The Kenneth G. Mills Foundation is delighted to support the production of a provocative new play, Threshold of Magic: The Death and Life of Tom Thomson, written and directed by Dr. Barry Brodie. Dr. Brodie created the play to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation as well as the centenary of Thomson’s death. You can see a performance — presented by Sho Art, Spirit and Performance and featuring Jeffery Bastien — in Ontario on these dates:
July 7, 8 p.m. Art Gallery of Windsor, 401 Riverside Dr. W.
July 8, 2 p.m. Art Gallery of Windsor, 401 Riverside Dr. W.
July 8, 8 p.m. Art Gallery of Windsor, 401 Riverside Dr. W.
July 11, 8 p.m. Heliconian Club, 35 Hazelton Ave., Toronto
July 14, 7:30 p.m. Bank Theatre, 10 Erie St. S., Leamington
July 15, 7:30 p.m. Bank Theatre, 10 Erie St. S., Leamington
July 16, 2 p.m. Bank Theatre, 10 Erie St. S., Leamington
July 19, 8 p.m. Historic Gayety Theatre, 161 Hurontario Street, Collingwood
Presented by the Tom Thomson Art Gallery:
July 21, 7 p.m. Harmony Centre, 890 Fourth Avenue East, Owen Sound
Tom Thomson was a Canadian painter who depicted the vibrant landscapes of northern Ontario. These later became the motif of the artists known as the Group of Seven, whose work he influenced. Paddling on Canoe Lake one day in 1917, Thomson had a mysterious accident and drowned.
In Dr. Brodie’s play, Tom Thomson falls overboard from his canoe with a splash and plummets into the depths where he begins his journey from darkness to light, from life to afterlife. On the journey he meets those friends, family members, and colleagues (voices portrayed also by Bastien and including those of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Lawren Harris) who guided him through life and now guide him through death. These final meditations of Thomson form a picture of his artistic genius, and “we are challenged to ponder … Why does one create? Where does inspiration come from? How, like magic, do we turn thought into action/art? And what remains when we are no longer?” (Bob Steele, CBC broadcaster).
Drawing from historical documents and from conversations with members of the Thomson family, Barry Brodie created and developed the play through workshops at Sho Art, Spirit, and Performance in Windsor, Ontario. Dr. Brodie “brings together meticulous research, technical wizardry, an impressive set, and great acting. He explores threads of Tom Thomson’s life; important influences spin out of the actor’s voices and ‘character signatures.’ An artist finding himself never gets old, and with this play, we are indeed on the threshold of magic” (Angie Littlefield, author of The Thomsons of Durham).
The sponsorship of the Kenneth G. Mills Foundation has enabled the design and construction of a portable, self-contained stage unit for touring this production in and around Windsor as well as to venues throughout Ontario.
From a young age Dr. Brodie has been expressing his creativity through drama. At the University of Toronto he wrote and produced three musical comedies, and his doctoral thesis at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, was a cycle of 12 miracle plays entitled Suddenly Fire! From the mid-1980s to 2004 he collaborated with Canadian poet-philosopher Kenneth G. Mills in adapting Dr. Mills’s lectures and poetry for the stage. Those works included The Force of Sound, Coat of Many Colors (available on CD, https://www.kgmfoundation.org/product-category/the-earthstage-actors/), and A Fool’s Utterance. Dr. Brodie founded and performed with the Earth-Stage Actors, a troupe dedicated to presenting these adaptations.
For news about Barry Brodie’s book, Tom Thomson: On the Threshold of Magic, chronicling his creative journey with the play, see our earlier posting.