5 Canadian Plays Recommended by Playwrights

 

About Damien

Damien Atkins is a playwright and actor who has performed across Canada and the United States. Playwriting credits include miss chatelaine (The Grand Theatre/Theatre Passe Muraille), Real Live Girl (Buddies in Bad Times/Manitoba Theatre Centre/The Grand), the adaptation (with Marjorie Chan) of Hisashi Inoue's play In The Garden, Two Suns for Crow's Theatre, Good Mother (Stratford Festival), Lucy (Canadian Stage Co./Ensemble Studio Theatre - NYC/Delaware Theatre Co.), The Mill, Part Four: Ash (theatrefront), The Gay Heritage Project (with Andrew Kushnir and Paul Dunn - Buddies in Bad Times Theatre), and We Are Not Alone (Crow’s Theatre/Segal Centre). He is the youngest playwright ever produced by the Stratford Festival. Damien has been nominated for nine Dora Mavor Moore Awards for acting and writing, including nominations for Best New Play for Lucy and The Gay Heritage Project. He has received the PRISM/UBC Creative Writing Residency Prize for Good Mother and a Dora for Best New Musical for Real Live Girl. Damien has been playwright-in-residence at UBC, Canadian Stage, Crow’s Theatre, and Factory Theatre, as well as a Guest Instructor at The National Theatre School.

 

5 Plays Recommended by Playwrights

by Damien Atkins

Full disclosure: I am old enough now - and I've been around long enough now, that I know a lot of Canadian playwrights personally (some better than others) so I have a personal connection to a lot of the plays and playwrights I chose. I have performed in some of them, and some of the playwrights I chose are friends of mine. But that's not why I chose these plays. I chose them because I love them, because they altered my DNA somehow, whether I encountered them from the audience, or whether I was lucky enough to spend some time inside the play, looking out.

 

 1. Lilies, by Michel-Marc Bouchard

 

A weird and gorgeous play that I first encountered as a movie. And then I bought the play and pretty much ate it whole. Bouchard's plays are always lyrical and poetic, but also sharp sharp sharp. -Damien

 

Synopsis

The revival of a romantic drama.  Simon Doucet re-enacts for Jean Bilodeau, now a Catholic bishop, their past as lovers while rehearsing The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastien. Cast: 9 roles written for men.

 

Contact info

Lynn Carrier at Goodwin Agency

514 592 5252

 

Rights

Available for Professional and Amateur Rights.

 

Lilies is available for purchase at Playwrights Canada Press.

 

 

2. The Good Life by Daniel Brooks

 

Daniel is known as a genius director. But he's also a genius playwright, if you ask me. This play knocked me on my ass, it was so smart and funny and fierce. It was printed in an issue of Canadian Theatre Review. I have a copy. I will photocopy for anyone who asks. I wrote Daniel fan mail after seeing this play at the Tarragon years ago.  -Damien

 

Contact info

Daniel Brooks

dbrooks759@gmail.com

 

Rights

Available for Professional and Amateur Rights.

 

 

3. Small Axe, by Andrew Kushnir

 

A brave, incredibly thoughtful look at injustice and the complicated intersecting ways we identify ourselves. Dangerous, disturbing, groundbreaking and ultimately healing.

-Damien

 

Synopsis:

A queer white documentary theatre-maker is investigating homophobia in Jamaica. But what starts as a quest to expose an injustice, turns into a burning call for his own personal transformation.

How do we justly engage with an injustice? To whom does an injustice “belong”? Through a constellation of encounters — with activists, refugees, priests and ministers, journalists, artists, Pride Week revelers, and many queer people of colour – Small Axe asks us to bravely face our differences in order to discover how intricately connected we are.

Cast breakdown: 4M, 2W

 

Contact info

 Ian Arnold, Catalyst TCM, ian@catalysttcm.com, (416)645-0935

 

Rights

Available for Professional and Amateur Rights.

 

 

4. Sextet, by Morris Panych

 

There is no one like Morris Panych. He is so funny, so deft, so incisive. This is a very funny, achy play about six musicians trapped in a dingy hotel during a blizzard. Morris' plays are known for their brilliant characters and wit, but they are deeply felt too, and full of love. -Damien

 

Synopsis

Six musicians are stranded by a blizzard in their motel with only their instruments, each other and their secrets to keep them warm. Where will everyone sleep when everyone is sleeping with everyone else? Underscored by their struggles to come to terms with their failing careers, failing marriages and unfulfilled desires, the sextet tries to make a set-list for a show that they know won’t happen. How long can they keep their composure before everything they’ve kept hidden comes into play?

 

Contact

Pam Winter at The Gary Goddard Agency

goddard@canadafilm.com

 

Rights

Available for Professional Rights only.

 

Sextet is available for purchase at Talonbooks.

 

5. Someone Else, by Kristen Thomson

 

A blisteringly funny, bruising look at a marriage in crisis. This play has a certain kind of magic - it works on a mysterious subterranean level somehow. Every night in the lobby after the show you would see groups of audience members huddled, looking shattered. 

-Damien

 

Synopsis

Lately Cathy, a middle-aged comedian, has found very little to laugh about. Everything seems either tragic or frustrating, especially her eighteen-year marriage to Peter, a doctor at a local community clinic. Their list of complaints about one another grows day by day, and their teenage daughter is rarely anything but a handful. Despite a once solid and happy marriage, the couple has hit a snag that even counselling can’t repair. While Cathy falls further into a creative slump, Peter starts to fall for April, a troubled young patient who helps him open up. The two are unrecognizable to each other and themselves, and as they navigate middle age they push each other further apart. Can they negotiate their changing relationship and learn to be comfortable with who they’ve become?

 

Contact info

Nancy Lefeaver at Lefeaver Talent Management.

Nancy@lefeavertalent.ca

 

Rights

Available for both Professional and Amateur Rights

 

Someone Else is available for purchase at Playwrights Canada Press.

 

FINAL GUILTY NOTE:

I wanted to include a Hannah Moscovitch play, because she is pretty much my favourite Canadian playwright. But I found I couldn't pick one, because I really love all of them. I write fan mail to Hannah too.