Ghost World Comes to Montreal Stage

Cult-Classic Graphic Novel Translated into Play by Director and Concordia Masters Student Josie Teed

  • From left to right: Sarah Foulkes and Beky Seltzer play Becky and Enid. Photo Juilia Miele

Growing up and moving on is tough. What’s even tougher than that is deciding what to move on from, and experiencing the events that will eventually shape us.

Based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes, Tuesday Night Cafe Theatre presents Ghost World, the play. Written and directed by soon-to-be-graduating McGill student Josie Teed, Ghost World follows the story of best friends Becky and Enid, two girls on the brink of graduating from high school.

“I tried to be really active about it when I was searching for what work I wanted to adapt into a play,” Teed said at the press showing. “I wanted something fun, short, and about women. I didn’t know where I could find this since there are stories like that nearly everywhere.”

As coincidence would have it, it was a friend of Teed’s that had recommended she check out Ghost World just for a good read. Teed was so taken with the complex characters and interesting narrative that she decided to write and direct a play based off of it. A cult-classic, Ghost World lends itself to be a highly relatable piece of fiction. Translated into a theatrical performance, it’s plain to see that Teed chose this piece for exactly that reason. The coming of age story that unfolds between the two girls who are steadily drifting apart at such a transitional part of their lives feels familiar and, at the same time, sad.

Teed explained that she pulled lines directly from the duo-tone graphic novel, while simultaneously choosing the most important parts for the stage production. Queue the flashbacks of high school, as the play dealt with the typical angst, cynicism, and the rush to get the fuck out of high school that most of us felt. On the other hand, the play addressed the reluctance to leave so soon for fear of the unknown—perhaps at the cost of loneliness, failure, or being left behind.

As Enid is faced with the possibility that she may have to move away to attend college in another town, she desperately struggles between being consumed by wanderlust and not entirely wanting to be apart from Becky. On the other hand, Becky is trying to wrap her mind around the idea of being left behind and not having Enid in her life anymore.

The sets played a subtle homage to the minimal palette that is found in the original graphic novel. The play moves from scene to scene as the girls spend time together; mocking the people around them, laughing at souls seeking love while, deep down, love may be something they want for themselves.

The play was slow-paced, but every scene drove the story forward and packed a punch. “That was something I had a hard time getting comfortable with,” Beky Seltzer, who plays Enid, said. “In my background in theatre, it was always about high energy. In this play, it’s not necessarily following the plot, but kind of a fly on the wall experience where
we’re reading magazines and shit-talking people half the time.”

“In my background in theatre, it was always about high energy. In this play, it’s not necessarily following the plot, but kind of a fly on the wall experience where
we’re reading magazines and shit-talking people half the time.”—Beky Seltzer, actor

Since the play was based on the graphic novel and not the movie rendition, the cast and crew faced other difficulties.

“Because the scenes are episodic and not really cause-and-effect—save for a couple of cases—we struggled a lot with remembering which scene came after which,” said Sarah Foulkes, who plays
Becky. This was followed by a round of sympathetic laughter from her cast-mates.

Surprisingly, some of the cast, crew, and Teed herself were new to working in theatre. “It was an interesting environment,”Teed admitted. “Some of the challenges were knowing if there was a formula to this or if we were doing things right.”

Overall, Ghost World was a play that pulled at the heartstrings, made us laugh, and made us fall silent in reflection as we looked on, being given this small opportunity to see the girls change from an outsider’s perspective. We connected with Becky and Enid and, nearing the end of the play, felt an urge to reach out and tell them it would turn out alright.

“It’s the relationship between audience and actor,” said John Hanchar, the actor who plays Josh. “The play, as a piece of art, doesn’t exist until people see it. It came into existence tonight, and will then again for a few more times until it fades out of existence, which is super interesting.”

Ghost World // McGill University, Morrice Hall, in the Islamic building // 3485 McTavish St. // doors at 7:45 p.m. // $10 general admission

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