MAY 11-13 Simcoe Street Theatre
LETTERS, LEFTOVERS & THE LOTTERY:
THE WRITINGS OF SHIRLEY JACKSON
Performed by Melody Johnson Featuring Allan Cole on piano
Join Theatre Collingwood as we experience a thoughtfully curated, multifaceted portrait of one of America’s finest writers in the form of a one act show. Following her celebrated performance at the 2022 Porchside Festival, Master of Storytelling Melody Johnson returns to Collingwood to weave another tale centered around Master of Literary Horror, Shirley Jackson. A multi-media experience, everyone can and will delight in and relate to this engaging account of Shirley’s work, centered around family and community.
Composer Allen Cole and actor Melody Johnson combine reading, performance, and live piano playing to Jackson’s newly published letters, her lesser known psychologically charged stories, and a haunting retelling of Jackson’s most well-known short story The Lottery.
Shirley Jackson’s dark, psychological stories rocketed her into the public eye when her short story The Lottery was published in 1948 by the New Yorker. Initially highly controversial, it was later recognized as a gothic classic and has been included in more anthologies, freaking out more high school students than perhaps any short story ever written. Her novels The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle are also considered two of the greatest psychological thrillers of the 20th century, with recent film adaptations. Less remembered today are the “domestic comedy” stories that Jackson wrote in the 1950s. Based on her trials and tribulations as a 1950’s housewife, and lampooning the antics of her husband and four children, they were wildly popular, and first published in magazines like Good Housekeeping, Collier’s, and Reader’s Digest. They are the precursors of a genre now referred to as the “MomBlog”. The fact that Jackson could write so authentically in these two hugely different genres has long bewildered readers and critics alike. Perhaps it’s a true reflection of a dichotomy that challenged many women of that time; a great love of family life on one side, coupled with a deep desire to break free of its limitations.
Allen Cole, (Composer/Creator) | Originally from Nova Scotia, Allen Cole has worked variously as composer, musical director, and writer for The Stratford Festival, Shaw Festival, the National Arts Centre and many other theatres across the country. He’s won numerous awards, including four Dora Mavor Moore awards, six Robert Merritt awards, and a Best Film Score Award from The Atlantic Film Festival.
Melody A. Johnson, (Actor/Creator) | An accomplished creator, Melody has enjoyed a career of moving between the worlds of comedy and drama. Since 2010 Melody has toured and produced the self-penned Miss Caledonia throughout Canada, (premiering at the prestigious Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, and National Arts Centre in Ottawa), and internationally to the United Kingdom. The play garnered two Toronto Dora nominations (Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Performance 2013.) Theatre Collingwood audiences also enjoyed it, as well as her Porchside Festival presentation of Person of Interest this past summer.