About the Show
How do we make sense of our experience? How do we find order and meaning among the events of our lives?
With theatrical storytelling and original song, David Mielke and Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma explore how we can take the seemingly random and sometimes difficult experiences that wash up on the shores of our lives and use them to build a bridge to carry us forward.
They delve into the heart of life after loss, intergenerational forgiveness, and the ways mentors and friends help us feel ready to say yes to love—gay, straight, or otherwise.
David Mielke and Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma
David Steven Mielke was born in Campbell River, BC, where an extraordinary teacher named Marie Rackham helped him turn his life around when he dropped back into high school after running away from home for two years at the age of 15. He went on to work in Los Angeles as an actor and singer, appearing in regional theatre and on episodic television, and creating and performing one-person musical stage shows under the banner of his company, The Rainbow Man Productions. He also volunteered extensively in hospice during the AIDS crisis. His original works include Rediscovering the River and Spirit of the Unicorn. When Marie was diagnosed with cancer, David returned to Canada to care for her, and together they formed a production company called Splashes From The River Multimedia Inc., and created 114 episodes of the award-winning Cozy Grammar series of video courses as a way for her to be, as she put it, “where cancer isn’t.” After her death, he worked in LGBTQ social services before returning to working as an actor, producing additional content for Cozy Grammar, and creating and performing his own shows. Member of Actor’s Equity, SAG-AFTRA, and ACTRA.
Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma is an author, poet, translator, teacher, magician, musician, and lover of life. He was born in Seattle and has lived and worked in Tamil Nadu, India, and Oaxaca, Mexico. His translation of The Kural: Tiruvalluvar's Tirukkural will be published in December by Beacon Press. Other titles include The Safety of Edges: Poems, Give, Eat, and Live: Poems of Avvaiyar and Body and Earth: Notes from a Conversation (with the artist C.F. John). He is currently completing a translation of Juan Rulfo’s masterpiece, Pedro Páramo. In addition to his writing, Thomas performs original work regionally and beyond, combining poetry, story, magic, and song in talks and presentations for the young and old alike. His solo show, “A Thousand Thanks: The Gift of Sadako and Her Cranes,” had its premiere in October 2018 at Vashon Center for the Arts. He serves as Language Consultant for Cozy Grammar and has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, 4Culture, Artist Trust, the Community of Writers, the U.S. Fulbright Program, the American Literary Translators Association, Ohio State University, Oberlin Shansi, and Oberlin College.
Read What Audiences Are Saying
Exquisitely, achingly, heartbreaking and beautiful.
Exquisitely, achingly, heartbreaking and beautiful. Just gobsmacked that anything could be this real and personal and transcend into the universal. But then how could it not?
A beautifully rendered, innovative and deeply moving show.
The Driftwood Bridge is a beautifully rendered, innovative and deeply moving show which portrays painful discoveries of self and tender fearful hope for love breathtakingly bared with exceptional performances, music and song.
I wept and laughed.
Inviting us on their personal journey of love, friendship and family, David and Thomas touched on what it is to be fully human in all its complexity and beauty and challenge. I wept and laughed and felt my heart soften in all the best ways. . . . For anyone who has ever struggled with their identity, or had a difficult relationship with a parent, or felt that they would never find true love—in other words, just about everyone—this play is for you!
An ode to enduring friendship and the healing that can come from love.
An ode to enduring friendship and the healing that can come from love. I’ve seen it twice with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart. The performance celebrates the love of two gay men, yet the story is universal. It especially speaks to those of us who have felt different, who have sought love while wondering if we would ever find the one, or may have doubted ourselves and been rescued by the kindness of a loving friend. Tom and David moved me greatly with their compelling honesty, magic, music, and great voices. I hope to see it again.
Authentically and insistently focused on love.
The show appeals to everyone at any age. Their original songs and stories introduced us to a child who received loving support from a teacher, a young adult who lost himself in intellectual pursuits, two dear friends who provided ballast in turbulent times, a dying father who finally saw his son, and others, including our two guides, Tom and David, who found their way to each other and fell in love. . . . By the end of the show, still clutching my soggy tissue, I was on my feet clapping and cheering with the rest of the audience for the joyful final anthem. And weeks later, I still find myself returning to The Driftwood Bridge to wonder and ponder. . . . The show is authentically and insistently focused on love – love between parents and children, friends, collaborators, and life partners. In this era of grand-scale bullying and incivility, Tom and David’s heartfelt songs and stories are like a soothing salve.
Hope that the world has a chance to see it.
I am so lucky that I was able to see The Driftwood Bridge yesterday. It picked me up, stretched me out, broke me open, and put me back together. I didn’t expect to sob for so much of it (any of it really). I didn’t expect to feel so much around my own experiences of being a child, growing up, being a parent and now having old parents – the tables have turned. I’m not sure what The Driftwood Bridge now holds in store, I can just hope that the world has a chance to see it.
A song of discovery.
A song of discovery . . . David and Tom give their audience the gift of themselves, always honest, revealing, loving, forgiving, and emotionally daring.
Simply beautiful in the most complex of ways . . . I laughed and cried and cried—and was carried on the delightful waves of your voices in songs . . . This is a beautiful and important performance, and I’m so grateful to have had the chance to experience it.
So moving, and so beautiful, and so unexpected.
I have just tried to describe The Driftwood Bridge to my husband, and have ended up ugly crying. It was so moving, and so beautiful, and so unexpected. Thank you for telling your stories so eloquently. Thank you for your beautiful songs and prose. I am so glad I took my 13 year old son to see it. He really enjoyed it too, though he did not blubber as much as me.
Everything that I Love in Storytelling
This show is everything that I love in storytelling. Like a Dickens novel, this play tells the story of those wise and caring angels who ”drift” into the lives of young people struggling with hardship and emotional wounds. I had the pleasure of hearing many of David’s “Marie” stories when we worked together at Subway many years ago and I’m thrilled to see that David & Thomas have brought them to life in this wonderful play. It’s a must see for anyone who has had their life changed by a special teacher.
Transcends the performing arts.
It’s rare to witness such devotion to craft, to one’s ideals and to emotional honesty. Thomas and David’s masterful work transcends the performing arts, becoming a portrait of a marriage and a tribute to the power of love and our profound capacity for forgiveness.
One of the most profound and moving theater experiences we’ve had in years.
Brilliantly written and acted, Thomas Hitoshi Pruiksma and David Mielke explore the universal search for identity and the longing for connection in one of the most profound and moving theater experiences we’ve had in years. Creatively and imaginatively staged, woven with touches of gentle humor, a little magic, and music that beautifully captures both the pain and joy of the journey, The Driftwood Bridge portrays not only the courage to love, but the highest achievement of our humanity—the capacity to forgive.
Thank you for your Gaybaret.
I awoke today at dawn with tears continuing to trickle down my face as I recalled the transformational experience of witnessing your show . . . You’ve created a vehicle for heart opening and deep self reflection that has the power to change hearts and minds.
I expected to be moved by the beauty of hearing about your love story. What I didn’t expect is the opportunity you gave us all to feel into the preciousness of living and caring for our loved ones through your powerful sharing of the lessons learned in the spiritual practice of tending to the needs of our elders and offering hospice care. The images and words I witnessed in your creations will surely continue to inform my practice of being present for elders and teachers for years to come. I am grateful. Thank you for helping us to remember the gift of being alive, loving and being loved.
Your show was one of the most meaningful, heartfelt, healing and brilliant I’ve ever witnessed. I grew up in the world of dance and theater. From LA to NYC I’ve participated in and witnessed my fair share of greatness but you two brought together all of what is most important to me in a performance ritual . . . I am changed. This was a gift I will treasure always and reflect upon often.
You tore me up.
Thank you for your fabulous story so beautifully told. It’s your kind of talent that can use your personal stories to address the truths within us all. I sobbed throughout The Driftwood Bridge . . . laughed too pretty heartily . . . Thank you for the gift of your stories, your music, your creative use of driftwood and one of the most delicious evenings I’ve had in a long time.
Take someone you love to this show.
Take someone you love a little to this show; when you come out you will love them more. And don’t forget to bring a hanky!
A joyous evening of entertainment and enlightenment.
A spellbinding creation. Thank you for a joyous evening of entertainment and enlightenment. Your show is important and needs to be widely seen, by all kinds of people. I’m sure it will.
For updates about The Driftwood Bridge online, at 12th Avenue Arts, and beyond, please sign up for our newsletter.
We are also delighted to receive testimonials and reviews as we prepare to take the show on the road.
If you'd like to contact us directly, you can do so using the form below.