What kind of story would Munish tell?
After the production of #34, at Regina’s Globe Theatre, I stayed for the opening night party. I chatted with Munish, congratulating him on his success as the playwright and performer. He told me that when he started developing the idea for this story he was prompted by the artistic director at Globe Theatre, Jennifer Brewin, with that very question—what story would Munish tell.
That question hit my brain hard–a loud gong of a bell, not the gentle ping of I have an idea but a loud toll that was for me. I thought about what story I would tell, what tone it would have, and what lessons and emotions I would laced into it. I have been sitting on this notion since opening night.
Seeing the play
#34 is a play written by Munish Sharma about George Reed, a sports hero, and legend of the Saskatchewan Roughriders football team. The play was about 85 minutes long without any breaks and it starred Munish Sharma (also the playwright) and Jeremiah Sparks. It was an interesting telling of the story of our provincial football team’s first black player 1963-1975. He rushed 16,116 yards on 3,243 carries in his career. He was an incredible running back. With all these stats in the play also came the struggles with being a black man at a time when doors were not opening for people of color.
The story was told by Munish, who is also a person of color. There was humor. There were difficult questions. There were uncomfortable moments. But in the end, there was a hero—a man to be proud of—George Reed.
More than one man to be proud of
I taught Munish Sharma 25 years ago at the beginning of my career. Two and a half decades ago. On opening night, I sat close to the front, like I would during the high school productions I directed. Back then I would tell the students that if they were nervous they could just look at me, and pretend that I was the only one there—that they were performing for me as they had done a hundred times during rehearsals. They could count on me to laugh and cheer. I always did. Munish didn’t need that kind of encouragement in the front row. The level of expertise in the performance and story was impressive.
Two and a half decades ago
I don’t know what I did specifically as Munish’s high school theater teacher during those early days—except maybe I kept the class fun and light. Perhaps I gave him permission to see where his passion lay and I gave him a place to play and story tell—a place for imagination to grow—when the rest of the day of education may have been a bit more of a regimented grind.
As a teenager he had a story in him…actually he had a lot of stories in him. He had dance in him. And life and laughter. He still has all those things—and a wild enthusiasm and energy as well as grit and determination. It’s no wonder, years later, he chose to write a story about George Reed who in my opinion has many of the same characteristics as the playwright and performer.
Teachers want to see their students succeed. They want to know that each student basks in the light that makes them shine the most them that they can be while they are on this planet. We hope for this for each of the youth that stand in front of us for the time that they do in their adolescent years. We hope that they learn how to dig in and keep going to get to the end game, and to problem-solve their lives with resolve.
I don’t always get to see how things have played out for my students but watching Munish write and perform this play hit all the feels for me. I don’t think that this is the last time that I will see his work or hear about his successes. May he keep basking in the light.
Back to the initial question
Now, I ponder—what kind of story would Angie tell and what outcome do I want that story to have? This is a blog post waiting to be born…and maybe the story is as well.
Thank you, Munish for that touching moment, thoughtful question, and excellent performance.
As always, thank you for reading lovelies.