Playwright’s Note: Choke

Nov 01, 2007

So. My Grandmother, Marcella, who turned 90 this year, took care of my Grandfather, Bertrand, at home for nineteen years after he had a massive stroke. Like Catherine, he was also quite young when he had his stroke, which left him not as paralyzed but with more brain injury. Post-stroke, my Grandpa found most things fun and hilarious and nice. That’s an uncomfortable gift, hey? Witnessing, first hand, my Grandmother’s devotion and selflessness, even on such a small, personal scale has left me with a pretty clear feeling of what it means to really be there for someone.
I would like to dedicate this production to her.
My Grandma, however, thinks that what I should write is a book. I guess that sounds reasonable. I mean, I think that SHE should write a book – so fair’s fair. The only thing is that I can’t find time to write a book because I can’t stop writing plays. I love the collaborative and immediate nature of theatre. I make things up for a living and mostly I enjoy doing it with other people.
People, for example, like Marianne Copithorne and Bradley Moss and the fabulous artists and designers who have worked on Choke. Since this is a new work, I’ll give you a little background on the play’s development. Brad agreed to commission Choke for Network when I approached him with the premise in 2005. After completing a couple of drafts, I discussed the play with Marianne (now on board to direct) and Brad. I then completed another draft, which we workshopped in August with the cast. We had a brief workshop attached to the beginning of rehearsals and I’ve fiddled and tweaked during the rehearsal process for as long as they would let me. Love it.
If you will indulge me, I would like to thank a few of the directors and dramaturgs who have, over recent years, given me the gift of their theatrical and human insight: along with Marianne and Brad, there’s Stewart Lemoine, Julien Arnold, Ron Jenkins, Vern Thiessen, Jeff Page, Sandy Ibrahim, and Andrea Rabinovitch. My gratitude also goes to the many actors and designers whose brains I have picked and picked… And super special thanks goes to my genius actor/improv colleagues at Die-Nasty! who let me collaborate and ‘make things up’ with them every week.
Cathleen Rootsaert