Community. Space. Distance.

Posted by
on April 19, 2013
Playwrights Colony out on the terrace of the Banff Springs Hotel. Photo: Brian Quirt Sitting last night at the Banff Springs Hotel around a table of chatting, animated playwrights and theatre artists who come from coast to coast of Canada and parts of the U.S. I realized what a beautiful thing it is to have the opportunity to connect with writers outside of your community. From other countries. And what a rare thing it is too.

A few days ago in the Vistas Dining Hall, I had a chat with visiting Dutch art historian who is writing a new book in the Leighton Artists Colony, who said she was surprised by the size of Canada and the ease in which we seem to travel to different communities. In her experience, people in Holland consider the 50 minute drive between Amsterdam and Rotterdam to be virtually insurmountable. She said if you move to Rotterdam from Amsterdam, you can kiss your old friends goodbye. They will never visit! For Canadians like me, this is hard to imagine. In some large North American cities, this is the time it takes for people to commute from their home in the suburbs to work. This is roughly the distance from Banff to Calgary. In July, I am flying to Fredericton, New Brunswick to work as Festival Dramaturg at a new play festival and I will be flying 9 hours. And that’s within my own country.

It made me think about the unique challenges space and distance creates for artists in Canada. The internet, skype and all the ways we stay virtually linked help of course, but there is something so powerful about being in the same room with each other as artists. Can that ever really be replicated or replaced?

Today, we are going to have having a chat with our three American Colony artists about American Theatre: Colman Domingo from New York, Greg Moss from Albuquerque, New Mexico and Miriam Weisfeld from Washington, D.C. As artists from different parts of an equally large country, I wonder what they will have to say about this conundrum.

How do we stay essential and connected to our local community, while keeping our relationships to other cities, countries and their communities alive. How do we live local, think national and work internationally? How do we do it all?


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