The Making of Bobbie: A Backstage Pass into Playwriting

By Mikaila Bolzonello

What do you remember from the last play you went to see? Maybe the stunning performances, the mesmerizing set design, the perfectly timed sound and lighting. It all seems to fall into place so effortlessly, doesn’t it? But there’s a whole world of incredible effort, dedication, and countless drafts that remain behind the curtain.

This month, I’d like to take you behind the scenes, and see how a play becomes a reality. Not the actors, or the set. But how mere words on paper become the root of the stellar productions you get to see.

I had the pleasure of talking to Trudee Romanek, the creative genius behind Bobbie, the play currently running at the Five Points Theater in Barrie. Even as a professional playwright, it took her years to go from an idea to the stage.

Local playwright Trudee Romanek.

It all started in 2021, when Trudee stumbled upon a figure named Bobbie Rosenfeld and felt an irresistible urge to bring her story back to life. There was a story there that she felt needed to be told, so she started researching and building the backbone of the play.

Trudee dove into old newspaper articles, found and talked to Bobbie’s niece, Rochelle Thompson, and read the only book she could get her hands on that talked about Bobbie’s history.

As Trudee delved deeper into her research, she began to pick up on notes of prejudice and anti-semitism — elements that would become pivotal in Bobbie’s story. Trudee collaborated with two cultural consultants from the Jewish community to ensure the script remained authentic and respectful.

It wasn’t until August 2022 when she finally completed her first full draft script. She had finally reached the starting point of the play.

The theatre wheels were now in motion, and by December, Trudee was invited to take part in the first workshop for her script.

Guided by Theatre By The Bay’s dramaturg, Leah Holder, actors were brought in to read through the script to help find inconsistencies within the story or the characters as well as share their insights. Trudee then spent months continuing to edit and polish the script.

By June 2023, she had just finished editing her fifth draft of the play, and was getting ready to go through yet another workshop.

Trudee mentioned that you reach a point where you feel done with a piece of writing because you have reached the end of your objectivity. Luckily, a script can continue to evolve beyond what you could have originally envisioned thanks to the help and teamwork of all those involved in the production.

Finally, on July 31st, after nine drafts and countless hours spent on every line and direction, the script was ready to get on its feet and involve the aspects of the production that you as an audience member would see on stage.

And that takes us to today. If you picked up your copy of The Villager early this month, there’s still time to watch Bobbie and see the love and commitment of this original theatre production. The play opened on August 31 and runs until September 10. Get your tickets at https://theatrebythebay.com/bobbie.