Doreen Brownstone and Me: the deep background

When I first thought of writing a blog about the Doreen Brownstone scripted feature project, I figured the first post after the launch of the Indiegogo campaign should be about how the idea for the project started.  I generally think of it as having begun at a reading I attended four or so years ago…but then I realized that wasn’t really right.

The beginning was really over 20 years ago.  The summer of 1993 was full of exciting firsts for me including (but not limited to): I had just finished my first year of university; I had gotten accepted into the School of Med Rehab (Occupational Therapy) to start in the fall; I was cast in my first fringe show; and as if that wasn’t fabulous (I’d say “awesome”, but it was 1993, so we didn’t use that word that way yet) enough, I was also cast in my first ever Rainbow Stage show: Fiddler on the Roof, directed by Tibor Feheregyhazi. Things were definitely coming up Stefanie.

I was part of the non-Equity chorus, but it was a professional show—my first—and, for a starry-eyed 18 year old, the whole thing was a pretty exciting big deal.

I was in the Mamas’ chorus and I had a few lines, and a tiny solo at the beginning of “The Rumour” (I could still sing it for you if you’d like), which meant I was speaking directly to Yente, Yente! A real character in the play! (exclamation marks belong to the starry-eyed-18-yr-old me).  And Yente was, of course, played by Doreen Brownstone.

What I really remember about Doreen from that show is how genuinely nice she was to me: inclusive, collegial and kind. The fact that I was just in the chorus, or that I was just 18 and had never done this before did not seem to affect how she treated me. As the English might say, “there was no side to her”.

She invited me to come into her dressing room to visit, which I did more than once.  Those visits form my strongest memories of Doreen.  I remember that I learned she had come to Winnipeg as a war bride, and that we talked about Great Britain: Leeds, Yorkshire where she grew up, and St. Andrew’s Scotland where I had recently lived.

After that show, it was about 10 years before Doreen and I crossed paths again but, I realize in retrospect, the memory of her behaviour towards me informed how my then nascent understanding of how a professional could, and should, behave, and formed part of the standard I try to live up to.

And, now that I’ve stopped to think about it, I realize that Doreen’s experienced, inclusive collegiality 20 years ago has not only informed who I am today, and undoubtedly planted the seed of wanting to work directly with Doreen again, which ultimately led us here.

So, that’s the deep, deep background.  In my next post I’ll talk about the more recent ‘beginning’ of the project; unless, of course, I get side tracked onto something else.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the project, check out the video for our Indiegogo campaign, posted below, or available by following this link