David Laing Lawson is a Hamilton-based playwright and director. His one act show Assisted Living is being performed at Gallery on the Bay in Hamilton, beginning Dec. 5.
Besides playwriting, Lawson is also a psychiatrist, which he says has its advantages and disadvantages in regards to his creative work. Lawson says, “… it’s very interesting that watching a play is a matter of watching people talk on stage and do things. (It is interesting) for the audience to infer from their behaviour what’s going on. (In regards to) the subtext (and) the psychology of the whole thing, nobody actually comes forward and tells you what he’s thinking.” He says the disadvantage is that “there is a structure to plays, a certain logical sequence. (There is) a beginning, a middle and an end, whereas real human behaviour is seldom like that. You have to stick to some kind of form in theatre that doesn’t necessarily exist in real life.”
As both the playwright and director of Assisted Living, Lawson discusses the difficulties in playing both roles and the challenges he faces. He says, “A writer’s words feel very precious to him or her; there are many times when actors ad lib a bit and I have to be careful not to be too insistent on the words being spoken exactly as I’ve written them.” He goes on to note that “it’s probably easier if you’re directing someone else’s modern play to take a few liberties with the dialogue.”
Lawson says that it was Arthur Miller who inspired him to start thinking about writing plays and what plays are all about, after having read Miller’s autobiography. Lawson laughed that he is inspired by “anything that’s done well.”
When asked what he sees for the future of Assisted Living, he chuckled that he doesn’t know. He then said that he hopes Assisted Living grows into becoming a popular show among small community theatres. He explains, “It’s a small cast, a limited set and therefore relatively inexpensive to perform … it could be a popular show to be put on by community theatre groups.”
Lawson hopes that his audience members will both laugh and cry while watching Assisted Living, but overall, his biggest goal is to entertain the audience. He wants his audience to “experience it as a piece of reality and real life.” He wants the themes of aging and independence and the transition into needing assisted living to resonate with his audience.
Assisted Living is running at Gallery on the Bay (231 Bay ST N Hamilton) from Dec. 5-13.