Michael Healey is a renowned Canadian playwright and actor who was born August in 1963 in Toronto, Ontario. He was raised in Brockville ON, a small city in the Thousand Islands region. Healey studied acting at Ryerson, graduating in 1985. He quickly became a recognized actor in the Toronto theatre scene, appearing notably in such plays as The League of Nathans by Jason Sherman and Better Living by George F Walker. His first work as a playwright was a one act monologue titled Kicked, which premiered at Toronto Fringe in 1996, starring Healey himself. It subsequently toured across Canada with a brief stint in Australia before winning the Dora Award for Best New Play in 1998.
Healey first encountered The Farm Show by Ted Johns and the original actors and creative team of Theatre Passe Muraille in the mid 1990’s. It became the inspiration for his first full length play: The Drawer Boy. Based on the research of one of The Farm Show’s original actors, Miles Potter (who later became the Artistic Director of Victoria’s Belfry Theatre 1984-86 and a noted director at major theatres across Canada) The Drawer Boy delves into the lives of two veteran farmers, Angus and Morgan, and how the illusions of their pasts are upset by the inquisitions of the young theatre artist Miles. Miles’s “research” into their lives and his subsequent breach of their privacy and trust is an emotional yet humorous exploration of the ethics of appropriation of another person(s) story and the line between fiction and reality.. The Drawer Boy was first produced by Theatre Passe Muraille in 1999. It is now considered a landmark of Canadian theatre and is one of the most performed plays in the Canadian repertoire. Its production history includes remounts by the Manitoba Theatre Centre, the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre and the Vancouver Playhouse. It received its London premiere at the Finborough Theatre on June, 19 2012.
Theatre Passe Muraille and The Farm Show
The Farm Show is a Canadian classic, which was developed in a co-operative, actor-driven form of playwriting known as “collective creation” and scripted by Ted Johns under the direction of one of Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille’s co-founders Paul Thompson. It is now recognized as one of the biggest indigenous theatre hits in Canadian history.
A troupe of actors from Theatre Passe Muraille went out to the countryside near Clinton, Ontario one summer to talk to local farmers about their lives. In pairs, the actors knocked on every farm door in the Clinton district. In order to get the desired interviews, they often ended up helping with farm chores and paging through wedding albums over tea. They transformed their interviews into a series of set pieces, from a monologue about the pains of stacking hay bales to a song about a farming dynasty.
The Farm Show was first produced in 1972 by Toronto’s Theatre Passe Muraille a leading Canadian Theatre company that for the past 50 years has specialized in producing alternative, new and experimental work (and a company where Blue Bridge’s Brian Richmond served as Artistic Director from 1988-91).