Playwright’s Note: Closer and Closer Apart

Apr 19, 2007

I wrote Closer and Closer Apart in 1999, based on a story a friend told me one evening. Her father, a very successful architect, a man who wore a three-piece suite every day (even to the cabin on holidays) had developed Alzheimer’s Disease. He was the last person she could have imagined would ever be afflicted by such a disease, and it was a painful experience to watch this brilliant, dapper man transform into a very different person. It was heart-breaking. How could it not be?
At that time in my life, I was weary of writing plays, thinking of moving on, somehow. I’ve always been an amateur architect in the best sense, and I wondered if I wouldn’t be happier going back to school and studying it, even though it was rather late in life to be changing careers.
Some of my friends discouraged me from leaving the theatre and my successful career as a playwright, and so I did the next best thing to becoming an architect: I wrote a play about one. I used the story of my friend’s father, and so the play became an exploration of two A’s — Alzheimer’s and Architecture.
I wrote the play as a One Act play for Lunchbox Theatre in Calgary. It was produced and did very well for itself. The difficulty with one act plays is that there’s not much of a market for them. For some time now, Bradley Moss has been aware of the play, and was keen to produce it featuring James DeFelice, but it just wasn’t to be. We talked of me writing a companion piece to it, so they could be done together for a complete evening in the theatre, but that just never happened.
Last year, Grant Reddick, who played Joe in the original production, arranged a one time only performance of the play at the Anglican Cathedral in downtown Calgary, as part of the province’s and the cathedral’s 100th anniversary. We ended up doing the play in a few other locations as well, including the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the University of Calgary, as part of Alzheimer’s Awareness Week.
The play was very well received. That evening, in a theatre filled with people who have some person connection to the disease, I was encouraged to seek other production opportunities. I approached Bradley with the idea of adapting it as a full-length play. He commissioned the adaptation, and so tonight you will be seeing the world premiere production of the full-length version of this play.
They say that almost half of all Canadians are directly affected by Alzheimer’s Disease — a family member, a friend of the family, someone we know has it. The numbers are rising, dramatically, frighteningly. If I have a message that I hope my audience will take away from the production, it would be that I hope and pray that we will learn to treat one another, especially the elders of our tribe, with love, patience and compassion.
Thank you.