PGC's Q&A with Natasha MacLellan
Playwrights Guild of Canada talks to PGC member, Natasha MacLellan about her new play Her Big Day, and how no money and a pressure-cooker atmosphere make staging it at the 2012 Atlantic Fringe Festival such a thrill. Hint: Hire the best actors you can find!
1. Give us a brief summary of your new play, Her Big Day, which is slated for this year’s Atlantic Fringe.
Jeremy is in the back of a church with his best friend, Jon, waiting for his wedding ceremony to begin. He is having some jitters, but trying to remain calm. Elsie, the Flower Lady, and friends of the bride and groom comes in to give him his flowers. She also happens to be the one person who might make Jeremy change his mind.
2. In Her Big Day, the character Jeremy has cold feet on his wedding day and must decide to commit to the relationship under very trying circumstances. Was the play based on personal experience?
Nope. No, no, no. Not married and likely will never be.
3. How have you gone about promoting this play at Fringe?
Haha. I haven’t really. We have a facebook event and will put out a few handbills. All of us will campaign to get friends there, but, the Fringe has its own momentum that comes with an audience, really. At least it does here. Truthfully, I hired three of the best actors Halifax has…and I think that will sell tickets on its own!
4. What is the most inspiring part of participating in the Fringe?
I love the crazy, living room rehearsals and the thrill of doing it fast and furious. I know that care and time and diligence are required for good theatre, but there is something deadly sexy about the pace of the fringe. I love seeing what people can do under pressure.
5. What is the biggest challenge of participating in the Fringe?
Having no money! And, fighting the idea held by some artists that there can be no work of quality in a Fringe.
6. Any words or advice to playwrights embarking on participating in a Fringe Festival for the first time?
Write whatever you want, because there is no one breathing over your neck warning you about dark plot lines or language. Do it for love!! Get whatever is on your chest off! It’s liberating.
7. You recently took home a “Merrit” (Mayor’s Emerging Theatre Artist Award) as well as being selected the protégé prize recipient by Portia White Award winner (and PGC Member) Mary Vingoe. How have these awards and prizes affected your career?
Well, both came with cash awards which helped out enormously! I paid off some student loan and got a car. Seriously though, the Portia White was great because I got a lot of attention over it. People from across the country congratulated me over it. The Mayor’s Award meant a lot to me personally because it put me in a group of previous winners, all Halifax theatre artists, who I respect very much. I was quite proud of that.
8. Many authors have a favourite inspirational quote above their desk or something inscribed in a cherished notebook to keep their muse flowing and to drive their positive energies forward. Please share one of the quotes that has kept you going as a writer.
Well, it’s something that I say to myself every night before I step on stage as an actor and what I say whenever I embark on something bigger than me: “Go away, Natasha.” Simple, but to the point. Go away Natasha, stop judging and let what happens, happen.
Natasha MacLellan, actor, playwright and director, has worked with Shakespeare By The Sea, Lunchbox Theatre, Mulgrave Road, Frankie Productions, Live Bait, Ship’s Company, Forerunner Playwrights, One Light Theatre, and is an ensemble member of the Irondale Ensemble Project. She has performed on stages all across Canada, including the Yukon Arts Centre, The Colin Jackson Studio and the National Arts Centre. She is honored to have been twice named the protégé of respected theatre artists: Jenny Munday, recipient of the inaugural Mallory Gilbert award for demonstrated leadership in the theatre community and Mary Vingoe, recipient of the Portia White Prize in 2009. In 2010, Natasha received the Mayor's Award for Emerging Artist. She has penned a handful of plays including Ms. Right Now, which recently completed a successful run at the Plutonium Playhouse and In The Valley, a recent Atlantic Fringe Festival Hit. She is the co-founder of Forerunner Playwrights' Theatre and is a member of Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre.