Thursday, April 26, 2007

No Delusions: By Clare-Marie Gosse (St. John's) The Independent, April 20, 2007 - article on Joel Thomas Hynes

No delusions
By Clare-Marie Gosse (St. John's)

The Independent

Friday, April 20, 2007

Something that’s been troubling Joel Thomas Hynes for a while is the thought of complacency. Of getting to a point where everything seems to be ticking along so well, no worries, that he doesn’t really feel the need to try hard anymore.

After all, Hynes is a successful, award-winning writer with a brand new novel, Right Away Monday, set to hit stores May 5th; his first book, Down to the Dirt, which met with international acclaim, is about to be made into a movie (shooting with Newfound Films begins in June); and as an acclaimed actor, he’s currently preparing for the opening of his own one-man show, Say Nothing Saw Wood, at the LSPU Hall, May 7th.

It would be easy to understand how he might feel like settling back and relaxing over life’s general concerns — comfortable the work will just roll in, that he’ll always be a great parent, that he no longer needs to work on sobriety.

“I really think that f—king everything passes you by as soon as you get that attitude into your head,” Hynes remarks. Or worse, instead of passing you by, life smacks you a curve ball while you’re looking the other way.

One such incident helped inspire Say Nothing Saw Wood. The play, which started out as a short novel, is about anti-hero Jude Traynor, a sentenced murderer, “working himself out in front of an audience” as he reflects on a split-second decision he made a decade before in his late teens. The decision culminated in the death of an elderly woman and changed Traynor’s life forever.

The play, or “dramatized recitation,” is a story Hynes says he always intended to write. It’s loosely based on a sensational murder that took place in his hometown of Calvert on the Southern Shore in the 1970s, but it’s also the result of a serious wake-up call he himself experienced at the age of 17.

A self-confessed “hard ticket … largely considered to be a nuisance,” Hynes says he was strolling down a lane after a night of drinking, when for no particular reason, he picked up a fist-sized rock and hurled it into the air.

“While it was still in the air, out around the side of this shack — and this was about seven o’clock in the morning — there was a man walked out that I couldn’t see when I threw it because of the bend in the road. Suddenly he was there, and he had two little girls, hand in hand, and I threw this rock and I just saw it going right for the girl on the outside, and she must have been two or three … everything just stopped; that was my life right there.”

The rock just missed the girl, but the incident hit Hynes hard.“

I’ve just been quite fascinated by how close you can come sometimes to really just ending everything by chance and I sort of worked that concept into this story.”

Say Nothing Saw Wood has already won a Best Dramatic Script Award from the 2005 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts and Letters competition, which bodes well for a production Hynes describes as a return to oral story-telling theatre with no “bells and whistles.


Say Nothing Saw Wood runs at the LSPU Hall May 7-13.

To read an excerpt from Say Nothing Saw Wood on this Blog click here.