First Root is an independent theatre company, founded by Denise Mader. Inspired by the wide reaching connection available through honouring ones primary influences, questions, passions, and background, First Root aims to connect performer and audience in a shared experience of universal themes via personal storytelling and creation.
I called my company First Root because in creating my first play, This One, I was discovering and developing an artistic connection to my roots, history, experiences of growing up in a rural lifestyle, and the primary relationship of mother and daughter. I realized that the richest material was to be found in that which was already there. First Root also refers to the importance of honouring ones initial artistic ideas with a commitment to nurturing those first inspirations with courage and integrity.
"It was impossible not to connect with Denise right away; she has a lovely spirit and it felt like you knew her." -Kristin Archer ihearthamilton.ca
For the past sixteen years, Denise Mader has avoided two things: making a pie from scratch and dealing with her mother’s death. This One is the true story of a motherless daughter and her choice to confront her loss through a transformative pecan-pie-baking journey. Directed by Melee Hutton, actor/writer Denise Mader opens her kitchen and her heart to share her mother’s favourite recipes for pie and a good life.
A baking ninja with five kids, one husband, a farm to run and a kitchen to dance in, Louise Mader had her hands full when her life was cut short. Using the challenge of baking a pie from scratch as a catalyst to confront her fears and the realities of loss, her daughter Denise invites you to join her as she tests whether acceptance can be “easy as pie”. A slice of storytelling, a dash of theatrics and bountiful real life experience, This One is perfect on the palette.
This One began as a solo piece devised while Denise Mader was completing her MFA at York University. Workshopped at the Hamilton Fringe Festival in 2013, This One stole hearts and reviews. After continuing development, Denise presented the Toronto Premiere of This One as a full-length production directed by Dora Nominated Melee Hutton (Miss Julie: Sheh’mah, KICK Theatre -- 5 Dora Nominations; The Dumb Waiter, Wordsmyth Theatre -- Dora nomination for Outstanding Direction). Assistant directed by Kristin Boivin (Macbeth, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, Theatre@York). Set design by Dora award winning designer Andrea Mittler (The Dumb Waiter, Brothers Karamazov, Wordsmyth Theatre). Lighting design by Kaileigh Krysztofiak (Paradise Red, SummerWorks 2014; Elizabeth Shepard: Signals, World Tour; Technical Director for Stratford Festival & Soulpepper). Stage management by Kate Duncan (Apprentice Stage Manager: 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Grand Theatre; Alligator Pie, The Crucible, The Royal Comedians, Soulpepper Theatre Company; Stage Manager: Cymbeline, Shakespeare in the Ruff).
In the summer of 2016, a new two act version of This One will premier at the Port Stanley Festival Theatre. Direction again my Melee Hutton. Set design by Joshua Quinlan.
Welcome to Someday, a cutting edge psychological technology guaranteed to help you get what you need to live the life you want. Join seminar leader Pamela Steel as she deftly guides participants towards Someday, but then unexpectedly encounters an unplanned, unorthodox, and unexplainable lesson of her own. Pamela's presentation is hijacked by music (Lady Percy by King Charles) and her body by dance (West African). Layers are stripped away as someday becomes now: naked, joyous, and free.
Someday is a ten minute comedic piece that explores the physical and psychological connections around the idea achieving the life one wants…someday. A rigid frame of mind is transformed through physical engagement, acceptance, release, and celebration.