Lessons in Temperament

an Outside the March Film

“A memoir of minds gone out of tune” – The New York Times

Produced in Partnership with
Soulpepper Theatre Company, TO Live, The Rose Theatre, The Stratford Festival, Crow’s Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, Mirvish Productions, The Harbourfront Centre and Talk is Free Theatre

Lessons in Temperament is available to stream on demand!
Apple TV
Google Play
YouTube Movies

The story of four neurodiverse brothers, told through a cinematic escape into the art and science of piano tuning. An instrument goes out of tune whether or not anyone plays it – something that musician and theatre-maker James Smith knows all too well. So after months of being unemployed during the pandemic, he decides that he will spend his lockdown visiting shuttered theatres, and doing what he can to keep their pianos in tune. This ritual soon unlocks James’ own search for balance, growing up as one of four brothers living with obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. 

Adapted into a feature film by Smith and Director Mitchell Cushman from their award-winning play, Lessons in Temperament, offers an urgent and cathartic story that takes the audience inside James’ mind, inside his piano, and inside a dozen of Ontario’s most iconic theatres.  

Lessons in Temperament may contain some triggering scenes about mental health crises, suicide, violence, homelessness. We recognize that some of this material may be difficult for our audience members. 


a memoir of minds gone out of tune

The New York Times

Lessons In Temperament

The New York Times

intimate, deeply felt and poignant… wise and heartfelt lessons for us all.

NOW Magazine

Lessons In Temperament

NOW Magazine

Do yourself a favour and experience this show.

Mooney on Theatre

Lessons In Temperament

Mooney on Theatre

Lessons In Temperament

Creative Team

Writer and Performer – James Smith

Director – Mitchell Cushman 

Director of Photography – Gabriela Osio Vanden

Production Designer – Nick Blais 

Editor – Maria Todorov-Topouzov

Composer – Bram Gielen

Producers – Jenn McGouran, Laura McCallum, Rebeccah Love

Executive Producers
Josh Hellyer
David Daniels
Laurence Siegel
Judy Gladstone
Andrew Nicholas McCann Smith
Michael Levine