Have you ever yearned to discover local love stories? You’ll get your chance when a new, interactive play debuts in Shelburne later this month.
Shelburne’s Basement Theatre commissioned playwright Diana Finegold – an American actor, director, producer and member of the Dramatists Guild of America – to create an original play about the many facets of love based on questionnaires filled out by men and women of all ages and local residents.
The result is Love Lost & Found: Firsts, Flirts, Flings, Fix-Ups, Follies, Forever-Afters –not fiction, not fantasy, not fairy tales, but real-life stories.
This interactive play, which features a series of vignettes, each telling a different story, will be presented at Shelburne’s Osprey Arts Centre at 8 p.m. on May 24 and May 25, and at 2 p.m. on May 26.
Finegold began working on the script at her home in Philadelphia, Pa. After she arrived in Shelburne in mid-March, she expanded the script, adding scenes based on responses to her questionnaire distributed by the Basement Theatre.
At first, responses were slow coming in. For one thing, Finegold explains, people were wary of revealing their life stories for all the world to see and hear. Or they believed their stories weren’t interesting enough to tell. Or they worried about the audience recognizing them within their story, and the risk was too deeply personal.
But after that initial dry patch, people cast aside their reservations, and the floodgates opened.
“Within two weeks, I had more material than I knew what to do with,” Finegold recalls, laughing. “I got loads of material from Shelburne and the surrounding area, and it was just marvelous. I felt like I was getting beautiful little chips from a kaleidoscope, because everybody’s story was unique. That’s why I love talking to people. I really feel very privileged that I have been the recipient of these tales from the heart.”
Besides Finegold, the cast features Rita Crosbie, Alison Stanton, Chris Curry, George Thorburn, Mya Chidiac, Charbel Chidiac, Amiya Hartley, Naniya Trevors, Nilah Trevors, Ingrid D’Eon, Jay Pilzer, Guy Tipton, Chett Buchanan and Therese Cruz.
The crew includes Melissa Strachan, Susan Hoover and Zea Jones.
The show also features live music by Guy Tipton and Common People, Chett and Lisa Buchanan, Clara Jurgenliemk, Jay Pilzer, George Thorburn and Ingrid D’Eon.
Finegold praises her talented cast and crew, who have been hard at work turning her words into performances.
“I used every single person I auditioned, not because I wanted to be generous, but because everybody was so good. I was thrilled.”
Finegold says she has enjoyed creating this exploration of life and love for the Basement Theatre members and their audiences.
“I think our stories are like the blood that flows through our veins, and they need to be expressed. They’re wonderful, beautiful stories that nurture and heal everyone, not just those who have experienced them. So I have tried to use almost everything that was given to me.”
Not only are local “how we met” stories featured in Love Lost & Found, but the audience gets to get in on the act, too. The printed program will include a list of five questions audience members can answer at intermission.
Finegold will choose the most entertaining responses to be read aloud by the cast. Then the audience will vote on the three best real-life stories, whose authors will win free tickets to an Osprey event.
Finegold, who has subsequently received even more “how we met” stories, hopes to make this an annual love-fest in Shelburne.
“I’m putting those responses in a separate file, and I will use those pieces in the next production.”
If you go: Tickets for Love Lost & Found cost $17 for adults, $7 for students, and are available at TLC Pharmasave, the Osprey box office and any Atlantic Canada Ticketpro outlet.
For the May 24, opening night, the Osprey is offering a special deal: Bring an Osprey Arts Centre newcomer, and that first-time guest pays only $2 admission. To order tickets, visit ospreyartscentre.ca or call 902-875-2359 or 1-888-311-9090.