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kayak 02Opening at Theatre Conspiracy on January 7, 2016 is Kayak by Jordan Hall.

Alone on a vast stretch of water, Annie Iversen recounts the strange chain of events that left her stranded in her son’s old kayak. A doting suburban mother, Annie is blindsided when her son, Peter, falls in love with Julie, a passionate environmental activist. Unable to reconcile herself to Julie’s radical worldview, Annie struggles desperately to keep Peter from falling further into the young woman’s dangerous world. Climate change, S’mores, SUVs, and Noah’s ark are all onstage as Annie sets out to save her son, and unwittingly throws herself into the path of events larger than she ever could have imagined.

kayak 01This show will star Lauren Drexler and is directed by Stephen Hooper. Performances will take place on January 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23 at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. matinee on January 17. Tickets are $24 or $11 for women under 41 years of age and students with proper ID. Opening night January 7 is “pay what you will” and Thursdays are “buy one, get one half off”. Tickets may be purchased online at or by calling 239-936-3239.

Continue reading below for more information about this production, its playwright, director and actors.


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Stephen Hooper embarked upon 30 year theater career because he didn’t know what he was doing tomorrow (01-20-16)

Drexler Close UpOn stage now in the Foulds Theatre at the Alliance for the Arts is Jordan Hall’s Kayak. It is directed by Stephen Hooper, who embarked upon a career in theater 30 years ago.

Hooper did not study theater in college. In fact, he did not get into theater until he’d been practicing law for a number of years. Then he started acting on a whim.

“I was a trial lawyer, and one day my partners came to me and asked what I was doing tomorrow, Stephen Hooper 02Sand I replied, ‘I don’t know, what am I doing tomorrow?’” They said ‘You’re coming with us to audition for a play.’ I used to clown around and do impressions of people, so they thought I’d enjoy acting.’

The play was A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, and Hooper was still in his late 20s at the time. He got the plum role of Senex [A henpecked, sardonic Roman senator living in a less fashionable suburb of Rome]. They made me up to look like I was 75, put me in a toga, and I sang and danced in my first production.”

Stephen Hooper 01Unbeknownst to Hooper, there was a director in the house at the final performance at that show. “In musicals, it’s tradition for the actors to greet the audience in the lobby after the performance. The director came up to me and asked me what I was doing tomorrow. I said, ‘I don’t know, what am I doing tomorrow?’ He replied, ‘I have a part for you in my next play. We start rehearsal tomorrow night.’ He pressed his card into my hand. I went down and ended up doing a lot of shows for him, but the role was that of a blackmailing extortionist janitor, and I’ve been doing theater ever since.”

Although Hooper may not have studied theater formally Hooper & Drexler 01in college, he did observe and learn from every director he’s had the pleasure of working with. “Everything I know about theater I’ve learned from all the directors in the plays in which I’ve performed. Bob Cacioppo at the Rep, Al Richter, Bill Taylor at Theatre Conspiracy and Lauren, who directed me in The Eight: The Reindeer Monologues.”

And speaking of Bob Cacioppo and Florida Repertory Theater, you can see Stephen Hooper in Twelve Angry Men. “I’m one of the jurors,” Hooper proclaims. And it won’t be his last role either. “If there’s theater, I’m there.”

Until then, what Hooper would really like is for people to catch one of the remaining performances of Jordan Hall’s Kayak. Please see above for remaining play dates, times and ticket information.



Presenting ‘Kayak’ in the round presented director and actors with myriad challenges and opportunities (01-16-16)

Taylor on Public Art Committee January 2013Although theater in the round was the accepted format in ancient Greece and Rome and has been revived in American and British productions since 1940, it remains a rarely used theatrical configuration. Kayak director Stephen Hooper has acted in such a production during his 30-year career, as has Kayak star Lauren Drexler, but this is the first time he has ever directed in the round. And it wasn’t even his idea!

“When I read the script, I originally envisioned the suspending the kayak from the ceiling by Stephen Hooper 02Sinvisible lines to that you could mimic an Eskimo roll or turn the kayak over on its side,” Hooper recounts. “Then [Producing Director] Bill [Taylor] said, ‘I can do you one better. What if we put the kayak on wheels and do it in the round.’ As soon as he said it, I knew that was the way to do this play. But that’s the way Bill and I work. It’s a synergistic relationship that we have.”

But Kayak wasn’t written with this type of staging in mind. “The play was originally staged with the kayak static, bow facing downstage, stern upstage, with Annie sitting in it and being accosted on either side by Peter and Julie, who then go upstage to do things like protests, which presents the danger of kayak on wheelsupstaging Annie. That potential is removed by staging the play in the round and using lighting to keep the audience’s attention on Annie.”

Hooper and Taylor called the playwright to see what she thought. “We discussed the staging with her a couple of times via Skype, but it really wasn’t until she came down for the second and third performances that it opened her eyes up to the possibilities with the kayak being movable.”

Kayak 11Of course, everything hinged on getting the motors for the kayak to run quietly, like a submarine. “Oddly, that turned out to be the least challenging aspect of the whole production. Playing videos and working light and sound cues proved to be far more difficult.”

Mariner High Robotics Club members Robert Herring and Josh Wiggins were the ones who motorized the kayak and made it run as quiet as a Shinolo watch. “They said it would be possible to Kayak 03Shave Lauren operate the kayak from inside the kayak, but we decided early on that that would be just too much for Lauren to do. So August [Taylor] operates the kayak from a perch on the stage above the theater floor. The floor is marked with spots where the kayak needs to be as the play progresses, and those places are identified on August’s copy of the script so he knows where and when to move the kayak.”

Kayak 01SHooper ran into another wrinkle. He could not gain access to the Foulds Theatre until two weeks before the opening. That forced him to have the actors rehearse the play without being able to simultaneously learn where to enter, exit or stand on stage during each scene or line of dialogue. “I told the actors at the table read [which is the very first rehearsal, where the actors typically sit in a circle and read their parts aloud] that the play Kayak 04Swas going to be staged in the round. But I knew we weren’t going to have the Foulds Theater available for rehearsal until mid-December, so I had everybody get off book [that is, have all their lines memorized] first, before we ever blocked the play. The actors were very committed and very good. By Kayak 05Shaving them off book when we finally did the blocking made it possible for them to easily adapt to the changes in movement that were necessitated as we worked through staging the action in the round.”

Of course, Hooper did have the three cast members Kayak 02Sdo spatial blocking as they were learning their lines. Hooper divided the rehearsal space into quadrants so that they could practice breaking one of the cardinal rules of the theater that every actor is taught – never turning your back on the audience. “Here, they had to,” Hooper explains. “So I would have them deliver the first part of a Kayak 06Sline of dialogue facing the first quadrant, the next phrase facing the next quadrant, then another quadrant and another so that no one in the audience is ever deprived of being able to see each actor’s face.”

Hooper resorted to elementary school physical science to help the actors conceptualize what he needed. “We started to do that at the very first rehearsal with Annie in the middle like a planet Kayak 07Sand the other two actors moving around her like moons,” Hooper points out. “Then once the Foulds Theatre became available, we began to move Annie around the floor of the theater, but that didn’t mean that the moon would change in relationship to the planet. But they did have to make sure that they did not collide with each other,” Hooper chuckles.

Hooper also used magnets to analogize how he Stephen Hooper 01wanted his actors to interact with one another. “There are times when they are very attracted to each other and other times when they repel each other, so I used magnets to explain what we were trying to convey. I used elementary school science to try to explain interpersonal relationships, and it seemed to work.”

In the end, Hooper and actors Lauren Drexler, Juan Alejandro and Alex Holmes put together a very powerful, highly evocative performance denoted by strong and insightful acting. That alone warrants your attendance at this show. But really. How many times will you have the opportunity to see a play performed in the round? With a motorized kayak bobbing in imaginery water? You really gotta see this play for yourself. It’s must-see theater.

Please see above for remaining play dates, times and ticket information.



Director Stephen Hooper dishes on ‘Kayak’ cast (01-15-16)

Stephen Hooper 02SOn stage now in the Foulds Theater at the Alliance for the Arts is Theatre Conspiracy’s production of Jordan Hall’s Kayak. It stars Lauren Drexler as Annie Iversen, a middle-aged suburban mom who is at war with her son’s girlfriend, Julie, an ecological activist who is putting Peter at risk by dragging him to rallies in places like China, where foreign protesters can be jailed, if not shot and killed. Newcomer Alex Holmes plays the contentious Julie and Juan Alejandro plays the part of Peter, a boy becoming a man caught in the middle of two willful women.

“When [Producing Director] Bill Taylor asked me to read the script, I asked him just one question. Will Lauren do it?” recounts Drexler Close Up 2director Stephen Hooper. “He took the script back and gave it to Lauren, who then called me and said ‘Let’s do it, Cody, an affectionate nickname she saddled him with after he received a Citizen of the Year from the National Association of Social Workers several years ago.

“You can’t go wrong directing Lauren,” Hooper adds. “She is an absolutely terrific actress. She is very dynamic on so many levels, pretty inside and out.”

When there are only three actors in a production, they need to work hard, get along together and they need to Drexler Close Upbuy into your vision of the play. Hooper got that when Theatre Conspiracy added Juan Alejandro and Alex Holmes to the cast.

“Holmes is just terrific,” says Hooper. “When she auditioned, the only thing I asked her to read was the Noah speech.” It’s a fairly lengthy monologue during which she gives a harrowing alternative account of the story of Noah and the great flood.

“When she wasn’t on stage during the rehearsal process, she’d be watching and would ask very Stephen Hooper 01provocative questions,” muses Hooper. “She’s very mature for her age. She gets things. One of the coolest things about this directing experience is that [playwright] Jordan Hall leaves so much open to question that there was the latitude for us to create an interchange of ideas about what we thought was going on and we’d discuss it, come to some consensus and then move on to the next scene. It was wonderful working with them. Alex, Juan and Lauren brought so much to the final production.”

You can see the final product for yourself through January 23. See above for play dates, times and ticket information. And continue reading for more stories, profiles and reviews of this play, its actors and Canadian playwright Jordan Hall.



Alex Holmes’ portrayal of Julie in Jordan Hall’s ‘Kayak’ leaves audience bracing for next verbal onslaught (01-14-16)

JulieOn stage in the Foulds Theatre at the Alliance for the Arts is Kayak, starring Lauden Drexler as controlling suburban mom, Annie Iversen, Juan Alejandro as her besotted son, Peter, and Alex Holmes as his eco-activist girlfriend, Julie. As you might imagine, Annie and Julie mix like oil and water. Annie thinks Julie is an over-the-top eco-evangelist who is only using her son, and putting his life in danger, to advance her own activist agenda. Julie thinks that Annie is an Drexler Close Upunconscionable gas-guzzling, carbon-producing control freak who wants Peter to turn a blind eye to the havoc being wrecked on the planet by members of her conspicuous consumption generation and social class.

Holmes sizzles in the role of Julie. Thanks to a script in which every line of dialogue and every scene heightens the tension between all three characters, she is given rein to confront, challenge and even menace her ersatz nemesis and her Kayak 10Smama’s-boy boyfriend. She has no tolerance for, and gives no quarter to, anyone – Peter included – who refuses to mobilize and join her crusade against everything and anyone who threatens the ecology, the environment and its various inhabitants, whether whales in the northern Pacific, rain forests in South America or unwitting residents who will be living in the shadows of the world’s largest dam if the Chinese government has its way. And to impress her point, she circles Annie and her kayak like a powerful Orca.

Alex delivers her lines with such seething anger and Alex Holmessimmering resentment that the audience finds itself bracing for her next verbal onslaught even when she is not on stage. But hers is not a one-dimensional performance. The actress is capable of evincing introspection, vulnerability and unexpected tenderness as she reveals in her scene with Annie when she promises not to take Peter with her to China even though it means giving up her lifeline to returning home, resuming her studies and establishing something that resembles a normal life, at least for her.

Folks who regularly attend Fort Myers Art Walk in the River District may recall Alex from a handful of years ago when she regularly served as a Model Mayhem muse for budding artists who assembled on the sidewalk outside the Sidney & Berne Art Center to sketch models provided by the dear-departed Dr. Sketchy. Alice and the Red Queen 03SEven there, she displayed theatrical presence and skills she’d developed since she began acting at the age of just two. She continued to love the stage throughout high school and recently carried that love onto the stage as a collegiate. Her role as Julie in Kayak is her first non-high school performance, and will clearly not be her last.

You can see Alex, Lauren Drexler and Juan Alejandro as Julie, Annie Iversen and Peter in Jordan Hall’s Kayak at Theatre Conspiracy. Please see above for remaining play dates, times and ticket information.



Spotlight on Kayak’s man in the middle, Juan Alejandro (01-13-16)

Kayak 10SOn stage in the Foulds Theatre at the Alliance for the Arts is Kayak, starring Lauden Drexler as controlling suburban mom, Annie Iversen, Juan Alejandro as her besotted son, Peter, and Alex Holmes as his eco-activist girlfriend, Julie. As you might imagine, Annie and Julie mix like oil and water, and Peter finds himself in the middle, vainly trying to mediate an uneasy peace between the two women in his life.

Alejandro is overjoyed to once again be working with Theatre Conspiracy, where he previously portrayed Septimus Hodge in the 2015 production of Arcadia. Bird Flew 13Juan’s other acting credits include Ty in this season’s Lab Theater 24-Hour Playwriting Project winner, The Bird Flew (pictured right), Patrick Chibas in Spinning into Butter and Steve Grimes in Good People with the Naples Players, along with Percy Bysshe Shelley in Bloody Poetry at the FGCU Theatre Lab.

Please see above for remaining play dates, times and ticket information.



Lauren Drexler stars as pushy suburban mom Annie Iversen in Theatre Conspiracy’s production of ‘Kayak’ (01-10-16)

Drexler Close UpOn stage now through January 23 in the Foulds Theater at the Alliance for the Arts is Kayak, a play written by Canadian playwright Jordan Hall, directed by Stephen Hooper and starring Lauren Drexler as Annie Iversen, Juan Alejandro as her son Peter, and Alex Holmes as his girlfriend Julie.

Drexler turns in a stellar performance. Not only does she have the bulk of the lines in this three-person play, she is confined to a kayak for the course of the entire performance. That’s a feat not Drexler Close Up 2only because of the physical limitations it imposes upon her delivery of sharp, witty dialogue, but because she is locked in verbal combat for most of the play with a woman half her age who roundly condemns her for her self-indulgent, gas-guzzling, ecologically irresponsible lifestyle and the control she unabashedly wields over her doting and obsequious son, Peter. But Drexler expertly conveys the angst that any mother would experience over losing her son’s heart and mind to a girl she perceives to be a threat to her son’s welfare and her family’s unity. And she pulls it off with only an oar, some crackers, a few Kayak 08S’mores and a defunct GPS as props.

Thanks to Jordan Hall’s nuanced script, Annie Iversen is not a mere caricature of a pushy suburban mom who threatens to withhold financial support if her son doesn’t take the courses she wants, complete the degree she prefers and follow the career she has chosen for him. But she does not see the similarities between herself and her son’s paramour. Iversen calls Julie self-Kayak 12Srighteous, but she is just as intractable in her own thinking. And in Drexler’s capable hands, she doesn’t even flinch in the slightest as she tells her son that he does not have to settle for a girlfriend who only loves him when and to the extent he measures up to her standards. No, Drexler’s Annie does not recognize that her son has fallen for a girl just like her – controlling, judgmental and willing to guilt the young man into doing what she believes is in his best interests. The only difference is that Julie is brutally honest with Peter, while Drexler’s Annie Hooper & Drexler 01has no problem lying to her son if the occasion warrants it, at least in her own mind.

Lauren is thrilled to be back on Theatre Conspiracy’s stage “in such a wonderful and important work as Kayak.” In the past, Lauren has created roles in Theatre Conspiracy’s new plays and world premieres such as Becoming Eleanor, The Dunes, Here Lie the Demons, and Virgin Tears on Wyoming Avenue. Among her other favorite productions are The Kathy & Mo Show, Medea (which one reviewer called “the role of her lifetime, one which she alone was destined to play for us”), Romance in D, Romantic Fools, No Exit, Dancing at Lughnasa, Frankie & Johnnie at the Clair de Lune, and The Eight: Reindeer Monologues. Drexler has worked with Stephen Hooper before, in two incarnations of Becky’s New Car, the first at the Alliance and the second at the Herb Strauss Theater on Sanibel. Both were Theatre Conspiracy productions.



Theatre Conspiracy’s ‘Kayak’ smartly written, brilliantly staged and well-acted play (01-09-16)

Kayak 01SIf you are one of those theater-goers who is always on the look-out for something new and unusual, then Theatre Conspiracy’s production of Canadian playwright Jordan Hall’s Kayak will likely appeal to you.

First but by no means foremost, the play is performed in the round. If you’re not familiar with the term, that means that the theater floor serves as stage, with rows of seats ascending upwards on Kayak 04Sall four sides. This arrangement forces the audience to engage more intensely with the actors and the action of the play. Not only can reach out and touch the actors, but since you can see the other audience members and they can see you, everyone becomes a performer in a sense since everyone is “on stage.”

Kayak 03SThis set-up works especially well for Kayak, which depicts the play’s central character, Annie Iversen, alone and stranded in her son’s old kayak on a vast stretch of water somewhere in Estero Bay. Portrayed by Lauren Drexler, Annie spends the entire show marooned in a motorized kayak, that spins, rotates and moves back and forth along the theater floor. And because the seating is at or just Kayak 05Sslightly above “ground level,” the audience is made to feel as if they are bobbing in the still waters of Estero Bay right along with Annie. All of us are in the same metaphorical boat which, of course, is one of the themes of Hall’s pressure-packed psychodrama.

kayak on wheelsThat boat is the work of the Mariner High School’s robotics club, otherwise known as “The Marinerds.” At Theatre Conspiracy Artistic Director Bill Taylor’s request, a team led by students Robert Herring and Josh Wiggins modified a motorized wheelchair so that the kayak could be silently moved around the stage using a remote control.

Kayak 02SThe play itself works on multiple planes. Front and center is the issue of our response to the phenomenon of climate change. No, no. This is not some preachy debate over whether climate change is or is not the result of human activities such as burning fossil fuels. It is not a debate about whether those activities are going to lead to Kayak 06Ssignificant and increasingly severe weather events including sea level rise, stronger storms, and more droughts. The storyline in Kayak is more nuanced. Annie Iversen is not a climate change denier. What her son’s environmental activist girlfriend, Julie, condemns her for is her lack of meaningful response to the looming problem. Annie feels that it is enough for her to recycle and perhaps drive a little less. But climate change is too big a problem Kayak 07Sfor her to impact through her actions, voice or vote. And so she myopically goes on with her comfortable upper-middle class lifestyle, leaving it to nut jobs like Julie to make good people uncomfortable and tilt vainly and ineffectually at the climate change windmill (to mix a metaphor).

Hall’s Julie issues the metaphorical clarion call to us all that dire consequences are sure to follow our lack of committed, strident activism for the Kayak 08reduction of greenhouse gases, protection of the planet’s dwindling rain forests, and unbridled decimation of threatened species like tuna, whales, elephants and rhinos. Annie’s initial response is to recoil from Julie’s entreaties, but then is forced to oppose the young girl at every turn as Julie seeks to involve Annie’s son, Peter, to join her in protesting irresponsible corporate and government action in places where dissenters can and are beaten, locked up and even killed.

Kayak 09SThrough the character of Julie, Hall asks each audience member “Are you doing enough to combat global warming and other ecological transgressions and violations?”

At another level, the play raises the question, if not specter, that our response to environmental problems may set a divide between Millennials, Kayak 10SGen-Xers and Baby Boomers, create a rift between the conspicuous-consuming haves and the nothing-to-lose have-nots, increase the gulf of chasm that already exists between the more and the less educated. Hall’s script is deliciously ambiguous on these points, leaving the audience free to draw their own conclusions.

And that’s also the case when it comes to the three-party conflict that embroils Annie, Julie and Peter. While both Julie and Chris make appearances throughout the play, what the audience really knows Jordan Hall 04Sof them is filtered through the lens of Annie’s mind. You see, Annie has been afloat in that kayak of her son’s for nearly six days. Dehydration and the sun are beginning to take their toll on Annie’s ability to think clearly (if not, keeping it real, her coiffed hair and make-up). She reminisces. She processes. She confounds herself and perhaps even the audience. Is Peter really the fawning mama’s boy who turns himself inside out trying to keep the peace between his mother and his outspoken Jordan Hall 01Sgirlfriend rather than stand up for what he knows is right? Is Julie really a manipulative, self-destructive eco-evangelist who only loves Peter when and to the extent he measures up to her standards? It is only when Annie begins to hallucinate that the audience begins to see through the crack of her maternal veneer.

The mark of any good story is that it leaves a Jordan Hall 03Slasting impression on the reader/listener/viewer, and that’s the case with Kayak. Susceptible to varied interpretations, the ending will leave each audience member with lots to ponder and debate. Not the least of which is Julie’s poignant variation on the Biblical story of Noah and the Ark. Whereas Annie and Peter take at face value Noah’s righteousness and the evil of his fellow men and women, Julie asks what kind of man would allow his friends, neighbors and all the people in the surrounding countryside to drown in the great flood while he, his family and two of every animal sit safely in the ark? Did they knock the desperate, clinging masses from the bow of the great ship with their oars, Julie asks. Jordan Hall 05SDid they pour boiling oil on them? Were Noah and his family not the real murderers?

What a powerful metaphor! Are we, in our self-absorbed consumptive society, not all modern-day Noahs, dooming the less fortunate here and abroad to the floods, fires and intense storms to be spawned by climate change, whether manmade or man-accelerated?

Something to think about.

Jordan Hall 06SIf you’re intrigued by the foregoing, there is actually one more reason to see this play. The performances turned in by Lauren Drexler as Annie Iversen, Alex Holmes as Julie and Juan Alejandro as Peter are worth twice the price of admission. Hall builds tension into every line of dialogue and every plot twist and turn. Drexler and Holmes thrive on the conflict, with Holmes excelling to the point that even if you agree with Kayak 11her political and moral positions, you still find yourself rooting for Annie to reach out and slap the impudent little cuss.

Do not miss this smartly written, brilliantly staged and well-acted play.

See above for remaining play dates, times and ticket information.



Opening performance of ‘Kayak’ to benefit Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition (12-28-15)

kayak 02The January 7th performance of Theatre Conspiracy’s production of Jordan Hall’s Kayak will benefit Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition, a group of non-profit organizations working together to conserve, protect and restore Florida’s coastal and marine environment. The play pits a doting, suburban mom against her son’s passionate environmental activist girlfriend, putting climate change, rising sea levels and environmental responsibility front and center. The Coalition emphasizes the implementation of an eco-system-based approach to coastal and ocean management, as well as recognition of the important link between the health of Florida’s economy and the health of its beaches and dunes, coral reefs, kayak 03mangroves, sea grasses, wetlands and other natural resources. Made up of representatives of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1000 Friends of Florida, Sea Turtle Conservancy, Surfrider Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, the Coalition seeks to (a) promote state and, when appropriate, federal action to curb unwise coastal development and protect coastal Jordan Hall 04and marine habitats, (b) implement and enforce coastal and ocean pollution laws, (c) protect marine ecosystems, (d) ensure robust and plentiful fisheries and marine species, (e) reduce global warming pollution, and (f) strengthen coastal and ocean governance in Florida. Fifty percent of the opening night ticket sales will go to benefit the Coalition.



Theatre Conspiracy enlists Mariner High Robotics club to create ‘robotic Kayak’ (12-27-15)

kayak 03Theatre Conspiracy has enlisted the assistance of the Mariner High School’s Robotics club to create a “robotic Kayak” that can be remotely controlled to travel around the stage. Club members Robert Herring and Josh Wiggins have spent the last month and a half converting a used motorized wheelchair for this purpose. They have added remote control capability as well as extra battery kayaks 04jpeglife so the “robot” can last for the full length of the show.

Also known as the “Marinerds,” the Mariner High Robotics Club is a year-long organization designed to provide dedicated, innovative students an opportunity to showcase their potential and grow their inner self. The club is diverse both socially and activity wise. During the year the members not only participate in FTC (First® Tech Challenge) kayaks 02jpegcompetitions, but also participate in TSA (Technology Student Association), and Vex Robotics, and many of the club’s members augment their interest in robotics with participation in band, sports and volunteer work.



‘Kayak’ antagonists Annie and Julie represent warring factions residing within playwright Jordan Hall’s own personality (12-26-15)

Jordan Hall 01Jordan Hall’s inspiration for Kayak came during a playwriting master class that she was taking in December of 2008 at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre. “In 2008, I was just starting to realize how much I was invested in the environment,” Hall told The Georgia Straight’s Colin Thompson in 2014. “I was starting to understand the science enough to realize that we are losing. And at just about that same time, we re-elected Stephen Harper [as Prime Minister of Canada], which was unfathomable to me. We’d had him for four years already and it was clear he wasn’t interested in an environmentally positive position. We knew he was disastrous! I was so alienated from people who would vote for him. Who would pick that man?”

Jordan Hall 03While too many of us go out of our way to avoid people with contrary views, Hall created a character in her head who voiced all the reasons why someone would support a politician like Harper and deny the science of climate change and the need for all of us be be environmentally responsible. That character evolved into Annie, Kayak’s central character. “The excuses she was making were fascinating to me, because we all make them,” Hall continues. “We are in a position Jordan Hall 04where there is very little political will or infrastructure to help us live green lives, so we all make our accommodations and try to figure out how to get on with things.”

Annie’s antagonist is her son’s girlfriend, Julie, a passionate environmental activist who is convinced that global warming will have kayak 01disastrous consequences. “She was the sort of girl who floated around the world spraying Japanese whaling boats with fire hoses, planting trees, and making perfectly nice people uncomfortable at parties,” says Annie of the girl who could very well become her daughter-in-law.

The playwright freely kayak 03admits that both Annie and Julie live at war within her own personality. Like Annie, there is a part of Hall that just wants to pretend climate change isn’t happening, who’s tired of trying to be “green,” who just wants to eat a big steak, drive a big gas-guzzling car and myopically yearns for an easy and convenient life. But there’s a part of Hall who is very much like Jordan Hall 02Julie, who is desperate to try to make a difference, to make a better world, to make people wake up and see the truth about what is happening.

But if Kayak was nothing more than a forum for riffing about these contrary political views, the play would bog down and become way too preachy. Hall avoids this by making Kayak essentially about the relationship between two women who are Jordan Hall 05vying for one boy’s affections. Annie Iverson and Julie Daniels are two powerful women who engage in an epic battle for the heart and soul of Annie’s son Peter. Annie is a regular middle-class mother who is concerned enough about the environment to recycle her trash but her mind is far more occupied with making sure Peter finishes his business degree and gets a decent corporate job. Julie, on the other hand, tells Peter that the kayak 02only responsible course of action he can pursue is to support environmental causes wherever they occur, even if that takes them to China to oppose the building of a dam. In that, Kayak gives voice to every parent’s worst nightmare: their son or daughter falling under the spell of some outspoken, strong-willed fanatic, no matter what their cause may be, and the folly of thinking that we can control the course and direction of our children’s lives.

Be that as it may, the environmental clashes within kayak 02Kayak cannot be minimized or disregarded. Hall does not let the audience off the hook by supplying divergent themes. But Hall holds out hope that the green movement will take hold and prevail, a topic she further explores in her Kayak follow-up, How to Survive an Apocalypse. “We have to make it very clear to politicians that if they’re not going to step up and regulate, if they’re not going to step up and figure out how we clean ourselves up, then we’re not going to vote for them anymore,” says Hall, channeling her inner Julie.

With the official start of the 2016 election cycle just days away, Kayak will unquestionably foreshadow the debate we are likely to hear between the eventual Democratic and Republican candidates for president.




Spotlight on ‘Kayak’ playwright Jordan Hall (12-25-15)

kayak 02Jordan Hall is an emerging artist whose work has been dubbed “stellar, insightful” by Plank Magazine, “thoughtful” by CBC Radio, and “vivid, memorable” by NOW. Her first full-length play, Kayak, won Samuel French’s 2010 Canadian Playwrights Competition, and has been produced to critical acclaim across Canada. An Associate at Playwrights Theatre Centre from 2010-2013, Jordan is currently Touchstone Theatre’s 2016 Flying Start playwright, and her most recent play, How to Survive an Apocalypse, will premiere with Touchstone in 2016.

Jordan Hall 03As a screenwriter, Jordan co-created Carmilla: The Series for SmokeBomb Entertainment. She has also been a finalist in both the LA Comedy Fest and Beverly Hills Short Screenplay Competitions, as well as a winner of the Crazy8s Short Film Production Competition. As a dramaturg, Jordan worked on The Hearing of Jeremy Hinzman at the 2012 Summerworks Festival, and spent five years as a mentor for UBC’s Booming Ground program.



Theatre Conspiracy’s ‘Season of the Female Playwright’ continues with Jordan Hall’s ‘Kayak’ (12-24-15)

kayak 02Theatre Conspiracy’s Season of the Female Playwright continues with the opening of Kayak by Canadian Jordan Hall on Thursday, January 7 in the Foulds Theatre at the, Lee County Alliance of the Arts. Winner of the 2010 Samuel French Canadian Playwrights Contest, Kayak is a witty, provocative and deeply personal perspective on state of the world today.

Bleach blond, BWM-driving Annie Iverson teeters alone on a vast stretch of water, recounting the strange chain of events that left her stranded in her son’s old kayak. Catapulted through a storm of memories, Annie struggles to cling to what’s “right” in her ever-shrinking world. A doting suburban mother, Annie was blindsided kayak 03when her son, Peter, fell in love with Julie, a passionate environmental activist. Unable to reconcile herself to Julie’s radical worldview, Annie struggles desperately to keep Peter from falling further into the young woman’s dangerous world. Climate change, S’mores, SUVs, and Noah’s ark are all onstage as Annie sets out to save her son, and unwittingly throws herself into the path Jordan Hall 04of events larger than she ever could have imagined.

The show will star Lauren Drexler as Annie Iversen with Juan Alejandro and Alex Holmes. Stephen Hooper is directing.

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