Carol Libman

Looking Ahead

Robin Haggerty

Joe Szekeres

Even before we began our conversation, I asked playwright Carol Libman about her headshot as I wanted to ensure I included the photographer’s name for credit. She jokingly asked if that was the headshot with the baggy eyes and the messy hair as she called herself a pretty old lady.

I told her I beg to differ as she is one very spry lady who truly loves the theatre and loves how the theatre allows artists to create. I met her the year before the pandemic when I attended her production of ‘Lies and Consequences’ at Toronto’s Red Sandcastle Theatre. I’ll include Carol’s website at the end of her profile as you can find more information about her.

What is it about the theatre that keeps Libman writing stories?

For her, it is the “opportunity to invent, create and see what happens, and also deal with situation and issues that I think are important to me.”

She got in touch with me recently about her upcoming show, ‘Leap of Faith’ that opens the first week of June at Toronto's Village Playhouse.

Before we began to talk about her upcoming production, there were two important questions I wanted to ask. The first was what intrigues her the most about the return to live theatre even though we’re still in the throes of Covid.

Her response was just to be able to get back up there and start creating once again on stage. She felt that Zoom saved artists during the pandemic and doesn’t know what would have happened to the creation process if that application was not there. She spoke about Alumnae Theatre and how Zoom allowed the play development group to keep going. She spoke about the Monday night Cyber reads through Alumnae and how new talent was discovered through it.

The second question dealt with the name of her production company RARE DAY PROJECTS. It’s catchy so I asked her the significance of it.

She was doing a play called ‘A Rare Day in June’ based on the poem “And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever come perfect days.” The production company needed a name, so the decision was made to use RARE DAY PROJECTS which worked very well because it was several years before Carol wrote another play.

When I asked about her newest play ‘Leap of Faith’ which opens at the Village Playhouse on June 1, her face lit right up as she was eager to explain without giving away too much what’s going on in the story.

She started writing the first scene of ‘Leap’ when there was a call for 10-minute plays. Carol is a newspaper aficionado and hound as she reads all of them both in print and online. She had clipped out an item about a young woman who had been kidnapped and held by some guy. She doesn’t know how long he had this woman in captivity, but she finally escaped by talking her way out of it. Carol didn’t know how long that took or how dangerous the situation was, but she remembered it took quite a while. The woman escaped by making all kinds of promises to the man to let her go, and he believed her and let her go.

Carol’s first thought was how clever this was, and her second thought was this man might very well hold this woman to those promises she made. This was the first scene and it ended with the police finding him and her giving him away.

She clipped this article out and had for a couple of years and when the time came for the 10-minute play competition she thought maybe she could do something with the information from this clipping, so she did. Then Covid hit.

So, even though the play was ten minutes, Carol realized there are consequences of course in her play. She doesn’t know if the guy from the clipping ever found the girl again, and in ‘Leap of Faith’ something is going to happen. During Covid when she did a lot of walking and thinking about the play, Carol then had to invent every single character in the story and began to wonder who would be the most affected by this incident, somebody in the public domain.

The idea suddenly came to her - it would be a politician (Laura Lewis) because anything a politician has done is going to be out there. Lewis does her best to put her kidnapping out of mind as she has had to deal with other issues in her career. She’s now successful and is a lawyer and in a big firm but still has a conscience. According to a release I received, Laura risks her career and her reputation in a bid to become mayor of her city, while all of Ontario swirls with actual political activity as voters choose the next Provincial Government and potential mayors and City Councillors gear up for the October municipal election.

As the campaign begins to get underway, Laura begins to receive tweets and she inherently knows the person sending the tweets is her kidnapper from years ago.

‘Leap of Faith’ obviously sounds like an edge of the seat thriller wondering what is going to happen next. Why do audiences need to see this kind of play as we all begin to return to the theatre?

Carol believes this story needs to be told because we are right to assume we need to hold people to account to their promises and avowed statements made during campaigning. At the same time, are we right to destroy politicians over something relatively trivial or that happened under such duress? Are we speaking of the court of law or the court of public opinion? These are two separate issues to be examined in ‘Leap of Faith’.

Some very heady and heartfelt issues here. At this time, Carol has only sat in on one Zoom rehearsal. She is so pleased with director Anne Harper’s creativity and where the story is headed under her vision. Carol states she is not adverse at all to make any changes to lines if it makes sense depending on where the production is staged. For example, at the Village Theatre, there are unique sight lines in the space that will require some minor tweaking in the dialogue.

A talk back with special guest Toronto City Councillor Shelley Carroll entitled ‘Women in Politics’ will be held after the 2 pm performance on Thursday June 2. Carroll assisted Libman on what happens when individuals run for office.

What’s next for Carol Libman once ‘Leap of Faith’ has concluded its run?

With a huge sigh, she said: “Survive!” and I had a good laugh at the tone of her voice when she said it.

She then continued:

“If I have the energy, I have one more play that is already written that I’d like to get on somewhere. It’s a comedy/mystery with what, I think, has a moral centre. I have another idea I’m working on, but what will ever happen? I don’t know. My brain is still functioning so as long as that’s doing its job, I’m still hanging around.”

Directed by Anne Harper, ‘Leap of Faith’ features Tara Baxendale, Kim Croscup, Gabriel Hamilton, Derek Perks, Brian Russell, and Anne Shepherd. Shows are June 1-4 inclusive at 8 pm; matinees are June 2, 4 and 5 at 2 pm at The Village Playhouse, 2190 Bloor Street West.

Tickets at the door, cash only: $25 regular, $20 students and seniors. Online $20 at BrownPaperTickets.com or LeapofFaith.BrownPaperTickets.com

Covid protocols in effect at the theatre.

To learn more about Rare Day Projects, visit www.raredayprojects.com.

Contact: raredayprojects@gmail.com for further information.

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