Adapted for the stage by Charles Tidler from two stories by Jack Hodgins. Spit Delaney is a steam locomotive operator at a pulp mill. After decades of rising at 4am to fire up his beloved steam engine, Spit finds himself without a job when the pulp mill replaces “Old Number One” with a modern diesel engine. Spit declares that he is: “Not sure of where or how I belong.” Spit’s relationship with his family and the world around him is thrown in turmoil as he doggedly tries to hang onto an identity that is no longer relevant. This is the stuff of comedy, and yet it is also the stuff of the human condition. As we laugh at Spit’s misguided struggle to stay the same, we empathize with his loneliness at being left behind while others move on – more readily adapting to a changing world. But there are magical forces at work here, guiding Spit – kicking and screaming – towards a deeper understanding of himself and an unexpected outcome.
Charles Tidler was born in northwestern Ohio in 1946 and grew up in Tipton, Indiana. He attended Purdue University to study poetry and philosophy. A Vietnam War draft resister, Charles immigrated to Canada, becoming a Canadian citizen in 1976. The father of two sons, he lives and teaches and writes in Victoria, BC.
Jack Hodgins is an internationally lauded writer. His original book of short stories of the same name won the Eaton’s Book Prize and was nominated for the Governor General’s Award.