Reviews: Aristotle’s Poetics

My sincere congratulations to the cast and crew of the SMUS’ Theatre Society play. My husband, Bill, and I went last night and we were thrilled by the depth of feeling, the quality of the acting and musical talent, and the pertinent, yet demanding script. Clearly an ode to lyrical poetry, the play suggests that it is by feeling that we can transcend our pain. It’s not a drama for the faint of heart, but then great art never is.
The play moves tirelessly and jazzily from character to character while the members of the chorus slink on the sidelines, providing an eerie, emotional and physical subtext that lurks beneath the dialogue. It also reminds us that sympathy is easy but empathy takes real guts. – Susan Stenson, Award-winning Poet and Teacher

Many congratulations to you. As usual, you shake up your subject with pithy material; never trite nor forgettable. I saw it on the Friday, and found not only the whole thing fully engaging, but also I found much humour in the choice of words, and in the characters. Humour is so flexible (serious humour, black humour, sarcastic humour, attempted humour…..), but it is also one way in which teens, often surprisingly, communicate. Anyway, the way in which the play affected me echoes what we all keep hearing; education is best brought about through interacting/feeling/acting, front line stuff, and less through sitting, listening and being preached at. What you created was pure drama and pure education. I look forward to your next production enormously. – Peter Butterfield, Choir Master and Teacher

The actors did justice to themes and situations that are challenging for anyone to deal with, and to portray on stage. I really felt the actors were feeling their roles, and trying to let all the sides of their characters shine through. I can’t single out any one performance, but as with any show like this, I am thankful for the insight into what this group of individual students finds inside himself or herself that perhaps was not discovered before the play began. What an excellent opportunity that these students made the most of.  – Bob Snowden, Headmaster of St. Michaels University School

The play was wonderful, congratulations. Scene changes were fast and efficient and the acting was excellent. Loved the music. Please congratulate the students. Well done! – Joan Tweedie, School Librarian

Congratulations on a most thoughtful and cleverly crafted play. It was so close to my heart that, at times, I found it hard to watch, but I thought the students did an excellent job in portraying a topic which thankfully, for most, is completely out of their experience. You are brilliant. Please can you let the cast know that I thought it was beautifully done? The masks were very effective I thought – another flash of genius on your part! – Anna Forbes, Art Teacher, Married to Dr. Iain Forbes who suffers from diabetes and was the inspiration for the exploration of pain in the play

Just wanted to pass along a big congratulations to your cast for its outstanding theatrical performance Wednesday evening. Being opening night, I was prepared for more or less a final dress rehearsal and I was shocked by the refined spectacle before me. Every actor on stage had me riveted by his/her credible performance as the emotion, stage presence and projection were superb. I loved the chorus’ placement around the theatre and its important role in enhancing the script. The talented musicians did a great job of portraying all the inner angst that couldn’t be expressed with words. The simplicity of the set and lighting made everyone involved have to work extra hard and I think that they lived up to the expectation. To write them a script that was meaningful and “au courant” and to provide them with an opportunity to shine in front of their peers is something only a truly exceptional teacher would do. Thank-you. – Laura Kezeire, French Teacher

To Jen and all the cast and crew of Aristotle’s Poetics:
First of all, thank you Jen, for your continued commitment to write and produce plays that are poignant, amazing and meaningful.  I did attend Distortion.  I was amazed.  Now that I have attended two shows of Aristotle’s Poetics (and will be attending the matinee today), I am again amazed. I wanted to send a note to everyone to share my thoughts about the play.

  • The play is gritty, honest, funny, sad, and reflects both teenage and adult life issues that seem to follow generation after generation.
  • The strong ‘sense of teamwork’ is evident.
  • The acting is superb.
  • The blend of theatre and music creates the magic.
  • Lessons learned from the play.
  • The only way around is through
  • It’s not the truth we can’t handle, it is the mystery.
  • Relationships can survive almost anything except secrets.
  • Sharing sorrow cuts the pain in half.
  • Truth helps to explain behaviour.  It creates a platform for understanding.  It helps us celebrate differences.
  • That as a university professor, I have to remember that my students have ‘lives’ outside of academics.  I have to respect the stage of life they are at and know that students come to university with different upbringings, experiences, dreams, visions, abilities, and life challenges.  I must continue to recognize that I have an amazing opportunity to share in their personal and professional growth.  I also have the opportunity to share in their transformation.

Thank you to all of you – who help me reflect on a deep and personal level.  I will admit there were tears shed during both performances.  I also laughed as well. I am looking forward to the final performance of Aristotle’s Poetics. – Lara Lauzon, Professor at the University of Victoria

You’ve fed the heart and soul of us. Thank you for being brave and honest and speaking about the unspeakable…again. You gave a powerful voice (and so did the inspiring young actors on stage) to an unspoken core in us all. Thank you so much. – Joan Kyle-Jones, Teacher

To the SMUS Theatre Society: For me, the play struck a balance because, while it is a heavy topic, it had moments of levity (you probably heard me laughing… some of those English teacher jokes were irresistible). It certainly wasn’t light subject material, but I didn’t leave feeling depressed…. only enlightened. We do forget to consider the various kinds of pain others may be going through. Thanks for opening our eyes and our minds to the hurts of those around us. – Dorothy Hawes, English Teacher

Thanks for a riveting night of theatre. You guys were a true ensemble and told the story with confidence and commitment. – Cam Culham, Actor, Teacher, M.A. in Youth Theatre

It has taken me all weekend to send this to you…every time I sit down to write you I start weeping! Ugh! I am in awe of you…complete and utter awe…to say you are a gifted storyteller seems so menial, there must be bigger, grander words I should use. Aristotle’s Poetics was deeply moving…Teenage suffering, adult suffering…you portrayed the common thread that both share, ultimate aloneness in their struggle. What unbelievable talent those kids have…every single one of them! They are such an impressive group! You are an amazing writer and a wonderful director. – Terry Stockus, Real Estate Agent

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