Mike Melski’s Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad is currently running at the Chester Playhouse. Recently, the renowned playwright – and long time Leafs fan –shared his thoughts on the play and the production.
What inspired you to write Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad?Just growing up in the Cape Breton minor hockey world, playing for about a dozen years. Along with its long held Celtic traditions, hockey is a very big deal back home, as it is in small towns across the country. My Uncle Ches was a big hockey star and actually died in an on-ice accident. So it's very important in my family as well. It's a game about love and violence, encapsulated and intertwined. And the play flowed from that thematic concern.
Was it a difficult piece to write?Not as difficult as some. I usually roll my eyes at the 'writer as channeler' stuff that other authors speak about. To me writing is hard work and always has been. But that said, this one flowed more quickly and clearly than most, and it did feel that the story was out there and wanted to be written down. It was a lot of crafting from there, but the basic relationship allowed the characters to 'speak' earlier than I was accustomed to.
To what do you attribute the work's success?I would guess it's that the audience has a connection to these characters and the milieu which supercedes a willing suspension of disbelief, because they know that they are real people. It's not as much of a leap into a new world as other stories. The connection becomes more instant and sympathetic and they can just enjoy the ride, even though it takes them to some darker places than they might think they're going.
Are reactions to the production similar wherever it is performed?Pretty much. I'm very lucky, it has played to so many people across the country now, and it's still going. I've seen shows in various cities and towns over the years and I have to say the Chester show that's currently running, is a great and bang-on rendition (directed by cousin Jesse MacLean), that stands up to any I've seen. This production will soon travel to Live Bait in New Brunswick, so if people miss it here, I hope they can catch it there.
Are you involved with the Chester Playhouse production?I was involved with casting and discussed the hidden pitfalls that do exist in any script, things to avoid, things to maybe underscore. But that's it. I trusted Jesse, he's proved himself many times over with great shows at Shakespeare By the Sea, and he took the reigns as producer as well. If the production had been up to me, I would have been too busy to make it happen this summer, but I'm so pleased it did.
What can audiences expect from the Chester performance?The actors, Kevin Kincaid and Natasha MacLellan, are doing excellent work on some deceptively difficult characters. They have a very good chemistry and understanding of the text. The opening night audience was laughing big right from the opening minute and that kept going throughout. The Act 1 closer is ACDC's 'Thunderstruck' , which is pretty inspired and just hilarious to watch Kevin work with that. At the intermission, it took 3 or 4 minutes for the audience to stop laughing about it in the lobby.
What are you working on these days?Writing a couple of new feature films, packaging on couple of other new features that are getting close, writing my new play 'Eighteen' which will premiere at Neptune next year. Charlie Zone is still doing the festival circuit with new screenings coming up in the fall which I'll attend. I just signed a co-pro deal which will see HMHD developed into a feature film with me adapting and directing, so that should be interesting and we'll see where that goes. It's been a great summer.
Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad, until August 11 at the Chester Playhousewww.chesterplayhouse.ca