Troublesome Toys in ‘Left Alone’ at Domino Theatre’s One Act Play Festival

Poster for Domino Theatre's annual one acts. Included are the show titles, playwrights, dates, company, times, ticket link, and phone number.

Alone at last? Not so for the characters of Left Alone at Domino Theatre. Domino’s annual one-act play festival, ‘Come Play by the Lake,’ will be staged July 5-6, 2024, featuring four one-act plays. Left Alone by J. Wes Secord begins the performances this year, and I had the opportunity to sit down with Secord and learn about their experience writing and staging the play. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

This is Secord’s first time staging and directing a play, although he has copious amounts of lists dedicated to different concepts of plays and other works. Although they have struggled with mental health, they’ve got to a point where he can get his work out on paper. The first show that emerged on the page was Left Alone, and the timing correlated perfectly with the one-act festival. Secord notes, “I had this in my head, and it inadvertently kind of lined up with some of the things I was actually learning in psychiatry about myself, and it wasn’t until I hit a breakthrough that I realized this play was actually a big part of stuff in my psychiatry.”

According to Secord, Left Alone “follows the tale of two sisters” on the brink of going to college, who decide on their last day in town to sneak into an old abandoned house, where one of them gets stuck in a children’s bedroom. Amongst the plush toys in the room is a clown, who begins to move and interact with the sister in a “strange and almost supernatural way.” Secord describes the show as generally “a horror play,” although it toys with other genres as well.

The inspiration for Left Alone came to Secord fourteen years ago in theatre class, when their teacher explained a concept of an actor moving so slowly in the background of scenes that the audience wouldn’t notice at first, and they thought: that belongs in a horror play. Secord says, “there’s nothing more terrifying than looking at something in the corner that creeps you out, only to realize it’s moved and you didn’t see it move.” He attempted to write and stage it for Domino’s one-act festival four years ago, but unfortunately the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the show was canceled. 

They were drawn to the one-act festival as an opportunity to put something out that could be experimental, and fit with the one-act format more than other possibilities. Originally, the concept of Left Alone was intended as three one-act plays that could stand alone, but also worked cohesively if staged together. Although, Secord found that they ended up being too thematically different and focused on developing the horror-oriented section. 

As a first-time director, staging the show was not without its challenges, including assembling a full cast and Secord having to learn more about technical and production elements. But Secord feels that everyone did well in putting the play together in time for the festival despite the “wild ride” it has been and is very proud of what they’ve accomplished together. 

Secord especially notes the joy of seeing everything come together, and the “first time everyone got it” as a major highlight of preparing the show, as well as going over all the little details and building enthusiasm for the production. His friend, Helena Cheu, wrote the music for the play, and nearly brought Secord to tears when he heard it played the first time. They felt it was exactly what they wanted and “everything [was] coming together.” Secord has vowed not to cry until the end of the production, and is “holding in all this emotion until everything’s done.” 

They have previously been involved with Domino in their production of In Love and Warcraft, which was unfortunately cut short due to COVID-19 lockdowns, and also recently acted in A Trip to Bountiful. He found both experiences to be fantastic, and especially appreciates the feeling of having found a stage family who makes them feel comfortable and “way more confident” in writing this time around. 

They express that “the concept in itself is interesting and unique enough that it might not be something that would have been seen around Kingston… It’s something really cool that will catch people.” Secord hopes to show people “that I am here and I am a writer in Kingston who is going to put on some very interesting plays.” They see Left Alone as the first project, and have “plans for future plays” and hopes to elaborate on older concepts, including a production based on their drag persona, as well as staging a show about playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends in high school. 

Secord would like to thank The Spire for helping with a rehearsal space, which he recommends very highly, as well as their drag mother, Patrick Brandt, “who has been nothing but a big help,” and without whom the play may not have been finished.

Domino Theatre’s ‘Come Play by the Lake’ begins tonight. Find more information here.

J Wes Secord (he/they), hailing from North Bay Ontario, wrote a short one act horror play called ‘Left Alone’ for Domino’s One Act Festival. He believes this to be the beginning of his climb to finish a long list of creative endeavors he’s excited for people to see.


  • Alyce Soulodre

    Alyce Soulodre (she/her) is a queer, self-taught artist and occasional academic writer living in Katarokwi/Kingston. She earned her Ph.D. in English from Queen’s University, where she explored monstrosity from Victorian novels to 1980s horror films, and taught a course on Victorian ghost fiction. She has been published in Attack of the New B Movies: Essays on Syfy Original Films (2023), and London’s East End: A Short Encyclopedia (2023). In her art practice, she focuses on the weird and wonderful of the natural world and popular culture, and her work reflects her fascination with creatures and plants of all kinds. She also serves on the Board of Directors at Kingston Arts Council and Union Gallery. She enjoys cheesy horror flicks, quaint detective novels, and tries to keep Halloween in her heart all throughout the year. Photo by Talib Ali.

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