It’s tough growing up as a play.
And Celia McBride’s So Many Doors was no exception.
Born as a first draft, it just wasn’t good enough.
Then, after the second draft, just when things were looking up, McBride hacked it apart again.
Bets were hedged on the third draft, but it, too, returned to the drawing board.
Finally, Wednesday night, a staged reading of the fourth draft played to a good audience at the Yukon Arts Centre Studio.
And it was great — moving, funny, thoughtful, inspiring.
No one could tell that McBride and Toronto dramaturge Kelly Thornton had reworked the whole script just the day before.
McBride finished her third draft in July.
And last week, Thornton and two actors arrived from Toronto and Vancouver to work on the staged reading with McBride and her Sour Brides Theatre partner Moira Sauer.
“We basically cut it to bits, honed it and refined it,” said McBride.
But the day before it opened, Thornton, who worked with McBride on all of the drafts over the past few years, approached her.
“She told me we needed to have a dramaturgical discussion,” said McBride.
“She said we’d cut all the meat off the bone and we had to go back to the second draft that I wrote in February.”
McBride and Thornton spent the next six hours ferreting the good bits from the fourth draft and adding them to the second.
“Kelly said, ‘You’re the bravest playwright I’ve ever worked with in my whole life,’” said McBride.
“But I trust her.”
McBride, who graduated from the National Theatre School’s playwriting program, has been writing plays for the last 14 years.
And she has staged “productions all over the place.”
But So Many Doors is unique because McBride and Thornton worked together on the piece right from the get-go.
“It’s the furthest a play has come in terms of work-shopping each draft,” said McBride.
The play was born during McBride’s Nakai Theatre residency in 2004.
“I had pitched a Yukon-specific play,” she said.
“So I was listening to the people and getting to know the culture, and I heard this story about these longtime friends who had split.”
Trying to decide what would tie the friends together, McBride decided each would have a child that had died.
“And right after that, I started hearing about all these children who died,” she said.
Worried it might be too close, that people might think she was writing about them, McBride started to shy away from the subject.
But then realized this is what she had to write about.
“Sometimes our subjects choose us,” she said.
“And grief is a universal experience.”
Lights go up and the four-person cast is sitting in a support group — two couples whose friendship was severed by a drunken, slip of gossip at a party years before.
Brought together by the loss of their children, the couples muddle through their mixed-up relations in an insightful, sometimes funny and very real way.
“Hopefully, people will come away feeling something profound — the glory of being alive” said McBride.
“It sounds cheesy, but it’s true.
“When I experience great art, whether it’s a play, a painting, or a movie, it make me so glad to be alive — it makes me want to live my life more fully.
“And because I have that experience with great art, I want to be able to do that for other people.”
The idea behind the workshop production of So Many Doors is to get this play to a place where it’s ready for a full staging, said McBride.
But it’s hard to share the play with an audience.
It’s easy to get caught up in its presentation and the finished product, instead of the ongoing process.
“And if we’re hijacked by lights and audience, we’re going to put up a play that’s not ready,” said McBride.
“And people are going to leave thinking, one more new play that’s not that great.
“So, I have to serve the play first, because ultimately the play will serve the audience.
“But if I serve the audience before I serve the play, I’m in trouble.”
McBride wants to mount So Many Doors as a full-scale production in September 2007 and tour it.
But there’s still work to be done and a few things that need tweaking, she said.
Several of McBride’s plays have been hatched in a writers’ gym she hosts once a week all winter.
And she’s currently working on a piece about an obese woman.
Right now, it’s just the bare bones of a first draft, she said.
“But I’d like to make it happen.”
And so it begins …
So Many Doors runs at the Yukon Arts Centre Studio Friday at 10 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Tickets are $15.