A Matter of Will

By Rod Carley

A Matter of Will
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Will Crosswell's decision to pursue acting shattered his father's dream of him being a useful adult. When we first meet the young Will he is a wolf in wolf's clothing. But in the ensuing years, from relationships to the theatre, his life has become one shipwreck after another. ... Read more


Overview

Will Crosswell's decision to pursue acting shattered his father's dream of him being a useful adult. When we first meet the young Will he is a wolf in wolf's clothing. But in the ensuing years, from relationships to the theatre, his life has become one shipwreck after another. Dumped by his fiancée and desperate to pay the rent, he finds himself taking a job on the bottom rung of the Great Chain of Being - a telemarketer. The satire becomes serious when Will hits rock bottom. After a life-altering AA encounter with an unconventional minister, Will enrolls in divinity school and has to survive his most challenging escapade yet - a forty day fast in a Newfoundland outport in the middle of the frozen winter. As he struggles to keep from freezing and starving to death, he is confronted by a series of strange events, not the least of which is an encounter with Billy Blight, a bigger-than-life Newfoundlander headed for perdition. Funny, surprising, outrageous, and moving, A Matter of Will is the tale of a middle-age maybe minister and his journey to find a mighty purpose.

Rod Carley

Rod Carley is the Artistic Director of Canadore College's Acting for Stage and Screen Program in North Bay and a part-time English professor at Nipissing University. He is also an award- winning director, playwright and actor, having directed and produced over 100 theatrical productions to date including fifteen adaptations of Shakespeare. He was the 2009 winner of TVO's Big Ideas/Best Lecturer competition. A Matter of Will is his first novel. He lives in North Bay, Ont.

Excerpt

ONE

Will's decision to pursue acting shattered his father's dream ofhim being a useful adult.

His father had tried to teach him the ins and outs of trans-missions but Will had elected to sing in a church choir instead.

"You behave like you're better than your own family, singingwith a bunch of uppity Anglicans rather than attending theUnited where you were baptized!" his father had roared whenWill announced that he and Christopher McBain were joining St. Luke's Men and Boys' Choir.

"You never go, so why should it matter?" Will had arguedback.

He had a point. If he was going to be a Christian, then hisfather was the worst kind, the hypocritical holiday type preferringto tinker in his workshop rather than attend Sunday service. Will'sGreat Uncle William, his namesake and a Mason, had orderedWill's mother to leave her family's Methodist church and join theCrosswell family at St. Paul's United, a condition of marryingWill's father.

His father eventually gave up on Will and showered his giftson his younger brother.

"Theatre school is a funhouse of mirrors," announcedDouglas Carmichael, the school's director, greeting the newrecruits on day one. "In Shakespeare's day, great plays werethought of as mirrors. When you are acting, you are looking intoa mirror--a special mirror that reflects the world in a way thatallows you to see its true nature. It not only reflects the worldaround you, but you as well. "

Will quickly learned how smudged that "special mirror" reallywas and how distorted its world. For there was nothing politicallycorrect about actor training in the late seventies: professors sleptwith their prized students, kept scotch in their desk drawers, andchain-smoked in class. They were meddling Gods, mind-screwingthe impressionable students into their clutches and conflictingmethodologies. The devouring of the students' self-esteem wasa foregone conclusion. Most of the students wouldn't tough itout and would never work in the industry, becoming elementaryschool teachers or high school drama teachers.

Will was an exception. A childhood of arguing with his fatherhad prepared him for acting boot camp.

Ms. Morrison, his movement and dance instructor, was abitter ex-dancer who began teaching at the school after a kneeinjury ended her ballet career. Ms. Morrison chain-smokedRussian cigarettes down to one long ash until it fell to the floorwith little regard to the "sanctity of the rehearsal hall" as decreedby Lawrence Richardson, the school's acting instructor, a refinedNew Yorker of the loose-fitting cardigan variety. Ms. Morrisonparticularly hated the two beautiful, lean girls in Will's class whocould actually dance.

She ordered the students to parade before her in theirbathing suits.

"It's like they're boarding the train for Auschwitz," mutteredWill, pointing out those girls with poor body images to the youngFrench Canadian beside him. Which was pretty much all of them.

Reviews

In this fable-like tale, author Rod Carley proves that he has a deft touch with story and character. A Matter Of Will takes the reader on a journey that is pure Canadian and thoroughly enjoyable. "Norm Foster, Canada's most produced playwright "Rod Carley's terrific ear for dialogue brings the worlds of theatre and telemarketing to life in a breazy picaresque about the spiritual redemption of a dissolute rake. "-Allan Stratton, author, The Dogs "The phantasmagoric scenes of Will Croswel's forty Dark Nights of the Soul in Witless Bay, Newfoundland are grotesque comedy such as has been rarely seen in Canadian writing and how refreshing it is!" - John Metcalf, author, The Museum at the End of the World

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