Live Theatre, Concerts & Events

The Tomorrow Box: A heartwarming story of home, heritage and being human

By Anne Chislett
Directed By Carolee Mason

What happens when the history and traditions engrained in the very fibre of a family property are threatened by changing hands, changing times and changing values? This is the question posed by Carolee Mason, Director of Studio Theatre Perth’s upcoming play, The Tomorrow Box, by multi-award-winning Canadian playwright, Anne Chislett.

Many Perth area residents will relate to the question as it pertains to a family cottage. In The Tomorrow Box, set in 1979-80, the property in question is a farm – a Century Farm – that has been passed down through generations of the Cooper family for over a hundred years. Jack (Rob Glas) and Maureen Cooper (C.Lee Bates), now in their sixties, are the current owners and stewards of the farm. Their eldest son, Joe (Mitch Waugh), has given up his career as a university professor to return to his roots in rural Ontario and carry on in the family tradition. He has recently married city gal, Alice (Courtney Mason), who is about to become a lawyer and is also following in family footsteps – those of her lawyer mother and older sister, Lisa (Tracy Noonan). Free-spirited, active feminist Lisa’s visit to Joe and Alice’s temporary quarters in a trailer – while they await possession of Jack and Maureen’s farm – upsets the apple cart when the sisters discover that Maureen is the only member of the family unaware of the sale of her home to Joe and Alice.

Herein lies the dramatic tension of this compelling, thought-provoking and thoroughly engaging play that examines traditions, gender roles and the larger narrative of family members under siege as each struggles with the part they play in a deeply moving, authentic – and frequently humorous – family conflict. Jack believes he has made the right plan, to retire and surprise his wife with a new opportunity for them to enjoy in their “old age.” After all, she’s trusted him with the decisions for forty years. What Jack hasn’t counted on is the heartbreaking and ironic revelations of a woman he thinks he knows who, like so many others of the time, settled into gender roles that are no longer viable in the modern world. Jack’s miscalculation backfires, threatening his place in the world – as the head of a household, a community member, a farmer and as a man. For Maureen, her whole way of life is in danger of disintegrating.

Joe is torn between allegiance to both parents and to his new wife who is stunned and angered by the turn of events. Alice shares her angst with Lisa, as she struggles with her own conflict about this man she thought she knew and knows she loves. “I thought I was marrying a Professor of Agriculture,” she laments, “not a farmer.” For her part, Lisa’s interest is in the feminist angle and legalities, wanting to ensure that Maureen doesn’t get “victimized.”

Carolee Mason hopes that the complexity of the conflict is both unsettling and engaging for the audience.

“If people leave the theatre talking about the play and having their assumptions altered by what they’ve seen and heard, I will be gratified. For Perth and the greater Lanark area, these characters represent our neighbours, our friends, our families – they are people we know. It will be particularly compelling for families whose homes are part of them, but it will speak to anyone who is a member of a family, and familiar with all the dramatic twists and turns inherent in family dynamics.”

The Tomorrow Box premieres at the Studio Theatre, 63 Gore Street East, on Thursday, September 28 for 7 performances (September 28, 29, 30, October 6 & 7 at 7:30pm and October 1 & 8 at 2:00pm).


Advance tickets are $22 (cash) at The Book Nook, 60 Gore St. E., and at Tickets Please ( and Shadowfax ( both of which accept credit cards and charge a convenience fee. Tickets are $24 at the door; students with ID pay just $10 at the door. Attend opening night and save $5!

Don’t miss The Tomorrow Box, an entertaining, provocative and uplifting slice of Canadiana and a great way to welcome Thanksgiving and the Fall harvest!

Maureen Cooper (C.Lee Bates) shows off the treasures she has discovered in a farm auction “Tomorrow Box”. Her city-raised daughter-in-law Alice, right (Courtney Mason) and Alice’s sister Lisa, left (Tracy Noonan) are unimpressed. Photo by Carolee Mason / Article by C.Lee Bates