Blood, sweat, and fact-checking

Arts & Entertainment/Theatre by

David Sherman has always been fascinated by newspapers, and with his latest play, The Daily Miracle – opening January 26 at Infinithéâtre – he’s letting the rest of the world share his sense of awe.

“It’s a love story for newspapers and a tribute to all the people who work on the desk who are the unsung heroes of newspapers,” says Sherman. “Usually in fiction we celebrate … the work of reporters, but in this case we look at the people who actually put the paper out: the copy editors. They do a very difficult job and they do it very ingeniously. They’re people who love words and love newspapers.”

Sherman’s own love of newspapers began at a young age, when they appeared at the door like magic.

“I always thought newspapers were magical. I had favourite writers when I was very young; the fact that they were something that came every day and were always different was mind blowing,” says Sherman. “I still look forward to the newspaper coming every morning.”

Sherman started writing fiction at age 12, and by 17 was a copy boy at the Montreal Star. After graduating from Dawson College, he worked as the circulation manager for the Star before becoming a freelance writer and later working at the Sherbrooke Record. He also worked as a music critic, features writer, and reporter before ending up as a copy editor for the Gazette for about six years.

In 2004, working at the copy desk by night and as the playwright-in-residence at Centaur Theatre by day, Sherman started working on The Daily Miracle. The play focusses on five people working on the news desk late one night: three copy editors, one reporter, and one former-typographer-turned-janitor. At the same time, executives are meeting in the boardroom, and rumours are flying across the news desk as to what that meeting might mean for the paper and their jobs. Despite his experience, Sherman stresses that The Daily Miracle is fiction, and not a documentary.

“I think it’s just safe to say that the play is a piece of theatre. It’s not a documentary; it’s a piece of theatre about five people working under extreme conditions and it’s my tribute to the newspaper business and to the people who keep it alive and work very hard and believe in it.”

This production of The Daily Miracle features Arthur Holden as Marty, who recently returned to work after a nervous breakdown, Ellen David as Elizabeth, who is trying to balance professionalism and motherhood, Howard Rosenstein as Benjamin, a womanizing night editor, Sheena Gazé-Deslandes as Carrie, an aspiring television anchor, and Jean-Guy Bouchard as Roland, a former-typographer-turned-janitor.

The play is directed by Guy Sprung, whom Sherman met a year and a half ago as a juror screening films for the Gemini awards. When Sherman later entered The Daily Miracle in Infinithéatre’s Write-on-Q competition, an independent board selected it as one of the top three, and Sprung leapt at the opportunity to run it. While the play is a piece of fiction, it still reflects on newspapers and their content in the light of a struggling industry.

“I think the future of print journalism is questionable. No one knows exactly what’s going to happen, but I do believe that it’s going to last,” says Sherman. “There are always going to be people who wish to read a newspaper that’s printed on paper, and there will always be people to put it out.”

In addition to The Daily Miracle, Sherman is currently working on Joe Louis: An American Romance, a play about the former world heavyweight champion that is in development for next season at Infinithéatre.

The Daily Miracle is playing at the Bain St-Michel (5300 St. Dominique) from January 26 to February 14.