Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward

From an outside eye it was a cheesy film from 2000 with Kevin Spacey and Haley “I see dead people” Osment that caught my attention because I’m one of those people that likes to cry in a movie theatre and this movie had “weeps” written all over it. And boy did it deliver. But what the movie introduced me to in a more concrete way than I’d previously thought about, was the notion of paying forward the good fortune and opportunity which you had been paid by someone else. It reminded me that not only are we all in this together, but we need to encourage the next generation to ensure that whatever we work we do in our lifetimes isn’t for naught, that it all continues on and on and grows exponentially.

All that from Helen Hunt.

My schedule nowadays is pretty chockablock full. And I’m constantly looking for means to trim activities, involvements, events in order to give myself the space and time I need to write creatively. But one thing I find I’m never able to walk away from are chances to work with young people. I teach (from elementary to college), I mentor novice playwrights, I attend as many productions featuring new theatre professionals as possible. I like to see how writers grow. I am the product of countless opportunities for young creative people in development, and though not everyone will know even what I’m talking about, I think it’s important to acknowledge some of them here: Canterbury High School’s Literary Arts Program, the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre Youth Program, Nightwood Theatre’s Emerging Actors Program, PTC’s various Writer’s Blocks, Sage Theatre’s IGNITE! Festival, The Rhubarb Festival, SummerWorks Festival, Tapestry New Opera Works’ LibLab (I was the youngest participant they’d ever taken), Various Playwrights’ Units, York University’s Creative Ensemble program and Judith Rudakoff’s playwriting class where I discovered dramaturgy, Green Thumb Theatre, heck, The Calgary Boys Choir (yup, I once sang) the list goes on and on, but my memory becomes cloudy at a certain point. And that’s a good thing, that means that I’ve been gifted a lot of opportunities – in some cases on blind faith, and in some cases because people knew that we needed, at a certain point, to help that next generation along.

 And though I’ve painted it to be this really lovely selfless “pay it forward” notion, there is an absolute selfishness to it – in seeing these artists grow it reminds me that as a creative community there is constantly room for growth and improvement, for the work to step into its next phase of evolution, which reminds me that when I write a first draft and it’s absolute drivel, that’s okay. It just needs some time to bake.

Thanks, Haley Joel. 

-October 31, 2013