The Plays that Shaped Us

Posted by
on April 17, 2013
Photo by Mieko Ouchi

Last night, I hosted my second play.write.night evening for Colony playwrights, where we were joined by the lovely and generous John Murrell, playwright, translator and librettist and former head of the Playwrights Colony, Artistic Director/Executive Producer of Theatre Arts and Executive Artistic Director of Performing Arts at the Banff Centre.

Along with Colony Director Brian Quirt, I had imagined the evening as a chance for playwrights from the Colony to spend an evening in an unusual forum. With each other. In the rehearsal hall, in the best of all worlds, playwrights are warmly welcomed, but even in these situations we can feel a kind of separation as the script is explored by our collaborators: actors, directors, designers and technicians. We are most often the only playwright in the room. play.write.night is an opportunity to change that.

After dinner, we gathered at the Painter House in the Leighton Colony. As host for the night, I kicked things off with an exercise stolen shamelessly from my good friend and former Senior Playwright in Residence at Banff Vern Thiessen. To begin, I asked each writer to pick their 3 best Canadian plays... defining “best” as they saw fit... influential, inspiring, educational, life changing. The only rule was it couldn’t be written by anyone in the room. Then I opened it up for people to share about these plays, the plays that had got them writing, the plays that kept them writing and the ones that challenged them to push further. Fantastic, joyful, eye opening stories that cut through the small talk immediately to what mattered. What moved us. What shaped us. What challenged and changed us. Hearing people talk about their own work in the context of what had come before was revelatory. It confirmed we are all in this beautiful struggle together. It reaffirmed our powerful connection to the past while we continue to push forward.

Eventually structure was left behind and we just talked. Late into the night. As John left, he thanked me for a creatively invigorating night. I must agree. I have dug into my own play today with renewed energy.

Onwards in the struggle friends-


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