PLCN's Spring Launch - PGC Interviews PGC Members

PGC is excited to have so many members publishing their plays this season at the upcoming spring launch of Playwrights Canada Press, that we had to wrangle them all up to chat with them about this wonderful accomplishment, give our congratulations, and check in about how publishing a play feels firsthand.

Playwrights Canada Press will be publishing The Cure for Everything by Maja Ardal, It Is Solved by Walking by Catherine Banks, Oil and Water by Robert Chafe, The Romeo Initiative by Trina Davies, The Mommiad by Sky Gilbert and Brothel #9 by Anusree Roy. Phew! That is a lot of great books coming out soon—so get ready to send in your orders to PGC if you can’t make it to the Toronto launch, because remember, PGC members receive a members-only discount on all hardcopy play orders!

The launch and night of readings will be held on May 7, 2012 at Revival in Toronto (783 College St.). Hosted by NOW Magazine's Susan G. Cole and Jon Kaplan. Doors open at 6:30pm and readings start at 7pm. Don’t miss it!

1. Give us a brief summary of your play.

MAJA ARDAL: The Cure for Everything - Elsa discovers that the Cuban Missile Crisis threatens her future, so she tries to live her life as fast as she can. Sex, booze and the darker side of relationships get her in a lot of trouble.

CATHERINE BANKS: It is Solved by Walking is about a poet and academic who never wrote her poems or completed her thesis on Wallace Stevens's poem, 'Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.' Haunted by the illustrious poet, now her imaginary friend/enemy, Margaret uses the sensations of Stevens's poem and her memories of sex to reclaim the moment when she lost her way.

ROBERT CHAFE: Oil and Water - In 1942 the USS Truxtun, a ship carrying over a hundred sailors, ran aground on the Burin Peninsula in Newfoundland, killing most of its men. Oil and Water is the incredible true story of the sole African American survivor of the wreck, Lanier Phillips, the first black man to be seen by some of the residents of the town of St. Lawrence.

TRINA DAVIES: The Romeo Initiative - Karin Maynard is on vacation when she meets the handsome and attentive Markus Richter. But back home in Cold War Germany, things are not so simple. Based on a real program in East Germany in which West German secretaries were targeted and psychologically profiled to determine their ‘perfect man’. Half romantic comedy and half spy-thriller, The Romeo Initiative is a journey into the heart with a twist.

SKY GILBERT: The Mommiad is a performance poem written for me to perform in my drag character of Jane. It is a kind of epic poem about my relationship with my mother, comic and tragic simultaneously.

ANUSREE ROY: Brothel #9 is story of Rekha, a young South Asian village woman who travels to Calcutta to take a job making “flight bulbs” only to discover she has been sold into a brothel. There she grapples with her destiny as she discovers that true liberty lives in the human heart and the spirit within.

2. Who do you call first to brag once you receive the finished copies of your books?

MAJA ARDAL: My mum, my muse. Harpa Ardal

CATHERINE BANKS: I call the person who was closest to me when I was writing the particular play. I was very touched by the beauty of this publication and for some reason that caused me to not tell anyone for several days. I guess I savoured it. Then I called Karen Klee-Atlin who did the cover art that was inspired by the play.  

ROBERT CHAFE: My mother is the only one continuing to accept my calls.

TRINA DAVIES: My Dad. Anyone who thinks it’s interesting and cool.

SKY GILBERT: My partner Ian.

ANUSREE ROY: My mother. Of course, my mother! No one else is allowed to know the news first!

3. Do you have a special place in your home where you like to showcase your published book(s)?

MAJA ARDAL: On top of my desk reminding me to keep writing.

CATHERINE BANKS: No.

ROBERT CHAFE: Next to my wrestling trophies.

TRINA DAVIES: No, can’t say that I do. Seems a bit egolicious, but I have them tucked away in a particular place and I pull them out sometimes.

SKY GILBERT: They are banned from the house (except for the new ones for a brief period as I feel them and gaze at them lovingly). I have a special place for books I have had published in the past, because the past is only the past—on the top shelf in my office where I teach at Guelph.

ANUSREE ROY: On my book shelf. Beside Judith Thompson’s plays. I STILL cannot believe that the incredible Judith Thompson and I have the same publisher!

4. Most shameless publishing-related publicity stunt?

MAJA ARDAL: That’s such a Canadian concept. There’s no such thing as “shameless” in publicity.

CATHERINE BANKS: None.

ROBERT CHAFE: I am too filled with shame for shameless stunts.

TRINA DAVIES: You’re giving me ideas…shameless, hm….

SKY GILBERT: I dressed up in drag for the first reading of my novel Guilty, but I plan to dress in drag for The Mommiad reading, and to dress up as Judy Garland for the first reading of my novel, Come Back (which is about her)—so there is further shamelessness to come.

ANUSREE ROY: Ah. Don’t have one yet!

5. What’s your top trick to calm pre-reading jitters?

MAJA ARDAL: Make the lights as bright as possible, and make sure my glasses are clean.

CATHERINE BANKS: I probably wrote for 20 years before being invited to read before large groups of people that I didn't know. Whenever I feel nervous I remind myself how much these invitations mean to me. I look at myself in the hotel mirror and I say, “Catherine, enjoy every second of this privilege.” And I do.

ROBERT CHAFE: Not showing up. Or, a double Jameson Whiskey on the rocks.

TRINA DAVIES: Breathe. Smile. Breathe. Smile.

SKY GILBERT: I’m not the least bit nervous, I adore reading.

ANUSREE ROY: Drink water. Go pee. Drink water. Go pee. Drink water. Go pee.

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BIOS

Maja Ardal has worked in Canadian theatre for 40 years, mostly in Toronto. Her other published plays are Midnight Sun and You Fancy Yourself. Recently she directed her play, Prisoner of Tehran (adapted from the memoir by Marina Nemat) at Theatre Passe Muraille. She is Artistic Director of Contrary Company. This August she will travel to the International Women Playwrights conference in Stockholm with Prisoner of Tehran.

 

Catherine Banks plays include It is Solved by Walking, Bone Cage, Three Storey Ocean View, and Bitter Rose. It is Solved by Walking has been translated into Catalan and will tour Catalonia in 2012.

 

Robert Chafe is the author of seventeen stage scripts and co-author of another ten. He was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Drama (Tempting Providence and Butler’s Marsh) in 2004, and won the award for Afterimage in 2010. He has been writer in residence at Artistic Fraud, Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, Playwrights Workshop Montreal, and Forest Forge Theatre, Hampshire, UK, and a guest instructor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, and The National Theatre School of Canada. His newest play, Oil and Water, premiered in a sold out run in February 2011 in St. John’s and tours nationally this year.

 

Saskatoon-born Trina Davies is a writer, director, and actor. In 2008, she received the national Established Playwright Award from the Enbridge playRites Awards for The Romeo Initiative. Trina has also won awards for Multi User Dungeon, Shatter, The Auction, and Waxworks, which have been read and/or performed across Canada. Trina lives in Vancouver. More info at www.trinadavies.com

 

Sky Gilbert is a writer, director and drag queen extraordinaire. On May 14, ECW Press will launch his sixth novel, Come Back. On August 18, 4th Line Theatre will produce his new play, St. Francis of Millbrook, directed by Kim Blackwell. By day, Dr. Gilbert is an Associate Professor at the University of Guelph and holds the University Research Chair in Creative Writing and Theatre.

 

Anusree Roy is an award-winning playwright and performer residing in Toronto. In 2007, she completed her M.A at the University of Toronto and has since written four plays: Pyaasa, Letters to my Grandma, Roshni and Brothel #9. She is currently the co-artistic director of Theatre Jones Roy.