Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Over at Superfluities Redux

Over at Superfluities Redux George Hunka does a fine breakdown on the book Outrageous Fortune. I'm thinking that I may be headed down to Theatrebooks to pick up a copy so I can discuss it from a point of fact but in the meantime head over to Superfluities Redux and have a read.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas 2009

And a fine and wonderful Christmas to you all

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In the Mail Box

I received this in the mail today.

Can you spot what I did?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday Quickies

On the home front are a couple of stories that are bubbling along. Over at Praxis Theatre is a hefty post on the Harold Green Jewish Theatre pullout of Yichud Seclusion. The post has some good links in it. Especially the one to Now Magazine. Go, read, play follow the links.
Meanwhile over at the National Arts Centre it looks like the "company" ideal is back.

And up in Montreal, Simon Brault's new book has people paying attention.

Down south of 49 has a couple of interesting updates. First off it looks like a compromise has been reached in the Miracle Worker casting situation. The Drama Circle Critics bring in their inaugural on line member and the Actor's Fund is going on a major housing campaign.

Over the ponds comes some fears on the decline in actors at the regional theatres and finally a meditation on the critics changing roles.

And finally: Big, big props to Lynn Nottage for Ruined being chosen the #1 Play of 2009 by Time Magazine. Way to go Lynn.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oz & Gender

Whoa! Alison Croggon of Theatre Notes is on a lovely tear on gender equity issues down in OZ. First a great post about the kerfuffle during the Philip Parson's Memorial Lecture.

Next some thoughts on the design of the National Play Festival's posters.

It really does feel like certain issues are taking flight worldwide.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Kicking the diversity ball down the street

So there was so much diversity talk in the air today that I got positively heady.
Some I can talk about right now which is the session I wasn't at. Georgetown University held a forum on diversity and I have some round up links for your perusal. They are also on Facebook right here.

From Parabasis #'s 1, 2, 3, and 4.

And while all of that is exciting from an American point of view really the big news for me was the gathering today at Cahoots Theatre Projects where reps from diverse companies from around the country got together to talk about the state of the art/theatre/browning the stage. It was very cool to meet some smart and talented folks who had lots of insights to share. There will be more details coming out as we go along but needless to say the Ad Hawk Assembly is going forward and plan on being a big presence in the theatre scene.

Guest B - Marcia Johnson

I am pleased to have Marcia Johnson as the first Guest B on NSAA. This will be a peripatetic feature that brings guest bloggers to talk about what they are doing around the world.

Canadian Playwrights Take the World

I recently attended the International Women Playwrights Conference in Mumbai, India. Don’t worry if you have never heard of it or Women Playwrights International (WPI), the organization which, well…organizes these conferences. This was the only the eighth installment since the inaugural one in Buffalo, New York in 1988.

I was fortunate enough to go to the second one (1991) in Toronto. I attended as an actor, doing an excerpt from a collective show by the Company of Sirens. It would be three years before I attempted (and succeeded) in writing a play on my own.
Since those first two neighbourly North American installments of the IWPC, the locations been somewhat more far afield beginning with Adelaide, Australia (1994), Galway, Ireland (1997); Athens and Delphi (2000); Manila (2003) and finally Mumbai in 2009.

As the Chair of the Women’s Caucus of Playwrights Guild of Canada, I urged members to apply to the Conference. I wanted Canada to have a strong showing. I was thrilled when more than twenty of us were invited to present our work. Unfortunately, due to several issues including work conflicts, visa problems and a shortage of travel funding, only nine of made the trip to Mumbai.
We were in contact via email for months leading up to the conference, sharing information about which inoculations to get, the most suitable Indian visa and, most importantly: casting each other in our readings.

The theme of the Conference was Liberty and Tolerance. I had submitted two scripts and was invited to do a reading of Say Ginger Ale. It’s my semi-autobiographical comedy (Comedy was a sub-theme) about a Jamaican-born woman who adapts quite comfortably to Canada and feels no connection to Jamaica. An unexpected trip “back home” unearths long buried feelings and a new found love for the country of her birth.

Only one other writer Gail Nyoka (Mrs. Seacole) in our group is black. So when it came to casting, I had to make that leap of faith and hope that the international audience in Mumbai would understand. Since turnabout is fair play, Sally Stubbs who I had cast as a Jamaican grandmother, cast me as a German grandmother in her play Herr Beckmann’s People. Her play was about a young German-Canadian woman who makes an awful discovery about her father’s actions during World War Two.

So far, it sounds like Canadian women only write about being from somewhere else and making discoveries set in our countries of origin. In our case, that is only half right. All the plays seemed to be about being from somewhere else (physical or otherwise) and trying to fit in.
We met up in one of the hotel rooms on the first morning of the conference and had five minute rehearsals of each of the ten scripts. (Yes, ten. Melissa Major had been invited to read from both Sapphire Butterfly Blue about the Salem Witch Trials and Art is a Cupboard about exiled Russian artists.)

Our plays were very well received. The feedback sessions were lively and engaging. We kept hearing people from all over the world saying that they identified with our characters. Playwrights began fighting over us, asking us to read their plays because our acting was so good and, more importantly, our speech was so clear. Several of us got to read in plays by Australian and Dutch writers but, because of scheduling conflicts, had to say no to Americans and Swedes.

We had been offered the services of acting students at University of Mumbai; our host. I decided to cast a male student as my love interest. We got to meet and rehearse for a few minutes the day before. He seemed to understand the story and the humour but I had to explain to him that, even though the character he was playing was set up on a date by my character’s mother, it was in no way the first step in an arranged marriage. I also had to explain to him and the audience next day what ginger ale is. It’s non-existent in India. When I asked for some at the hotel bar, the bar tender started pouring me a shot of Gordon’s gin.

I digress.

The audience laughed in the right places, the Jamaican accents weren’t that bad and I am now determined to get the play produced in Canada. I wonder if there’s a black theatre company that I could convince to produce it.

Another digression.

During the conference, I was voted in as one of five members of the WPI management committee. Among my duties is assisting the planning committee for the 2012 Conference in Stockholm, Sweden. I had already made some good connections with the Swedish delegation and look forward to working with them over the next few years.

If you see a number of international collaborations between female Canadian playwrights over the next few years, you will know where it all began.
Here’s a shout out to my other Canadian writing sisters who made the great journey with me:
Beverley Cooper (Innocence Lost: A Play about Steven Truscott), Trina Davies (Shatter), Jordan Hall (Kayak), Christine Estima (Central Line) and Tara Goldstein (Harriet’s House).

Sunday Quickies

So you might want to get into the act and write your very own ending to a George Bernard Shaw play but will you be able to find a woman director to direct it?

You might want to check out this new way of accessing scripts on line. Sounds like a fine idea and I am wondering whether there might be a case to bring this plan to Canada.

I say, of course critics can booze it up before the show as long as the actors get to do the same.

And then some thoughts on theatre photography. A skill that I must say has declined since the advent of digital cameras. Well not as far as the pros are concerned but they are getting less work as everyone thinks they can do an equal job. I have to say that being handed a couple of dvd's after a photo session and having to pick, crop and photo shop my own images loses its appeal after the first couple hundred images.