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The Time of your life  william saroyan artist note: Stuart Hughes Rarely have I had such sheer delight performing onstage as when we first tackled The Time of Your Life. This is a big shouldered, sprawling piece that gleefully picks us up and whirls us around in its intoxicating, robust embrace. It is theatrically audacious — bold in its invention, and swelling with humanity. At its core you have a man, Joe, who inquisitively culls out and cultivates Life’s innate celebratory force in everyone he meets. With each swing of the saloon door, this 1939 harbour honkey tonk sparkles ever brighter as one after another, Saroyan’s huge cast of characters are effected and infected by this almost childlike curiosity. We watch this questioning regard transform broken and despair-stained aspirations into vigorous hope and opportunity. Saroyan’s prologue (re-printed below), along with the play itself, stunningly reminds us of the enormous acts of courage to which we must sometimes commit when Life, with all its intrinsic gifts, is threatened. To get another opportunity to explore, inhabit and rejoice within this extraordinary piece, in a production that I love, with so many close friends, is a gift for which I am deeply grateful. Thank you for sharing in the celebration of this joy-filled play.

Stuart Hughes, Kit Carson in The Time of Your Life

Prologue by William Saroyan In the time of your life, live—so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches. Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding-place and let it be free and unashamed. Place in matter and in flesh the least of the values, for these are the things that hold death and must pass away. Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption. Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world. Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart. Be the inferior of no man, nor of any man be the superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man’s guilt is not yours, nor is any man’s innocence a thing apart. Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand. Have no shame in being kindly and gentle, but if the time comes in your life to kill, kill and have no regret. In the time of your life, live—so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.

stuart hughes & joseph ziegler. photo: Sandy Nicholson

the Time of your life william saroyan

usa 1939



Albert Schultz Director

Douglas John Alan sailor

Toby Malone Sailor

Lorenzo Savoini Set Designer

Derek Boyes Nick

Krystin Pellerin Elsie

Dana Osborne Costume Designer

Kevin Bundy Tom

Gregory Prest Dudley

Louise Guinand Lighting Designer

Ins Choi Willie

Karen Rae Kitty

John Gzowski Sound Designer

Tatjana Cornij Lorene

Brenda Robins Society Lady

Mike Ross Music Director

Oliver Dennis Krupp

Mike Ross Arab

Kelly McEvenue Alexander Coach

Lyndon Hanrahan Newsboy

Michael Simpson Blick

Marinda de Beer stage manager

Stuart Hughes Kit carson

Denzal Sinclaire Wesley

Ashlyn Ireland assistant stage manager

John Jarvis Society gentleman

Jane Spidell Mary

Jeff Lillico Harry

Brendan Wall McCarthy

Trish Lindstrรถm Killer

William Webster Drunk

Alyson MacFarlane Anna

Joseph Ziegler Joe

Laurie Merredew apprentice stage manager

Abena Malika Sidekick

The Time of Your Life is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, INC. There will be one 20-minute intermission. Approximate running time 2 hours and 40 minutes.

background notes “In the time of your life, live—so that in that good time there shall be no ugliness or death for yourself or for any life your life touches.” These are the opening words of William Saroyan’s epigraph for this play and with economical elegance they articulate the mighty struggle of Joe, the hard-drinking but hopeful central character. The stage directions call the setting “an American place,” and the description of Joe also hints at Saroyan’s sense of a certain kind of American character: “always calm, always quiet, always thinking, always eager, always bored, always superior.” In fact, it can be argued that the playwright compressed the whole play from its theme to single actions taken by its characters, into the vivid, garrulous epigraph. William Saroyan believed unshakably in his own vision. In the time of his own life, he knew many honky-tonks like the one in the play. He himself placed hopeless bets and, at certain periods in his life, regularly drank three, or five, or seven too many. Perhaps because of this personal history he, like Thornton Wilder, has created characters without sentimentality. He never forgets that they are all, even the meanest of them, motivated by a primal hope. As a writer Saroyan was essentially optimistic; even in the shadow of the Second World War in October 1939 he wrote: “Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand.” Mind you, Saroyan does not advocate soft-headedness. Of the most villainous character in the play, Blick, he writes: “There is nothing obviously wrong with him, and yet you know that it is impossible, even by the most generous expansion of understanding, to accept him as a human being.” If we go back to the touchstone of the epigraph, we find an unambiguous response to the Blicks of this world: “… if the time comes in the time of your life to kill, kill and have no regret.” But Blick is a minor character. Saroyan lavishes far more stage time and attention on Kitty Duval and Tom. Their tenuous romance is the most potent example of both the delicacy and resilience of the human heart. And as the story unfolds we watch Joe watch them and the echo of the epigraph illuminates Joe’s inner impulse to “seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let it be free and unashamed.” And speaking of goodness, part of what returns this play to our stage are two remarkable performances that captured audiences’ hearts and minds several years ago: Joseph Ziegler’s tough-tender portrayal of the world-weary main character, Joe, and Stuart Hughes’ original, hog-wild interpretation of Kit Carson, which won both actors Dora Awards. This revival is another chance to savour all the rich relationships and resonances the playwright and the production nurture so carefully in this unhurried, warmly detailed portrait of life on the margins. In the end the play is big-hearted and true to its epigraph: it blesses us on our way. “In the time of your life,” Saroyan says, “live—so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.” Playwright Biography William Saroyan was born in Fresno California and began writing at a young age. His first short fiction was published in Story magazine in 1934, entitled The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze. In 1939, he completed his two best known works for the stage –  My Heart’s in the Highlands (1939) a semi-autobiographical work about his Armenian heritage, and The Time of Your Life (1939) which won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award and The Pulitzer Prize. Saroyan famously refused the Pulitzer citing his discomfort between its intersection of art and commerce. Saroyan continued to write plays, novels and screenplays until his death in 1981, but would never again reach the heights of his earliest successes. Background Notes by Associate Artist Paula Wing.

soulpepper production J. Andrew Hillman

Phil Atfield, Geoff Hughes

Jacqueline Robertson-Cull


head of hair & makeup

Mike Keays

Steve Hudak

Barbera Cassidy

Katarzyna Chopican


scenic artist



Greg Chambers

Duncan Johnstone painter

Janet Pym, Natalie Swiercz

David Rayfield

props builders

associate technical director

Laura Bolton wig mistress

head scenic artist

dressers soulpepper thanks: Mar-Lyn Lumber Sales Ltd., Ontario Staging Ltd., Ben Renzella, PRG Toronto, David Hoekstra, Shawnte Clow (wardrobe co-op student), JD International, Pickott Plastics Ltd. Soulpepper Theatre Company is an active member of the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres (pact), the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts (tapa) and Theatre Ontario, and engages, under the terms of the Canadian Theatre Agreement, professional artists who are members of Canadian Actors’Equity Association.


The Time of Your Life - Playbill  

Playbill for The Time of Your Life featuring artist notes, casting and background information.