Rod Carley has concocted another hilarious romp behind the theatre curtain - a showdown between artistic freedom and censorship in rural Ontario. Kinmount is the last place down-and-out director Dave Middleton wants to revisit yet there he is directing an amateur production of Romeo and Juliet for an eccentric producer in farm country. And there his quixotic troubles begin. From cults to karaoke, anything that can go wrong does. In one hilarious chapter after another, Dave becomes the reluctant emissary of truth in a comic battle between artistic integrity and censorship. Add in a pesky ghost and a precocious parrot and the stage is set for a summer Kinmount won't soon forget.
About the author
Rod's first novel, A Matter of Will, was shortlisted for the 2018 Northern Lit Award for Fiction. His short story, A Farewell to Steam, was featured in the creative non-fiction anthology, 150 Years Up North and More, in 2018. Rod is also an award-winning director, playwright and actor, having directed and produced over 100 theatrical productions to date including fifteen adaptations of Shakespeare. He was the 2009 winner of TVO's Big Ideas/Best Lecturer competition. Kinmount is his second novel. Rod lives in North Bay with his wife, Marian, and their furry family: Arthur Poodle-bum, and a duo of feisty felines, Hilton and Zoe. Visit www.rodcarley.ca for more information and to book Rod for your book club or reading event.
- Short-listed, Northern Lit Award - Fiction
Excerpt: Kinmount (by (author) Rod Carley)
"Come to Kinmount," the voice said.
It was Lola Whale.
Lola Whale was an aging Renaissance woman living inOntario Highlands farm country. She was a home renovator,Raphael-inspired painter, and, in her latest incarnation, com-munity theatre producer. Dave had worked for her six monthsearlier, hired on an outreach grant to direct an amateur produc-tion of Congreve's seventeenth-century Restoration comedy,Love for Love--his choice, a modern dress adaptation that wasas bold an artistic statement as it was a financial flop.
Farmers left at intermission in droves to listen to a localentertainer cover Stompin' Tom in a dirt floor bar.
"You're joking," he said, turning down the radio.Kinmount was the last place he wanted to revisit. The namealone said it all.
"The locals meet their future spouses at family reunions," hesaid.
"Very funny. Now put away that world weariness of yoursand listen," she replied curtly.
"Their children are conceived at a red light. I don't think--"Lola cut him off.
"Our town council has approved a three-day Summer in thePark Festival over the August long weekend."
"The mayor pays child support to his sister," Dave contin-ued.
"I pitched them an outdoor Shakespeare for families," saidLola, ignoring him.
The life of a hand-to-mouth freelance director was about asglamorous and lucrative as cleaning toilets, a summer job Davehad soldiered through during his second year at theatre school.
Lola continued: "Romeo and Juliet. And they went for it. Iwant you to direct."
"Lola, no," Dave replied emphatically.
"You already know the local talent," she said.
"And look how well that went."
"We just have to educate them is all."
Dave watched with disgust as more and more shadflieslanded on his mudroom window. To the children of Birch Lake,the shadfly was a national bird. This was not the case for the restof the community. Shadfly season had officially started--a deadfish-smelling nuisance for the next two weeks. Millions of shadsemerged from the shallow lake behind his tiny bungalow, over-whelming predators who were unable to eat them all. Those thatsurvived carried out their egg-laying mission; it was a numbersgame, the shadfly version of storming the beaches of Normandy."A full-time three-week rehearsal period," said Lola.
"They're amateurs. They all have jobs," Dave said, grabbing abroom. "And no teeth."
"So we juggle. After work and evenings. Weekends. Thosethat are free during the day, you work with."
Lola was as relentlessly optimistic as Dave was pessimistic.
"It would take six months," said Dave, sweeping dead shad-fly corpses off his back porch and windows, his cell phone nowon speaker, resting on the patio table.
"Now you're just being difficult."
"No, I'm not," he said. "Besides there is no one in Kinmountwho could possibly play the leads."
"So you bring in a couple of theatre school grads who'lljump at the opportunity."
"They'll jump alright."
He brushed a pair of copulating shadflies off his t-shirt. Ashadfly's adult life was simple. Find a partner and mate beforestarving to death (considering it had no mouth not a difficulttask) or being eaten. Twenty-four hours to make it count. Justlike a Birch Lake tavern on a Friday night.
"Rod Carley's Kinmount is a hit that kept me laughing and turning the pages from curtain to curtain. It's funny, thoughtful, compelling, and filled with humane insights about people and their passions. Not since Robertson Davies' Tempest-Tost has a community Shakespeare production been so much fun." Terry Fallis, two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.
If you work in theatre, you'll love this book. If you've spent any serious time in small town Ontario, you'll get this book. If you simply like fun writing that makes you smirk and quite possibly snort out loud, this is definitely your book. Carley's view of all these things is truly a delight to witness. Shadflies, Shakespeare, and megalomaniac community censors don't seem as terrify- ing as I remember. All I can say is it's a tale of sound and fury signifying a delightful homage to community theatre.--Drew Hayden Taylor, Author/Playwright
Kinmount is a blast to read. It's fast-paced, engaging, and laugh out loud- funny. If you're not a theatre person, be prepared to enter the crazy world of small town drama in all it's hilarious glory. And if you ARE a theatre person, beware: you'll be wincing (and cheering on) a lot of familiar faces. Get thee to a bookstore and order!--Vern Thiessen, Playwright
The story is both entertaining and enlightening for anyone with a love of the classics, Shakespeare or simply a desire for madcap adventure. A wonderful read!!!--Andrew Jackson, Actor
Kinmount is going to make you howl with laughter.--Dave Carley, Playwright - Taking Liberties
Rod Carley's romp through the world of small town theatrical life will be a delight for anyone interested in theatre, small towns, eccentric characters, laughing or finding a way to painlessly gain an insight into Shakespeare and the people who attempt him, keeping in mind the adage that 'we all fail Shakespeare'.--Miles Potter, Director, Stratford Festival
To open the covers of Kinmount, is to enter a world of theatre, mayhem, magic and small-town hijinks. Rod Carley's masterful novel moves at a page-turning turbo-speed, fueled by razor-sharp wit, unexpected twists and turns, and a cast of characters that leap right off the page.--Heidi von Palleske, author, Two White Queens and the One-Eyed Jack
It is a laugh out loud comedy with enough bizarre and even some paranormal twists to keep you breathlessly turning the pages.--Carrie Schiffler, Actor/Poet
In the lively, humorous style of Tom Sharpe and Terry Pratchett, Rod Car- ley's story of a professional theatre director's struggle to produce a communi- ty Shakespeare production in small town Ontario was a wonderfully funny and engaging read.--Ian Farthing, Artistic Advisor, Pacific Theatre, Vancouver, B.C.
Kinmount has a high level of sophistication and at the same time pulls the curtain back on the topsy turvy world of amateur theatre. It is well-drawn, full of interesting characters with clever dialogue, funny, and at times, sur-prisingly deep.--Norm Foster, Canada's Most-Produced Playwright