From the author’s note from the original production: Colours in the Dark might best be called a play box. Why?
I happen to have a play box and it’s filled with not only toys and school relics, but also deedboxes, ancestral coffin plates?in short, a whole life. When you sort through the play box you eventually see your whole life?as well as all of life?things like Sunday School albums which show Elijah being fed by ravens, St. Stephen being stoned. The theatrical experience in front of you now is designed to give you that mosaic?that all-things-happening-at-the-same-time-galaxy-higgledy-piggledy feeling that rummaging through a play box can give you. But underneath the juxtaposition of coffin plate with baby rattle with Royal Family Scrapbook with Big Little Book with pictures of King Billy and Hitler, there is the backbone of a person growing up, leaving home, going to big cities, getting rather mixed up and then not coming home again, but making home and identity come to him wherever he is. The kids at the very end of the play manage to get their lightning rod up and attract the thunder that alone can wake the dead. Or, on the other six hands, as Buddha says, there are any number of other interpretations that fit the mosaic we’re (director, writer, actors, kids, designers, composer) giving you?
James Reaney was born in 1926 near Stratford, Ontario. Reaney taught at the University of Manitoba and the University of Western Ontario for a total of forty years. He received his doctorate with Northrop Frye. Talonbooks published his plays Colours in the Dark (1969) and Listen to the Wind (1972). In 1975, The St. Nicholas Hotel: the Donnellys Part II won a Chalmers Award. Reaney received the Order of Canada in 1976. He passed away in June 2008.
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