Winter 2017 | The Short Story
Shortly after her mother’s death, Michelle writes The Departure Train as a short story. The inspiration comes to her suddenly in a moment of illumination.
Winter 2018 | Writing the First Drafts
Michelle reads the story to her friend, director Nicole Arends, who wonders about the possibilities of developing it into a play. They meet once a month as Michelle develops the script with Nicole working as her dramaturge (guiding dramatic structure and composition). Michelle spends the winter walking with the story, intuiting the nature of the train and Audrey’s interactions in the afterlife.
May 2018 | First Table Read
Nicole brings actors together at Michelle’s home for the first reading of play, and a lively discussion follows. Participating actors: Susan Q. Wilson, Ruth Danziger, Rick S. Jones, Marisa King, Erica May/Wood, Jean Sheppard, Dan Giverin, Naomi Peltz, Alysa Golden.
December 2018 | Staging an Elegant Reading
Michelle and Nicole hold an Elegantly Staged Reading at the Gladstone Hotel. A thoughtful, enthusiastic audience attends, providing a generous amount of support and feedback. Participating actors: Susan Q. Wilson, Ruth Danziger, Rick S. Jones, Pamela Barker, Erica May/Wood, Jean Sheppard, Dan Giverin, Naomi Peltz, Judith Johns Fiore.
Winter 2019 | Meeting a Supportive Influence
Layne Coleman, former Artistic Director of Theatre Pass Muraille, reads the play and writes to Michelle to express his enthusiastic support for the script.
The remainder of 2019 | Creating a Sonic Immersion
Nicole is concerned about the “clunky” staging and wants to bring an otherworldly quality to the afterlife experience. “Why can’t the actors just float?” she jokes. After much discussion, Michelle re-envisions the script to create a sonically immersive stage play, allowing the train to feel more like a train of thought, and keeping the audience oriented in time throughout the play.
January 2020 | Workshopping the Train at The Citadel
Nicole and Michelle conduct a two-day workshop at The Citadel in Toronto with five actors. They explore several of the more complex scenes to determine how to move in and out of Audrey’s memories. They play extensively with staging and a unique audience configuration that embeds the audience in the action of the play. Participating actors: Pamela Barker, Erica May/Wood, Dan Giverin, Naomi Peltz, Judith Johns Fiore.
Spring 2020 | Changing Tracks
With the onset of Covid-19, Michelle and Nicole consider ways to offer The Departure Train in a format other than a stage play. Since they already have an immersive sound script, it isn’t a huge leap to consider creating a full audio play.
May 2020 | Online Reading
Rich script revisions culminate in a private online reading of the new audio play. Participating actors: Liz Pounsett, Erica May/Wood, Colleen Simm, Jorge Molina, Liz Best, Chris Coculuzzi, Judith Johns Fiore, Naomi Peltz.
November 2020 | Composer and Sound Designer
Talented Composer and Sound Designer Phil Strong is chosen to create the music and sounds of Audrey’s afterlife journey.
Summer 2021 | A New Cast Boards the Train
The audio cast is selected after auditions take place in April 2021. Participating actors: Jane Hunter, Pamela Barker, Melanie Stevenson, Chris Irving, Lynn Oldershaw, Scott Moore, Naomi Peltz, Michael Pearson.
September 2021 | Recording the Play
After online summer rehearsals, the creative team comes together at Canterbury Studios in Toronto to record the play.
Winter 2022 | Music and Sound Design
Phil Strong brings a powerful and emotional dimension to the story by creating the music and the sound of the afterlife.
April 2022 | First Call to Listen
The newly minted audio play is presented to the cast in a private “first listen”.
Spring 2022 | Preparing to Launch
The creative team is expanded when Jennifer McKinley comes aboard as Marketing Specialist and David Adkin as Video Director/Editor.
June 2022 | Private Launch
The Departure Train team conducts an exclusive private launch for friends and supporters who have been waiting for the train’s arrival since 2018.