Q & A with C.E. Gatchalian - "Crossing and Other Plays"

Vancouver playwright C.E. (Chris) Gatchalian is the author of three books of drama and one of poetry. His most recent undertaking is a collection of three dynamic plays that explore themes of sexuality and human behaviour. Crossing and Other Plays contains three plays: Crossing, Diamond and Ticks. Crossing explores the tormented, sexually charged relationship between a mother and her teenage son, bound together by guilt and fear over a horrific incident that occurred ten years prior. Diamond is an elliptical, metatheatrical dissection of one woman’s intimate story. Ticks is the frantic, metronome-accompanied monologue of a self-appointed, disease-stricken messiah, eager to bring a plague upon the city.

Here Chris talks to PGC about Crossing and Other Plays, how he feels about being called one of Canada's 'most daring' playwrights, and his upcoming projects.

PGC: Launched earlier this year, your most recent publication is a collection of three plays that have been described as "brilliant" and "disturbing". Tell us a little bit about each play.
Gatchalian: The three plays in Crossing & Other Plays were all written fairly early in my career, in the mid- to late nineties. Crossing is about the extraordinary relationship between a mother and her son who are trying to protect each other from the memory of a terrifying event ten years prior. The play is about abuse and love, truth and illusion, game-playing and harsh reality, the sacred and the profane. Diamond is a theatricalization of one woman's coming to terms with a private experience. And Ticks is about a diseased man who sees himself as a messiah, spreading what he sees as a necessary illness upon his city. These three are probably the most stylized plays I've ever written, so it's fitting they've all been gathered in one volume. While these are early plays, they are still good examples of what my work is known for: queer-themed, elliptical, non-realistic.
PGC: You have been described as one of Canada's most daring playwrights. Why are audiences/critics so captivated or moved by your work?
Gatchalian: I don't know! My work has often really divided opinion, but I'm cool with that. All I can say is that I write honestly and that I'm not afraid to upset or rattle people, whether it's with the subject matter I'm dealing with or the formal and structural experiments and innovations I'm engaging in. As an artist I've sometimes joked that I'm a bit of a sociopath that way, in that I really don't care whether I upset people's sensibilities. For some reason I just don't.
PGC: Do you see yourself as a controversial writer?

Gatchalian: No, not at all. Just an honest one.
PGC: What advice would you give to an emerging/early career playwright?
Gatchalian: Be serious about your craft. Study, see lots of plays, read. Be conversant in all the arts, not just theatre and literature. The more you are exposed to, the more fully-fleshed your work will be. Don't use playwriting as merely a stepping stone to becoming a screenwriter--theatre is the most vital, most time-honoured of art forms and must be given due respect by anyone and everyone who chooses to practice it. Don't conform, but revere the great playwrights who've come before you. Be arrogant. Be humble. And if you're in it for the money, choose a different profession, like yesterday.
PGC: Do you have any projects planned for the 2011/2012 theatre season?
Gatchalian: My play Falling In Time will have its world premiere here in Vancouver in early November, courtesy of Screaming Weenie Productions. It's due for publication by Scirocco Drama in early 2012. And my play about mental health for young audiences, People Like Vince, a commission for Green Thumb Theatre, will tour BC schools this coming spring. Also, I've written something called a "podplay" for Neworld Theatre--podplays are short audio plays that take place in specific routes in the city and that are to be listened to on your iPod while walking that route. Mine is called AuthenticCheck them out.


To order Crossing and Other Plays visit www.playwrightsguild.ca or email orders@playwrightsguild.ca.

Crossing and Other Plays is published by Lethe Press and distributed in Canada by Playwrights Guild of Canada. $13 Cdn/$13 US
ISBN 987-1-59021-112-0 
Canadian Drama & Literature, Queer Studies, 
Homosexuality & Religion
For more information on Chris visit www.cegatchalian.com