Walking in Adam Pettle's 'Shoes'

Shalom Life chats with Adam Pettle about the return of his hit play "Zadies Shoes."

Published: May 4th 2011
in Culture » Stage

Adam Pettle

Zadie’s Shoes wowed critics and audiences when the play premiered a decade ago. It returns tonight to Toronto with an all-new cast and a revised script. The comedy tells the story of a gambler (Benjamin), who walks into a synagogue for the first time since his Bar Mitzvah to pray for a miracle after he loses the money for his girlfriend's cancer treatment. Shalom Life talks with Dora-nominee Adam Pettle about his hit play.


How did you come up with the concept for Zadie’s Shoes?


I started writing Zadie's Shoes in my final year at the National Theatre School (Playwriting program). I wrote the first scene of the play in a structure class, the simple exercise was A wants X and B opposes. I decided that A would be an old Jewish guy, B would be a young Jewish guy and X would be wanting to know what the hell this young shit was dong in shul. The scene survived many, many drafts and is still in the play.  




I know you’ve made some revisions to the play. What are some of the things that you changed?


I have made some changes to the script. Mostly cuts. I cut all the flashback scenes with the father as they never served to move the story forward and having seen this play a few times (different productions) there are other scenes that needed trimming. And having worked mostly in T.V. the past few years I'm also now keenly aware of when I'm over-writing. So, I've tightened, cut out some fat and also brought the play up to date. Adding cell phones and changing references to bring the play up to present day.




Zadie’s Shoes really struck a chord with audiences and critics. Why do you think so many viewers have connected to the play? 


I think the play struck a chord because it tells a good story. Which is what I think audiences and critics both respond to. If they want to know what happens next, you've got them. And I think Zadie's has a high stakes plot that moves along and hopefully delivers a few yuks along the way. I think the themes inherent in the play are universal too -- addiction, family, love and the loss of relationships. 




Your brother, wife and sister-in-law are all involved with the play this time. What’s it been like working with family? 


I love working with the people I love. And luckily I love some very, very talented people. My wife Trish Fagan gets my writing in a way that nobody else does. She's a five tool actress. Smart, funny, soulful, generous and brave. She's the best critic, story editor of my work, and my brother well... he's my brother. I work with him and will continue to work with him (phoot, phoot, phoot) for a long time. We share a sense of humour and taste and I know no matter if the show's a hit or a flop that it's not going to do anything to our bond that goes much deeper than putting on plays. 




What do you hope audiences take out of the play?


I hope audiences get told a story that's compelling and entertains them. If they do, then I've done my job. I don't ever pretend that I have anything to instruct or teach; my job as I see it is to entertain and delight (or attempt to) a paying audience. 




What’s next for you? 


I've been writing television primarily for the last five years and I will continue to do so. I'm developing a show with Susan Coyne for TMN called Orchestra. I'm adapting my play Therac 25 into a feature film, hopefully to be shot in Montreal next year. And will hopefully continue to work in television story rooms (I've been on Rookie Blue for the past two seasons) this summer as well. 




Zadie's Shoes runs until June 5. For more information, visit www.factorytheatre.ca

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