Love for the 4th Line
This summer I was hired as an apprentice assistant stage manager and actor at 4th Line Theatre. I’ve attended numerous productions in the past and have long been converted to the magic of the Winslow farm. However, this has been my first summer as a participant and not an observer. I’ve been blown away by the opportunity to go to work every day at one of my favorite places in all the world.
It’s an honour to be part of a team made up of so many talented people. This had me thinking about exactly how I fit into that team. As an ASM I am constantly solving little problems, helping people out and generally greasing the wheels of the production, so that it all runs a little bit smoother. My role, in the play, is Hunt – a sour farmer who physically abuses the beloved young Billy Fiddler. Hunt only appears in three scenes, but those scenes are crucial to the story and tempo of the play.
The name 4th Line Theatre comes from the former name of Zion line. However, as with many things, it makes me think of a sports metaphor. In hockey, the 4th Line is the lowest on the depth chart and gets the least amount of ice time. The role of the 4th Line is nonetheless crucial to the success of the team, their work is not glamorous, but they are relied upon for energy, tempo, defensive assignments, face-offs and other situational roles. Since watching Mark Osborne, Peter Zezel and Bill Berg plug away for the Leafs in the early nineties I have always had a soft spot for the important role the 4th line plays on a winning team.
A theatre production, especially of the scope of Doctor Barnardo’s Children is much like a winning sports team, where everyone has a different role in service to an ultimate goal. Our team is loaded with consistent goal scorers like Herbie Barnes, Geoff Hewitson and Gary Bryant. But the overall success of the production relies just as heavily on the metaphorical 4th Liners, like Riley Young and Max Czmielewski, who must evoke the wild charisma of London’s youth with only a few lines of dialogue; Lorna Green, whose only scene in the play is counted on to deliver a crucial emotional beat; Josh Butcher provides yeoman’s work as Dr. B’s assistant Simpson and squeezes comedy out of a Stepney attendant. As for my character, he provides energy to the second act and gives us one of the few glimpses we get at the horrible people that some Barnardo kids were left with, an important historical reality. Everyone on the team, no matter their character, has specific storytelling objectives and adds something important to the overall feel of the show. Without the enthusiastic contributions of everybody involved in Doctor Barnardo’s Children, we would never be able to achieve our goal of making it a memorable and historic production, which I believe it is. I’m proud to win the face-offs and do the backchecking for this team, I’m proud to be a 4th Liner!
Kelsey (Dave Reid) Powell
Photo by: Lindy Powell