Mark (director), Mikael (George/Harry/Mrs. Strath), Tyler (Fergie et al), and I met yesterday in Regina to read through Lords of Sceptre twice and come up with some ideas of how to improve/hone it. The discussion was lively. These folks are so invested in telling this story the best way possible -- and of course, so am I. We are hoping to bring a third actor on board to play Hal Price and some of the other NLB players. This is a really exciting opportunity, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that one of the young gentleman that Mark knows will be available.
One of the most interesting ideas (Tyler's!) was discussion around how the "bases" of our imaginary baseball diamond could be used progressively to imitate the expanding schedule, rivalries, etc. of the Sceptre club. Doing this will give the audience visual "touchstones." Baseball is such a metaphor for life, and we will relish exploring those opportunities.
Mikael and Tyler also began testing out different voices for the characters. This is going to be a joyful challenge for them. We hope to get together with the real George Mahaffy sometime early in the rehearsal process so that he can help out with the gestures/batting stance/physicality of each of his peers.
I will be absent for the next workshop in October -- and I certainly have significant revisions to make before then -- but I am confident Lords of Sceptre is in very good hands.
of It's hard to believe how beautifully it's coming together at last.
I started down the road with Lords of Sceptre last year when I spent hours on the phone with my dad's cousin George Mahaffy. At the time my dad was still alive, but I was losing him. Dementia was slowly and inexorably stealing his brilliant mind, and when he no longer knew me, I wanted to find a way to connect with him through his past.
Thank goodness George doesn't believe in email or social media or computers. I was forced to communicate with him the old fashioned way, and therefore, his passion for Sceptre baseball could reach out to me right through the receiver.
While I was growing up, Dad didn't talk much about himself as a ball player. But my mom did. "He was a great pitcher," she told me. "His nickname was Red Mahaffy. I grew up in Saskatoon, and even there the Sceptre team was a really big deal." Dad did talk about his baseball buddies though.
Besides George and Dad's other cousin Bill Gatenby, Dad's peers were Harry "Nibs" Gracie, Jimmy "Shorty" Shields, and Bert Olmstead. Up until about 18 months ago, I'd exchange emails several times a year with Nibs, but he hasn't responded to me in quite some time and I suspect he may have suffered a stroke or other major setback. I met Jim briefly when I was about thirteen. My grandparents Harry and Ella Mahaffy took me to visit Canada West Stables outside of Calgary. Jim was warm and hospitable and invited me back to ride his stable ponies. To my regret, I was too shy to take him up on his offer. I never met Bert, but I know he was a legend in Sceptre -- a hometown boy who made it to the NHL and won five Stanley Cups. As for Cousin Bill, he lived in Calgary, so we saw him reasonably often. Bill eventually moved back into his mother's house in Sceptre though he was a millionaire several times over. Obviously once Sceptre got its hooks into you, it didn't let go.
I have fond memories of my grandparents' house. We spent many an hour playing cards and crokinole with them. I remember the Christmas my brother Jim and I awoke to find four sets of skis under the Christmas tree. How did Dad manage to get them to Sceptre without us seeing them? We had no idea we were about to become skiers!
But back to George. He told me stories about baseball, so I could talk to Dad about them. And eventually my interest in the team itself was piqued. There's a story here, I thought. A story that's poignant and funny and thrilling.
I'd known the excitement of following a small town team. From the time I started dating Randy in 1981 until he finally threw in the towel in 2014, I watched him play baseball with the Lampman A's -- and when he was too old for that -- the Lampman Legends. The A's, who won 6 provincial titles in 9 years, were inducted into the SBA Hall of Fame in 2012. Watching the A's take the diamond against their crosstown rivals the Lampman Cubs, or travel long distances to play their cross-province rivals -- Mervin, Saltcoats, and Dinsmore -- I fell in love with small town ball.
in late October 2017, I took a road trip to spend two days interviewing George Mahaffy about the Sceptre squad in late 40's and early 50's. If you've driven through this little town now, and didn't bother to check out the Great Sand Hills Museum, you might think, "Hm. Nothing to see there." But Sceptre is rich in history -- especially baseball history, and I look forward to bringing a little of it to life in November.
Thank you Mark, Mikael, and Tyler for believing in this show. I can't wait to get started on Monday.
What a magical evening.
July 7. Heritage Hall, Ogema Saskatchewan. Arleene Johnson Noga's hometown. We were honoured to be asked to perform Diamond Girls at the Ogema Agricultural Society's annual fair.
When I decided to relaunch Diamond Girls last year, I added a few more stories about the Saskatchewan ladies: Julie's letter home, Elsie's wedding dress, Arleene's allocation to Fort Wayne, to name a few. How rewarding it was to have an audience hanging on every word during Arleene's interview by South Tribune reporter Chet Grant. And to have so many of Arleene's extended family come forwards after the performance to have their pictures taken with Amanda and our banner of the diminutive third sacker, iron lady, slugging stenographer, and Canadian women's AAGPBL spokesperson.
A gentleman stepped forward to tell me that he had gone to school with Mary Baker's daughter Chick and that he knew Mary. While we swapped stories, Amanda's fans jockeyed for a photo opp.
Earlier in the day I went for a ride on the Heritage train from Ogema to Horizon and back. This is well worth your trip, as is a visit to Solo Italia on Main Street for a reasonably priced and delicious wood fired pizza.
We can hardly wait for September and Indian Head!
Two weeks and eight performances later, we're back on Saskatchewan soil at last and off the Adelaide Fringe rollercoaster. We have many positive memories of our experiences in South Australia -- and a few we'd like to forget. For starters, dragging the set between venues in a hockey bag and performing for a ladies softball team that was well into the National Wine Centre's provisions beforehand. Flyering was a battle -- with restrictions on where and when this could happen -- and the competition of so many other events: the Adelaide 500, Ed Sheeran, and Adelaide Festival. However, there were countless opportunities to learn more about this craft we call the performing arts from so many brilliant professionals in circus, standup, cabaret, and theatre. And, our little show was loved by our audiences, many of whom were fans of the game and of the movie. Amanda received rave professional reviews, and the recognition of her craft and hard work is enough for all of us.
Besides performing, there was time to run or walk on the beach, swim with dolphins, feed kangaroos, watch horse races, taste wine, drink coffee, and eat great vegan and not-so-vegan fare. If you have never visited Glenelg/Adelaide in "Mad March," consider a trip. You won't be starved for entertainment! Until next time, Australia.
Two days after leaving Vancouver -- traveling via Air Canada/Jet Star to Sydney then Adelaide -- we are halfway around the world, getting set to stage Diamond Girls at the National Wine Centre. We did manage to arrive without our set/hockey bag, so that is creating some stress. Thankfully we have two more days to settle in before we open at 4:30 pm on March 3rd. I'm hopeful Amanda will be doing so with our back drops, bench, and bat!
We're staying in Glenelg, about 45 minutes from the CBD/Fringe because -- well, if you're traveling 15 000 km from home, you might as well be a stone's throw from the beach. And what a beach. We can hardly wait to run beside it, dive into it, and dig our toes in the sand.
Looking forward to supplying you with updates (and pictures) of our adventures down under. Goodday mate!
In just 10 days, Diamond Girls will head Down Under for the Adelaide Fringe Festival. The last few weeks has been a whirlwind of preparation, as you can see from the list below:
Find venues - check!
Apply for work visas - check!
Purchase public liability and travel insurance - check!
Acquire hockey bag for transporting set (how Canadian, eh?) - check!
Be a presence daily on Twitter and Facebook - check!
Create package of materials for YEP! school program - check!
Order promotional banner (pictured below) and flyers - check!
Order company T-shirts (pictured above) - check!
Coordinate performance in Saskatoon - check!
Checking the weather forecast in Adelaide daily - check!
So looking forward to seeing what fruit all our labours will yield.
It has been a busy six weeks for the cast and crew of Diamond Girls. Amanda Trapp and Kenn McLeod started rehearsals in early September. We decided to give the show an entirely new look, dumping the projections we used prior to the 2016 version and utilizing a new trenchcoat, uniform (and mini!), and backdrop. The bench alone remains the same, although it won't be able to accompany us to . . . (wait for it) . . . Australia! Yes, Diamond Girls will be taking on international audiences, traveling to the world's 2nd largest fringe festival in Adelaide, South Australia in March 2018.
We are still looking for audiences in Canada and will hopefully have news for you soon in that regard. In the meantime, we have a few pending performances in our neck of the woods - Weyburn on October 29th, Lloydminster on November 5th, and Estevan on November 19th.
Plans are in the works for an Ontario tour in June and July 2018. We've applied to four fringe festivals (London, Toronto, Hamilton, and Ottawa), as well as the CAFF lottery. We should be able to finalize our plans by the end of December.
Amanda is getting fabulous reviews, and we are so proud of the hard work she has done. A few new stories have been added to the script, as well as a Question and Answer session after each performance. It is a wonderful opportunity for audiences to interact with Amanda, Kenn, and myself, and get the "skinny" both on these fabulous Saskatchewan women, Wrigley's vision for female professional baseball, and what it takes to get Diamond Girls from the page to the stage.
Hopefully we'll be bringing this show to your community very soon!
After a four week hiatus, we rolled into Calgary to perform at the International Sports Heritage Association's annual conference, hosted by the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. And what a performance it was!
Diamond Girls was followed by Autumn's powerpoint presentation on the use of social media to promote the SSHF and Diamond Girls, and a Q and A. I had my concerns about how American sports heritage enthusiasts would feel about our Canadian content, but in three words -- they loved us. I had viewed this week as being the end of the road for this launch of Diamond Girls, but you just never know.
Thank you Janice Smith and Greg Beausoliel for being such gracious hosts in your facility. Thank you Sheila and Autumn and SSHF for all you have done to make this journey possible. We love being part of such an amazing trifecta -- sports, history, and theatre. What a wonderful marriage.
After a very successful show in Battleford last Tuesday, we boarded a plane in Saskatoon and headed for Toronto. The venue was the perfect size for our show -- but it was hot. Thankfully we were able to borrow some fans to help move air. Keith built us a duplicate set in his garage in TO, and it worked perfectly. Now we just have to figure out how to get it back to the farm!
The audiences in TO were small but appreciative, and Malia and Shelby rocked the show, despite the heat. They had a little time for shopping and meeting with friends, a well deserved reward after a long summer.
I took a side strip on August 26 to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Mary's, not far from Stratford. If you are a die-hard Expo or Blue Jays fan, this is a must see. I hope to get Randy there one day. After a tour from staff members Wayne and Scott, I met with Bill Rayner, the person who submitted the nomination to get the Canadian AAGPBL ladies into the Hall back in 1998. The nomination were accepted on the first ballot. Jackie Robinson is the only previous inductee who was honoured in this way. Quite an achievement for Bill -- and for Arleene, who was instrumental in the process.
We're headed back to Saskatoon tonight. Looking forward to our wheels touching down on prairie soil.
I am sitting in my hotel room in Battleford, getting myself mentally braced for the events of this week. We have four shows total -- one in Battleford tomorrow night, two in Toronto on August 25 and 26, and a final show on Sunday in Saskatoon. That will close off the first, very long chapter of our Diamond Girls journey.
And what a journey it has been.
We did better than we ever dreamed in Edmonton. Three sellouts out of six and another that was damn close. We had an overwhelmingly positive response. One patron told me Diamond Girls was her second favourite show out of all the ones she has seen. To be named in the same breath as Nashville Hurricane, a juggernaut of a show at the Big Fringes, was a huge honour.
Since July 5th (when we started at St. Mary's Anglican in Regina) we have made new friends, learned a lot (and learned at the same time that we have a lot left to learn -- if that makes any sense), and have been humbled by the good wishes of our friends and family all over the country.
Diamond Girls is a feel-good show, and it feels damn good to be doing it.
It also feels damn good to think about sleeping in my own bed in just one week.