Failing Hands

by Marilyn Anne Campbell

Stage play: Theatre for Young Audiences; two-act, 3W/1M
Two young nursing home volunteers – one who is truly dedicated and one who is only doing mandatory volunteer hours to graduate high school – discover that one of the home's dementia patients served as a Nursing Sister during World War II. As the teens get to know more about the veteran's experiences at war and her current challenges with memory loss, one of them becomes dangerously obsessed with the past while the other begins to reconsider the future.
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Public Presentation

As one of the winners in Storybook Theatre's National TYA Playwriting Competition, Failing Hands will receive one week of workshopping with Storybook Theatre in Calgary, AB then be presented in a public reading on Friday September 9th at 7pm at the Beddington Heights Community Arts Centre (375 Bermuda Drive NW). The link is now live for you to book your free tickets to the reading. 

A Little History

The Toronto Arts Council supported the first draft of Failing Hands with a Level 1 Playwrights Grant. I spent a lot of time researching – far more than I intended – and ended up needing to use the now-defunct, 100-pages-in-a-month writing challenge Script Frenzy to force myself to sit down and write a full first draft. That first draft only had three characters; teen volunteers Jenna and Andrew, and Nursing Sister veteran Helen.

After working on a few more drafts on my own, I took the script to a new writer's group led by Derek Gingrich, which was a Playwright's Guild of Canada pilot project. Later, I took it to a playwright's group being run through the Toronto Public Library by David S. Young, who was at that time the TPL's Writer in Residence. Between the feedback I received from those two excellent groups of writers, a fourth character (Lakeview administrator Linda Muir) was added, and with her came Helen's memory of the Matron she served under.

Although the script has received years of development on paper - the most of any script I've worked on so far - it has yet to be on it's feet with actors or a director. That's about to change in Calgary, and I'm very excited to see what comes.



  • Public reading scheduled for September 2016
  • First option to produce with Storybook Theatre, Calgary AB

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Results of the Storybook Theatre National TYA Playwriting Competition

Sunday August 7th, 2016

I really thought my return to the blog was going to be to share the amazing time I had visiting with the talented and welcoming people of Storybook Land Theatre in Aberdeen, South Dakota and seeing their production of The Knight's Errand. And I WILL still post about that, because it really was fantastic. But I have to interrupt my own very loose editorial calendar with some exciting news...

My long-in-development play Failing Hands was selected as one of three winners in Calgary-based StoryBook Theatre's first ever National TYA Playwriting Competition! I'll be flown out to Calgary at some point over the Labour Day weekend to spend a week with SBT staff and artists and the other two winners, Jeremy Mason and Kiel Fredrickson, as the three scripts are developed for public readings on September 9th and 10th.

The first draft of Failing Hands was supported by the Toronto Arts Council and the script has been through two different writers groups where I got some great feedback that really helped it along. But the chance to get the script into actors' hands, with a director's guidance and a dramturg's feedback is a whole different thing. Many thanks to SBT's Artistic Director JP Thibodeau and Literary Manager Caroline Russell-King for creating this new award and opportunity - I'm very excited to see what happens in September!

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Kids Movies: See "Paper Planes" and More at TIFF this Easter Weekend

Thursday March 24, 2016

I've been busy pouring over the programming for TIFF Kids 2016, which starts on April 8. There are a ton of great-sounding new films I'm excited about seeing, but I'm also thrilled to see that Toronto families will get two more chances to see one of my favourite films from last year's festival.

Paper Planes is a 2014 Australian film directed by Robert Connolly and starring Ed Oxenbould as Dylan, an 11-year-old dealing not only with his mother's death, but with his father's debilitating grief. Discovering competitive paper plane flying gives Dylan somewhere to focus his energy and a way to to make new friends; which at first only drives he and his dad (Sam Worthington) further apart.

I usually only take Steve to two or three TIFF Kids movies a year, so I always hope they'll turn out to be good ones. He came with me to Paper Planes and we both thought it was a wonderful family film. I highly recommend checking it out this weekend if you get the chance.

Of course also showing this weekend is Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants. This happens to be another one Steve and I saw together and both really enjoyed; it's an endearing film without dialogue that mixes animated insect characters with real-world footage. Another great choice!

Paper Planes also gets bonus points for introducing Steve and I to Dami Im's cover of "Beauty in the World," which is a song that never fails to make me happy. If you're going to see the film, better to experience it fresh. But if you won't be going to Paper Planes, well, here's this:

Upcoming TIFF Kids Screenings

Paper Planes runs 96 minutes and was recommended for ages 8-12 by last year's TIFF Kids program. It and all of the TIFF Kids Easter Weekend selections - which include two collections of short films - screen once on Friday March 25th and again on Monday March 28th.


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