West Coast playwrights Suzanne Ristic and Linda A. Carson are at work on their first collaborative production – a play that explores the relationships people have with their cars.
Their play, Driving Me Crazy, follows a family – grandmother, parents and young adult children – and looks into the roles vehicles play in their lives. The story is told through scenes and monologues.
The longtime friends conceived of the play three years ago when, as part of an informal writing group, they realized they were interested in the same subject matter.
“I began writing three short scenes about driving in the car with my husband. I can’t ever get into the car with him without fighting about it,” said Ristic, who lives in New Westminster.
Concurrently, Carson, a Bowen Islander, was writing monologues about her 85-year-old mother’s effort to keep her driver’s licence and, by extension, her independence.
“About the same time that Suzanne was doing her writing my son took a ride with Suzanne and her husband in their car and my son came in the door and said that was the funniest drive of this entire life,” Carson said. “And that’s when Suzanne was writing these scenes and I said, ‘Suzanne, I think we might have a show about driving.”
The pair have so far taken their script to two readings as a way to observe the way actors approach the material and work out the kinks. On Jan. 15 TheatreOne is presenting a reading at Harbour City Theatre.
Carson said the script has been resonating strongly with audiences. She said their last reading in Gibsons was particularly successful.
“Afterward, they said they’d been having this reading series for two years and after the play it was the most the audience had ever talked after the play. They kept talking about the play and driving,” Carson said.
“I think the neat thing about readings is as a public you get to see the actors working on their craft,” Ristic added. “You get to see them at this really lovely, raw stage of making choices and making decisions and trying out stuff. I always enjoyed watching readings. It’s very raw and fresh.”
Ristic said the upcoming reading in Nanaimo will help them determine how the play is progressing. She said it won’t be long before the script is ready for the stage.
“This reading is going to really tell us and the actors will be able to tell us and [TheatreOne artistic associate] Nicolle Nattrass, who’s dramaturging, will be able to tell,” she said. “I think we’re ready to have a weeklong workshop with some actors and then into a rehearsal period and get it up on its feet. I think it’s close.”
WHAT’S ON … Linda A. Carson and Suzanne Ristic present Driving Me Crazy at the Harbour City Theatre on Jan. 15 at 7:30 p.m. Admission by $10 donation by donation at the door.