PGC's Q&A with Vern Thiessen

Playwrights Guild of Canada caught up with PGC member, Vern Thiessen to discuss his theatrical adaptation of the novel Of Human Bondage, what inspires his genre-crossing plays, and what originally drew him to playwriting. 

1) You are currently working on a theatrical adaptation of Somerset Maugham’s Of Human Bondage for Soul Pepper Theatre. Could you talk about how you came to this project? Why did you pick this particular book and author?

I picked up the Bette Davis movie at a yard sale about 10 years ago. Then I read the book. It's one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. No stage adaptation has been attempted and I now know why - it's a monster! After nearly two years of trying to acquire the rights - through a labyrinth of heirs and agencies, I finally got them in 2010. There are few companies in Canada who can produce such a large and epic project. I approached Albert Schultz at Soul Pepper and he was immediately enthusiastic. I've finished a first draft. We've been developing it there for the past year and it has been a very positive experience.

2) What are the unique challenges and processes of adapting a famous novel into a very different medium?

I've adapted several books for the stage, including Wuthering Heights, another monster, so I knew what I was getting myself into. You have to walk a fine line between staying true to the spirit of the book and making it "your own." You have to transform a narrative art form into a dramatic, theatrical one. You have to pick which threads to focus on, because you can't do it all. Maugham was a outstanding playwright himself, and luckily the dialogue in the book feels fresh and contemporary. 

3) You have written plays in a variety of genres, from comedies to historical dramas to musicals to theatre for young audiences.  What are the challenges in adapting your voice across genres? And is there a particular genre you find most easy or satisfying to write for?

Different genres demand different skill sets, different tools. If you do it right, the genre releases your "voice" rather than you adapting your voice to the material. "What does the material, the subject, the theme, demand of me?" That's the question.  

4) Your plays have explored subjects as diverse as the life of Anne Hathaway, Shakespeare’s wife, and the career of German chemist Dr. Fritz Haber. Where do you draw your inspiration for so many different ideas from?

Wait for ideas, and know when a good one falls in your lap. Occasionally I go looking, but that rarely works. Both Shakespeare's Will and Einstein's Gift (which you mentioned) were ideas other people gave me. I take no credit for the idea. But I do take credit for the plays. Ultimately, I am using these historical characters to talk about modern, contemporary issues. 

5) What originally drew you to playwriting?

I wanted to write a play for myself to act in. Then I realized how hard playwriting was. Then I fell in love with the pain. You get to tell a story in one of the oldest art forms there is. And if you're lucky, it may last a hundred years. 

6) As a playwright, what directions do you want to explore and move into in the future? 

My entire career, I have worked on commission. Someday, I would like to be forced to come up with my own idea. And then see if it amounts to anything.

+++

Vern Thiessen is a playwright, screenwriter, actor, director, dramaturg and theatre educator. Vern holds a B.A. from the University of Winnipeg and an M.F.A. in playwriting from the University of Alberta. From 1993-1996, he was Artistic Coordinator of Drama at Lakeland College in Lloydminster, Alberta. He continues to teach at various institutions, including the University of Alberta Department of Drama, where he was Honorary Research Fellow in Playwriting in 1996-97. He lives and works in Edmonton, where he is a principal partner in Irresponsible Films, Inc.

Comments

Joyceanne

You are one of the most blogger I've ever seen, seriously Thanks for posting this informative article. Joyceanne

Awesome

It's a great pleasure reading your post.It's full of information I am looking for and I love to post a comment that "The content of your post is awesome" Great work! research papers

Existing without the answers

Existing without the answers to the difficulties you’ve sorted out through this guide is a critical case, as well as the kind which could have badly affected my entire career if I had not discovered your web site. vitamin c serum

This is the perfect blog for

This is the perfect blog for anyone who wants to know about this topic. You know so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really would want...HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great! www.rebelmouse.com/blackbeltblueprintreview/

Considerably, this post is

Considerably, this post is really the sweetest on this notable topic. I harmonise with your conclusions and will thirstily look forward to your incoming updates. Saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the phenomenal clarity in your writing. I will directly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates. Admirable work and much success in your business dealings!  Please excuse my poor English as it is not my first tongue. harga iphone 5S

I wish to show thanks to you

I wish to show thanks to you just for bailing me out of this particular trouble.As a result of checking through the the net and meeting techniques that were not productive, I was thinking my life was done. best face serum

I finally got them in 2010.

I finally got them in 2010. There are few companies in Canada who can produce such a large and epic project.streaming video downloader

Awesome

Great tips and very easy to understand. This will definitely be very useful for me when I get a chance to start my blog. deer antler spray benefits

The right connect

The smart variety phones will get sale quick every week and for social media instagram we should need an andriod phone. To say for Instagram followers - buy Instagram followers

Your good knowledge and

Your good knowledge and kindness in playing with all the pieces was very useful. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not encountered such a step like this. gamis terbaru

I totally agree. Getting

I totally agree. Getting interaction into a blog post, helps the actual blog post gain more traction. exchange rate great job!

The spirit of the book and

The spirit of the book and making it "your own." You have to transform a narrative art form into a dramatic, theatrical one.gclub casino

Nice & Sweater

Hypothetical representation of Thiessen is just a figurative measures taken for the blog other wise i am not sure about the novel writing, if you are English native country man then it is quite possible to write some novels otherwise it demands a lot of effort.  I am also writing  for some of clients on line which pay me online. There is nothing advance in those articles because they are just informative and even then they are read a lot thorugh out the whole world.

You have to pick which

You have to pick which threads to focus on, because you can't do it all. Rachel Anderson

I found this post very

I found this post very exciting. I think you will have any other post on this topic? I am also sending it to my friend to enjoy your working style. Cheers! Delray Beach Injury Lawyer

This subject has interested

This subject has interested me for quite some time. I have just started researching it on the Internet and found your post to be informative. Thanks Flood Damage Boca Raton

Good

We are closing near to an beautifu 

Easter dates and greetings 2014

month want something special?check out  Easter Bible Verses 

What does the material, the

What does the material, the subject, the theme, demand of me?" That's the question. model mayhem

You might write about the

You might write about the survey/results on the blog. You should type it's beneficial. Your blog standpoint may grow your piggyback. bubblegum casting leigtimate

Hey..

I can see some great  writing skills in this post.. Very nice sharing

Shalwar Kameez Design

god of war 3 pc

It’s evident that you know what you’re writing about and you’ve managed to do it in an interesting way. I’m curious what will be in the next article – expect to see me here quite often! igi game free download

I read a novel of Human

I read a novel of Human Bondage its very interesting novel .Its full of interesting facts and twists campervan hire New Zealand

Hiya, I am really glad I have

Hiya, I am really glad I have found this info. Today bloggers publish only about gossips and internet and this is really irritating lowongan kerja terbaru.

writing essay services

This web site write-up actually got the focus. Having said that Let me join. For that reason writing essay services I most certainly will get more updates about what you will need to state. You need to retain composing since I have to know more.

Awesome

This is a wonderful article, Given so much info in it, These type of articles keeps the users interest in the website, and keep on sharing more ... good luck. prototype printed circuit board assembly

You can post on the articles

You can post on the articles for the blog. You might sound out it's essential. Your blog particulars can increase your treasure. bubblegum casting

what does bubblegum casting do

Grand Theft Auto 5 how much there's to do (and exactly how low cost that is). Rapidly cost, it will cost more cash the following than most towns, although you'll have considerably more fun executing it. To view guidance make sure you check out what does bubblegum casting do

Debit card issue

i face this problem too but i never step back from problem i always face problems and over come those problems Dental treatment abroad. Human faces problems at every step and these problems try to demorale the humans Dental implants cost

Wallet passbee Media

Outstanding write-up I really like your content adore the way you described things, you do a terrific task most of other folks as if you through in which kind of helpful information sites supply consciousness to us related to a lot of things. When i understand some other exciting sites through your sites along with My business is so much interested with your writing a blog skills, We additionally did start to generate blogs and this also sort information sites actually assist me personally out and about.

Wallet passbee Media

If you do it right, the genre

If you do it right, the genre releases your "voice" rather than you adapting your voice to the material. "is bubblegum casting legitimate

is bubblegum casting legitimate

howdy, your websites are really good. I appreciate your work. is bubblegum casting legitimate

Thanks for a very interesting

Thanks for a very interesting blog. What else may I get that kind of info written in such a perfect approach? I’ve a undertaking that I am simply now operating on, and I have been at the look out for such info. acne no more mike walden guide reviews

I like the way you described

I like the way you described the topic with such clarity. This is something I have been thinking about for a long time and you really captured the essence of the subject. c maps marine charts

vaporizers

how much there's to do (and exactly how low cost that is). Rapidly cost, it will cost more cash the following than most towns, although you'll have considerably more fun executing it. To view guidance make sure you check out.vaporizers

You should comment on the

You should comment on the details of the blog. You can dispatch it's pure gold. Your blog hunches shall expand your subscriptions. pressure washing business

Create store cards

Your approach to this post is unique and appreciating. I am writing an article for our research paper and this post has helped me. Thanks.Create store cards

Best store cards online

I'm at this time considering a job adjust this also submit assisted to determine Best store cards online yet another element of a. We value the document.

You could post on the samples

You could post on the samples for the blog. You may distribute it's priceless. Your blog critiquing should heighten your clicks. what does bubblegum casting do

This is my first time visit

This is my first time visit at here and i am actually happy to read everthing at one place berita terkini.

It is an amazing strategy, I

It is an amazing strategy, I will do it like you said for sure! www.yachtcharterlefkas.de

You should write about the

You should write about the product guarantee on the blog. You can publish its handy. The blog perception of shall multiply your bank account. read about the book: www.archive.org/details/desiresystemreview/

I have been teaching a class

I have been teaching a class and we are looking at this subject in the next week. Filmes torrent

Vern Thiessen is a dramatist,

Vern Thiessen is a dramatist, screenwriter, performer, chief, dramaturg and theatre teacher. Vern holds a B.a. from the University of Winnipeg and a M.f.a. in playwriting from the University of Alberta. From 1993-1996, he was Artistic Coordinator of Drama at Lakeland College in Lloydminster, Alberta. He keeps on instructing at different organizations, including the University of Alberta Department of Drama, where he was Honorary Research Fellow in Playwriting in 1996-97. He lives and works in Edmonton, where he is a vital accomplice in Irresponsible Films, Inc.masters dissertation

Thank you for this amazing

Thank you for this amazing strategy, I will apply it for sure! link

I as well am an aspiring blog

I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I'm still new to the whole thing. https://archive.org/details/PregnancyMiracleBookReviews

I am currently looking into a

I am currently looking into a career change and this post helped to see another aspect of the industry. I appreciate your article. Back Pain Ipswich

I have been teaching a class

I have been teaching a class and we are looking at this subject in the next week. I will be directing my student to look at your post for good information. buy facebook fans

I am writing a research paper

I am writing a research paper and collecting information on this topic. Your post is one of the better that I have read. Thank you for putting this information into one location. Animal Onesies

I really like the dear information

I really like the dear information you offer in your articles. I'm able to bookmark your site and show the kids check out up here generally. Im fairly positive theyre likely to be informed a great deal of new stuff here than anyone else! Xiu Xiu Meitu Photo Editor

Sometimes it is extremely

Sometimes it is extremely difficult to explore good and useful information out there when doing research. Now I will send it to my colleagues as well. Thanks for helping me out. responsive design examples