Norm Reynolds, New College 1982 alumnus

Photo Credit: David Roddis

Norm Reynolds earned a B.A. from the University of Toronto in 1982, graduating with a major in Sociology. In 2008, he earned an Honours Specialist in English, also from the University of Toronto. He has also earned a Bachelor of Education and Master of Education from U of T.

Mr. Reynolds currently teaches English and drama in Toronto. As a writer, he has published short fiction in the United States and Canada and book reviews in the Canadian national press.

Mr. Reynolds is a passionate playwright and actor, and a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada. His hit play, Put Up Your Hand—directed by former New Faces performer and choreographer Lesley Ballantyne—returned to the stage September 2014 in Toronto.

Let’s talk about your New College days. Why did you choose New College (be honest) and what were your expectations?

New Faces was the reason. I was at another college on campus, but did not make friends until I joined New Faces in my first year. I switched to New College in my second year so I would graduate from the college that meant the most to me.

What was New College like when you came?

It was welcoming, and in retrospect, quite diverse for its time. Putting theatre on in Wetmore Hall, with limited resources, was challenging but fun.

On that note, what is your favourite memory from your time in New Faces?

We had to black out the windows of Wetmore Hall for a matinee of New Faces. I brainstormed, then phoned [paper company] Domtar to see if they could give us—for free—miles of tar paper, in return for which we would acknowledge the gift in our program. The Domtar rep paused and then asked me if I had ever considered a career in sales. We got what we wanted—free of charge!

Is New Faces what first sparked your interest in theatre?

I was bitten by the theatre bug long before New Faces, but the group offered an absolutely unique opportunity: to create brand new musical theatre, using the talents of those who joined the group. New Faces supported me both as an actor and as a writer.

Your one-man show, Put Up Your Hand, is returning to the stage this fall over 20 years after it was last professionally performed—in other words, over 20 years of life and teaching experience later. How have these years of new experiences impacted the show?

The play has had a life intermittently through the years, through community and school theatre—as a plot-driven piece for an ensemble of actors, not just as a one-man show. I have always found the play connects with audiences, but I have had to update references to keep the script fresh. For example, “instabanks” are now called ATMs!

Why do you think the play’s characters and their circumstances are so timeless?

Audiences bring their own experience of school—something pretty universal—to the show, and so the characters speak to the audiences’ memories and experiences, beyond what I had created as playwright.

You’re a teacher, writer and actor—that is a lot to juggle. How do you balance your career with your off-the-clock pursuits?

I am primarily a teacher. From September to June, it’s a full-time commitment. I write when I can, and summer is the time for acting—apart from making a fool of myself in front of my students on a regular basis!

In your personal or professional life, what are you most looking forward to?

Putting the show up is exciting. I look forward to doing it!

 

Kaitlin Klaas