Extremely Short Play Festival

Extremely Short Play Festival - New Theatre of OttawaI’m excited that New Theatre of Ottawa has selected my short play Late to be included in its Extremely Short Play Festival in early May at the Arts Court Theatre here in Ottawa. Director John Koensgen and actors Catriona Leger, Kate Hurman. Adam Pierre, and Brian Stewart will be getting to work on the plays that have been gathered – none longer than ten minutes – and I’m hoping to get a peek at the odd rehearsal, so more to come.

In the meantime, mark your calendars: May 3 through May 12, with previews on May 1 and 2.

T.E. or Olivier?

As my good friend Jessica Ruano has recounted, we took the opportunity to meet Simon Callow yesterday after seeing his show, Being Shakespeare: meeting him was one of those things on Jessica’s list of Things to Do. We decided we might as well go all the way in doing this, so we asked for his autograph on our freshly bought copies of his recently published “alternative autobiography, “My Life in Pieces.”

He asked my name; I told him. As he readied his pen, he then asked: T.E. or Olivier? I parsed the question – it took me a moment – and replied: T.E. He accepted that, though I perceived a hesitation and, I thought, a little sigh of disappointment.

It was later that I noticed the blurb on the back cover remarking about his hero, Laurence Olivier.

Wrong answer.

Writer’s Block

I can’t quantify it, but I know that a tremendous amount of the “writing” that I do isn’t while sitting at a desk; it’s while walking.

On the weekend I was taking a walk with a friend from out of town and thought he might like to see the falls where the Rideau River runs into the Ottawa River. When they’re frozen in winter I find it utterly irresistible to look at them…

Rideau Falls in Winter

Before ...

As it happens, we discovered city crews at work blasting the ice on the Rideau, which they do to prevent ice jams as the river thaws and to alleviate potential flooding in the area. It’s quite dramatic to watch, the broken up chunks of ice are swept quickly over the falls into the larger river below, and the water flows. And flows.

Rideau Falls after the ice is blasted

... and After

What does all this have to do with writing?

Well, a favorite route is to walk along the Rideau, especially if I’m stuck on some bit of writing – a scene that’s not working, a reason for a character to act in a certain way. In other words, the story is as jammed in my head as the ice is on the river. Somehow – the process remains a mystery to me – these walks often clear my head sufficiently to solve whatever the problem is.

And like the falls after the ice blasts, the writing begins to flow once again.