THE DOOR YOU CAME IN - AT THE STOCKEY CENTRE 10 NOVEMBER 2016
On Thursday 10 November at 7:30 pm the Charles W. Stockey Centre presents The Door You Came In, a two-man performance based on David Macfarlane’s acclaimed memoir, The Danger Tree.
You will hear the story of a writer who visits his dying mother. He brings a book that he’d written twenty-five years ago to read to her. It’s about her family. But it’s also about the terrible battle – Beaumont Hamel – that sits at the heart of both Newfoundland’s and her family’s history. The writer is David Macfarlane, author of The Danger Tree, Summer Gone and Figures of Beauty.
The songs and the music are by Douglas Cameron, a Juno-nominated singer and performer, who plays banjola, mandolin, ukulele, and accordion. His engaging, foot-tapping performance combines popular tunes of the day (“Pack Up Your Troubles,” and “If You Were the Only Girl in the World”) with original compositions. Macfarlane’s narrative weaves seamlessly throughout the music.
I have just re-read The Danger Tree, David Macfarlane's memoir of his Newfoundland ancestors and the inspiration for The Door You Came In. Macfarlane tells the story of Josiah and Louisa Goodyear, his maternal great-grandparents. They were the parents of seven children, six boys and one girl. They moved their family, in 1907, from a Newfoundland outport to the inland city of Grand Falls. They hoped to ensure that their sons would make something of themselves, and not live the hard lives of fisherman.
When the First World War began five of the six Goodyear boys joined up. Ray, Stan and Hedley did not return. Even in her old age, their sister, Macfarlane's great-aunt Kate, could not speak of her dead brothers without tears.
The Danger Tree is rich with Newfoundland lore and anecdotes, and the author’s childhood memories. As he listened to the conversations of the adults his misunderstandings, and interpretation of events, seen through the eyes of a child provide a sort of comic relief to the desperation of thestory of his ancestor’s war experiences.
As so often happens, by the time David Macfarlane knew the questions he should have asked his grandparents, it was too late. It is not until we are somewhere around middle age ourselves that we realize what we have lost. Macfarlane had one bit of great good luck though, because his Uncle Roland kept things, and left a trunk full of papers. To these facts of family history Macfarlane has added the lore, producing a wonderful memoir and, at the same time, an excellent history of the Newfoundland regiment and a vivid portrait of Newfoundland during the past century.
The Door You Came In is drawn from The Danger Tree. David Macfarlane took the title from a Newfoundland superstition his mother always talked about. When anyone came to visit she’d say “Be sure to leave by the door you came in, because if you don’t you’ll take the luck out of the house with you”.
The Door You Came In isn’t quite a play and it isn’t quite a concert. It’s a musical story – sometimes funny, sometimes tragic – that tells the tales of family, and memory, and war. It has been performed in theatres across the country, including the Stratford Festival, and to sold out audiences all over Newfoundland. Receiving standing ovations at every performance so far, including the one I attended in Toronto last fall, I can promise you this is a show not to be missed.