All of them, because the show is just that fantastic, and I keep catching new nuances in Kelly Robson and A. M. Dellamonica's words as well as Margo's performance. I also have no idea when it will be staged again.

But after the matinee, I'll be joining my fellow playwrights (I guess I'm a playwright now?!) in conversation about the show, so if you have questions or want to learn more about how this collaboration came about you can get them answered! And if any of you are local and have wanted to get copies of This Is How You Lose the Time War signed, please feel free to just come up and ask before or after the show – I love to do it, and I'll make sure to have my signing pen on me.

You can get your tickets to Dressed As People here. We can't wait to see you.

The five of us are striking a pose together on a stage while extravagant red and blue lighting swirls around us.
From left: Director Mary Ellis, me, Kelly Robson, A. M. Dellamonica, Margo MacDonald