Kiss the Joy as It Flies, a new one-of-a-kind play
By Garrett Mueller, Business Editor
This weekend, anchovies, a talking crow, an old nun, and more characters will jump into life from the pages and mind of writer and visionary Brian Doyle.
Vashon Center for the Arts is hosting this newly-finished production: “Kiss the Joy as It Flies: The Wit and Wisdom of Brian Doyle.”
Doyle, the recently deceased editor of the “Portland Magazine,” was an award-winning author known for his essays, poems, and books. The production is focused on his writings and observations.
The project has been in development for just over two years now. Stage adapters Gerry and Mike Feinstein heard a reading of Brian Doyle’s essays on YouTube and were moved to share a similar experience with the island.
“[Doyle] often described the essay as closest to the human voice, but the experience of hearing rather than reading them was a delight and pleasure we had not anticipated,” Gerry Feinstein said. “It was then that we began to dream of a way to bring this experience to Vashon.”
The Feinsteins contacted Doyle and his wife Mary Doyle and received permission to move forward with their project. However, only months after this interaction, Doyle was diagnosed with brain cancer. Doyle’s passing put a hold on the project, but motivated the Feinsteins to create something that truly gave homage to Doyle’s life. The two met with director Charlotte Tiencken, singer and songwriter Kat Eggleston, and a panel of actors to create a “readers’ theater.”
“[Doyle’s] writing is down to earth and has a sort of off-beat, Vashon feeling to it,” Mike Feinstein said.
As the project progressed, the actors and the director decided that the event would resonate better with the audience if it was organized into a play format instead of a readers’ theater. The lines would still be quotes from Doyle’s works, but with a new sense of drama and interaction.
“I’ve been able to find a greater meaning in memorizing the text and make my performance more detailed,” actress Jeanne Dougherty said.
The Feinsteins put special emphasis on their wish for students to attend.
“Vashon High School students who are charged with writing essays or are thinking about becoming a writer will be inspired by the performance,” Mike Feinstein said.
The production of the play has been a journey for all involved, and they aim for the show to accurately represent what Doyle has come to mean to them.
“My hope is that the presentation will be a soulful celebration of Mr. Doyle’s incredibly life-affirming and death-facing writing — writing that simultaneously honors the most delicately tiny details and the biggest, juiciest light and dark-filled chunks of what it means to be a human being,” actor David Mielke said. “I hope it will make people laugh and cry and think. I hope it will be a memorable tribute to a very special artist.”
Advance tickets are being sold at $18 General, $16 Senior, $14 Member, and $5 Student; tickets at the door will cost $18. Performances will be held at Katherine L. White Hall on March 9 at 7:30 p.m. and on March 10 at 2:00 p.m.