Beacher honoured at NYC theatre gala

Dawna Joy Wightman is walking on air, after a win at the 2013 Off Broadway Mid Winter Madness International Play Festival in New York City on Sept. 30.

Wightman won best actress for the nine roles she plays in the play she wrote, Life As A Pomegranate, which received its debut in the more down-to-earth setting of the Essentia mattress shop on Queen Street East.

“I wrote a three-woman show, and when I didn’t get any grant money I condensed it to a one-woman show,” she said.

Dawna Joy Wightman
Dawna Joy Wightman

The award is her second this year, after winning the people’s choice award for her play The Hush Baby at the 2013 Stratford Springworks Festival. That piece is “about the pressure women feel to have children,” she said.

A festival producer asked her to submit a play, and “it went better than I thought it would. Every time we were on stage, men would openly weep in the audience.”

The recent recognition of her work is not something Wightman would have anticipated a decade ago, when she was living with her husband and children on a farm in Foxboro, ON.

“Someone said ‘the biggest enemy of a great life is a good life’, and we had a good life in the country,” she said.

But theatre was calling, and Wightman responded to the call, moving to Toronto five years ago with family in tow, looking for a renewed career in acting. She called a church minister at random to ask where in the city they should move, and after a long discussion with Reverend Wayne Walder from the Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Church on Hiawatha Road, determined that the Beach was to be home base for her acting endeavours.

Despite her recent success in Stratford and Manhattan, Wightman has yet to fully break into the Toronto theatre scene, the next goal on her list of future accomplishments.

“My biggest goal is still to get my work seen in Toronto. It’s like there’s some magic key that I’m missing,” she said.

Despite that, Wightman said her enthusiasm for her craft is not diminished at all; in fact, quite the opposite is true.

“I wake up excited about my life now, even on the bad days,” she said.

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