PLAYWRIGHT’S CABARET: Penn Kemp bringing dad’s story home

By Joe Belanger, The London Free Press

London writer, poet, playwright, performance artist and author Penn Kemp is one of 14 London area writers whose scripts will be performed at the Grand Theatre’s McManus Studio Friday and Saturday for the Playwrights Cabaret. Her script, Homeward Bound, is based on her father Jim, inset with his wife Anne, and his experiences when he returned to London after serving as a lieutenant-commander in the navy during the Second World War. (Free Press file photo)

Jim and Anne 1940

London poet, playwright and author Penn Kemp is familiar with “dreams and expectations.”

So when the Grand Theatre announced the theme of this year’s Playwright’s Cabaret would be just that, Kemp thought of her father, the late Jim Kemp.

“I immediately thought of my father, imagining him coming home to London and finding out it had stayed still, but he was so changed,” said Kemp, one of 14 playwrights whose new scripts will be read Friday and Saturday.

“During the war he served as a lieutenant-commander in the navy. Even though he was young, he’d been given the responsibilities of a much older man and then to return and find himself stifled by this conservative ­community.”

Kemp’s play is titled Homeward Bound.

The line-up of playwrights includes Robyn Israel, Len Cuthbert, Sean Twist, Mark Richardson, Trish West, Paul Nesbitt-Larking, Emmanuele Amoni, Lara Mrkoci, Nancy Maki, Michelle Glennie, Joan Veldman, Barb Hoskins and Steve Mielczarek.

This is the 12th edition of the cabaret, where London and area playwrights are asked to submit scripts. Those selected are then workshopped with a dramaturge, director and actors to explore and develop characters, story, theme, style and other issues.

The final versions are then rehearsed and performed. This year, the directors are Jeff Culbert and Heather Davies and the actors include Aidan deSalaiz, Hannah Drew, Chris George and Rachel Jones.

“It’s amazing to have a chance to have something workshopped because, as a playwright, you can see where it can really take off (as a full-length script),” said Kemp. “You get insight into your play and see how it’s lifted off the page.”

Many of the scripts are eventually developed into full-length one or two-act plays.

It was the Cabaret where Kemp began work on The Dream Life of Teresa Harris.

“I think this program has really developed the quality of our local play writing,” said Kemp.

Among those benefiting is Trish West, whose script, The Game of Life, is being developed. This is West’s second time at the Cabaret. The last time she developed Bucket List.

“It’s a good way to hear your work before you put it on stage,” said West. “You get feedback from other writers, the dramaturge, the directors, the actors and the audience.”

joe.belanger@sunmedia.ca

— — —

IF YOU GO

What: Playwright’s Cabaret, 14 new, short scripts in dramatic readings during two nights, presented by the Grand Theatre, directed by Jeff Culbert and Heather Davies, starring Aidan deSalaiz, Hannah Drew, Chris George and Rachel Jones.

Where: The Grand Theatre’s McManus Studio, 471 Richmond St.

Friday, 8 p.m.: Wanna Be A Star (Emmanuelle Amoni), Care Giver (Lara Mrkoci), Charlie’s Chaplain (Mark Richardson), The Jackpot (Paul Nesbitt-Larking), The Wings (Nancy Maki), Keep Me Dreaming (Michelle Glennie), Waiting for Tim (Sean Twist).

Saturday, 8 p.m.: Benched/The Key to Gift Giving (Len Cuthbert), Look to the Sky (Joan Veldman), The Thing About Cats (Barb Hoskins), Baby Carriage. Baby (Steve Mielczarek), The Game of Life (Trish West), Homeward Bound (Penn Kemp), Forest City Dreaming (Robyn Israel).

Tickets: $22.60 (plus taxes and service charges) adults; $16.95 17 and younger; available at the box office, by calling 519-672- 8800 or 1-800-265-1593 or online at grandtheatre.com

http://www.lfpress.com/2015/01/13/penn-kemp-bringing-dads-story-home

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