Featured Playwright Q & A with Mike Poirier
1. Would you agree that your background in skilled trades informed some of the character development in Creative Criticism, (and possibly others?) (The main characters in this piece, John and Winston, were both creative writers with backgrounds in plumbing.)
In “Creative Criticism” the attitude and demeanour of the play’s main character, John, is born from his lack of success, personally and creatively. His depressive, misanthropic outlook on life can be and is very scary, as experienced by Winston. During the hazing of the new young writer, John mellows to reveal a compassionate and caring soul buried inside of him. In my experience on construction, I have met almost every personality you can imagine and I quite often fall back on these experiences to develop characters. John is one of these acquaintances. The play also highlights the insecurity that accompanies creative work, regardless of the artist’s achievements. Insecurity is a human fault that is prevalent in most humans, trades people are no exception.
2. What emotional responses are you most inspired by, or perhaps responsive to, in your plays? (Humour, pain, sadness, anger, fear etc.)
For the most part, my dramatic plays use humour to diminish the tension that is built in. I do try to rely on social issues: pain, sickness, death, religion, love, etc, to take the audience on an emotional journey. It’s easy to pick one emotion and arc it through a play to resolution... but to make an audience laugh, cry, or search their souls, is thrilling.
3. You have written quite a number of plays over the span of your career - bravo! What would you say was the most memorable piece of advice you received as a playwright just starting out?
It was during a rehearsal of the second play of mine that was being staged, when one of the actors laughingly told me that the director had told the cast to ignore my written directions. I was curious, so I called her and asked why she had said that. She responded with “I’m the director, when a couple come together in a passionate moment, I don’t need the playwright to tell me they kiss.” I thought that was great advice and promptly removed four or five pages of blocking from every one of my plays.
4. Which Canadian playwright(s) are you most inspired most inspired by? Do you find that that has changed over the years?
Norm Foster is an inspiration for his portrayal of everyday people in realistic, human situations. There are always one or two characters in his plays that everyone can relate to in their own lives. Peter Anderson is another favourite. He finds unique characters and weaves a story around their issues and emotions.
5. What's next for Michael Poirier?
Quite simply, I love to write. I will always write for myself and share what I believe is worth sharing. I produce some of my plays in my home town of Vernon B.C. and enjoy sitting in the back row watching the production and the audience. When they laugh, I laugh, when they cry, well, let’s just say it’s a fulfilling experience. I also have a play that was chosen to be workshopped this year by “Emerging Voices”, at Theatre One in Nanaimo. It’s a program that has a playwright, dramaturge (Nicolle Nattrass) and professional actors work towards developing a new play to get it production ready. That’s going to be a lot of fun!