Working Papers



Standing on the
Shoulders of Giants

In place of the usual “Director’s Note,” we thought it would be a better reflection of our process if we wrote this introduction collaboratively. Throughout the conceptual, rehearsal and performance phases of this project, we benefited from sharing ideas, questions and concerns with one another before making any decisions—so why change now?

Theatrical production may well be the most collaborative practice on earth. Each performance requires the skills of multiple artists, craftsmen, trades people and experts. This team of diverse people work together toward a common goal and must come in on budget and on time. The phrase “the show must go on” is a testament to the fact that theatre people always deliver on their promises. Not a bad practice these days you must admit.

Our process was a model of this type of cooperation. We worked with passionate, well-trained people in all departments and the result was a truly inspiring experience. Every once in a while, we would stop in the middle of a meeting, rehearsal or consultation to make sure that we savored the moment, since we were aware of how lucky we were to be working on this project, in this place, at this time.

Sir Isaac Newton is often credited with a phrase that was in fact first recorded by the 12th Century philosopher Bernard of Chartres. “Standing on the shoulder of giants” refers to the debt that we owe to those whose work allows us to do what we do. Recently, Google has adopted it as a motto to describe its project to digitize all the world’s knowledge. For us, this phrase captures our debt to our two mentors. Brian Smith and Douglas McCullough supervised this project, and guided our studies at the University of Calgary since the beginning. We owe an immeasurable debt to these two men and to the people of the Department of Drama.

The Department of Drama at the University of Calgary is a wonderful place to study, to practice and to grow as artists. Nowhere is this better captured than in a class called Mise-en-scène that is team-taught by Brian and Douglas. That course, which models the collaborative process available to directors and designers, was the source for the magic that ran through our work. To watch these two great artists work with one another, at turns challenging, supporting, and collaborating is truly inspiring. We stand on their shoulders in all of the best that exists in our work.

We are unabashedly in love with our department and those who work in it. The faculty, staff, and students are like family to us and we could not have done any of our work without them. We were nurtured by experts whose profound knowledge is only matched by their passion for the study and practice of theatrical performance. Our thanks to all of you.

We dedicate our work on this play to our giants—mentors, family and supporters, to each other and most particularly to you—our audience. We do it all for you.

Patrick Finn, Director

Ian Martens, Designer