In the world premiere of Roses & Thorns this week, Nadine Djoury, Liz Johnston and Ann Pornel invite you to reflect on the highs–and lows–of your day.

This original unscripted comedy was inspired by Johnston’s reflections on summer camp. “I went [to summer camp] for 13 years and we did roses and thorns after most days–and certainly
after most camping/canoe trips! The thing I loved the most about roses and thorns is that it would often turn out that the obvious thorn was actually a rose. The time a moose attacked my
friend’s tent they were terrified but it turned out it was the best/funniest memory of the summer.”

We chatted with the creators about the performance, opening this week.

SDTC: For those who maybe forgot how to play, what exactly is Roses & Thorns?

Nadine Djoury: Roses & Thorns is a great way to connect with people you’re sharing an experience with. At the end of the day, each person shares their rose (what was their favourite part of their day), their thorn (what they found challenging) and their bud (what they’re looking forward to tomorrow).

Liz Johnston: I love doing this at the end of the day with friends because it gives us the opportunity go through what we thought were the high and low points of the day and often they don’t all match up. But the best part is when going through the buds for tomorrow or the next time everyone meets, is that anything one might say is usually met with a chorus of “oh yeah!” or “me too!”.

Ann Pornel: It’s a great way of remembering stuff you might’ve forgotten about, which is great when you’ve got a terrible memory like me.

What are your memories from playing this in your younger years?

LJ: I remember one canoe trip in Algonquin park where the thunderstorms can move in very very quickly. There was this massive storm that took down big trees, and turned the sky black at 5 p.m. We had just made it to our campsite in time and were in the midst of setting up tents and tarps when the rain started and the thunder was so loud it made us all scream. Later after the storm passed, probably over breakfast the following day, we did roses and thorns and I shared that I had been so frightened setting everything that I had basically peed my pants, I couldn’t make it all the way into the forest to find a tree to go behind. That was a thorn, but of course everyone else started sharing almost the exact same story. Someone else had been too afraid to go out much past the tent in the night and ended up peeing all over her own shoes. As we shared our “thorns” we laughed so hard, that the stories themselves became roses. I can’t even remember the “roses” of things that went well on that trip.

AP: I was only introduced to this recently when Nadine, Liz and I went to Croatia together, but for sure the “rose” of my day today will be learning that Liz pissed in her shoes.

ND: Every moment matters.

Can you tell us about how/when the idea came to you to stage this as a show?

ND: As Ann mentioned, we were traveling together in Croatia and after playing Roses & Thorns each night, Liz mentioned that it would make a great improv format so we started brainstorming from there!

AP: This was the same trip that a bird pooed on Liz’s head.

LJ: I have… a lot of hair so getting it out was not an easy proposition. It was awful of course but as Ann and Nadine tried to get it out and walk me past the crowd of onlookers shouting “that’s good luck you know!” they made me laugh so hard that at the end of the day I included it as both a thorn and a rose.

AP: A lot of my “roses” seem to be Liz’s moments of schadenfreude.

What can audiences expect? Is there audience participation?

ND: Audiences can expect big laughs from some of the city’s best improvisers, the opportunity for self-reflection as we enter a new year and the chance to revisit their day through a new, hopeful lens. Three audiences members will be given a rose and invited to share the rose, thorn, and bud’s of their day, to serve as inspiration for the show.

LJ: So limited participation, but hopefully it will get the audience to reflect on their own days and what their hopeful about in the days to come.

Can we play now?


Rose: That chocolate danish I ate.

Thorn: That chocolate danish I ate.

Bud: That chocolate danish I will eat tomorrow.


Rose: I saw Cats the Musical yesterday and identified so much with Rum Tum Tugger I have a new dream role.

Thorn: Knowing that Rum Tum Tugger is usually reserved for men-identifying folks… so hopefully someone’s willing to take a chance on me.

Bud: To be the first Filipina Rum Tum Tugger to be cast in a professional production of Cats.


Rose: I’m reading a book I absolutely love, and I can’t wait to get back to it, which is one of my favourite feelings.

Thorn: My partner was holding my dog up when she was a nervous about something and I went to hold her and got scratched on my stomach. By accident, but sheesh! Ouch!

Bud: Getting to do this show with these people and start rehearsals soon. Also Star Wars comes out soon.

In your opinion, why is this a good show for January?

ND: Because the show is based on self-reflection, it ties in nicely to the New Year where people reflect on what has past and what they are hopeful for in the future. We want to remind people to smell the roses, appreciate the thorns for what they teach us and always search for the buds.

LJ: Whether you believe in resolutions or not, January 1st inevitably offers the opportunity to reflect on the previous year and plan for the year to come. I think this show will give people a chance to see that even the most frustrating thorn could become a rose and if not, there is always a bud in the days to come.

AP: Because Cats the Musical finishes its run at the beginning of January.

Roses & Thorns will be at Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor St. West) every Friday at 10 pm from January 10-31st. $15/$10 students. Tickets available online or at the door.