Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Robert Handforth Theatre Archives at Carleton

Ryerson last night - seventeen writers eager to tell their stories. How lucky I am. U of T starting Thursday afternoon, the perfect size so far at twelve, and Thursday night, my home class. I will be stuffed with stories.

Yesterday a box I've had in my basement since 1989, containing theatre memorabilia belonging to my beloved friend Robert Handforth, went off to Carleton University, to establish an archive in his name. Bob died of AIDS in 1988 or 89, and his belongings were divided amongst his friends; his theatre stuff came to me. It's a fascinating jumble of his notes on productions as writer, director, or critic, his design notes, because he was a talented designer too, his own scripts, and those of his colleagues and friends. I went through the box one last time before it vanished, and found a file about a production of John Lennon's "In His Own Write" in 1979 which Bob directed and I appeared in, of which I have absolutely no memory. Was it the drugs? The reviews were glowing.

It was wonderful to see again Bob's familiar handwriting, fluid loops in brown ink. He taught me so much about beauty. He cared so much about beauty, about the theatre and the arts in general, about his friends. It made me sad to see him go, but I'm glad he'll be permanently settled at Carleton, where he and I and Lynn and Suzette and many others began their theatre careers, and from which we all graduated.

So - this blessed renovation. I've just calculated, wincing and gritting my teeth, that I've spent more than $8500 on a renovation that is going nowhere. However. Since it's already paid for, we will go through with the permit application, so I'll have the option of doing the reno in the future. For now, a new plan, to use my top floor as a casual airbnb-type temporary dwelling for out of town friends and students. If you need a place in downtown Toronto to rest your head for a night or two, have I got an attic room for you! And if possible, I will increase the size of the basement suite, which will bring in more income without much expense. Or disruption. Painful, all this - but better to stop work now than go through with something that fills my heart with dread.

Mind you, it's because of the impending reno that I started to clear out the basement, including finally dealing with Robert's stuff. That's the good news. Much more to be done, reno or no.

Tomorrow most of my immediate family, Anna and the boys and Sam, are flying to Vernon for the funeral of their grandmother. It will be a grand family reunion, if for a sad purpose - my ex has three remaining brothers who have a bunch of grandchildren, so many B. C. cousins for my kids and grandkids. If there's one thing Anna loves, for herself and her sons, it's cousins.

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