Looking for a playwright

My friends at Jer’s Vision, who have been staging readings of my play Ex Cathedra for high school students, are looking for a playwright to work on an upcoming project. They’re hosting a four day forum, “Dare to Stand Out,” for youth aged 14-17 in December 2012 covering topics such as hepatitis C, sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections, and how discrimination can lead to the transmission of these conditions.

They’d like to include some dramatic readings as part of their programming – and in particular want pieces that can be read by the youth who are participating in the forum. So they’re looking for a playwright who would like to help. If you’re interested, send a proposal (no more than one page) describing your experience and your interest in the project to [email protected] by July 15, 2012. If you have any questions, please contact Loresa at the email listed above or at 613-400-1875.

An honorarium will be provided.

The Show Must Go On

Last night was my first opportunity to see a performance of Ex Cathedra at the Ottawa Fringe. While I’d had the chance to chat from time to time with the folks putting it on and did sit in on their tech rehearsal, this was going to be my first chance to see how they interpreted the play.

Alas, fate does sometimes intervene, and one of the two actors is unable to perform due to illness. I imagine no one is more troubled by this than she is – after all that work and time, to be stuck in a sickbed is surely the last place she wants to be, and I do hope she’s better soon.

But what do you do when half of your cast can’t perform? This is Fringe, after all, and no one has the resources for understudies. And yet, as the saying goes, the show must go on!

To their credit, Troupe de la Lune has found someone to step in as a kind of understudy, and although she’s had minimal time to prepare the company was able to offer a perfectly fine “dramatic reading” of the script – and honestly, it was easy to forget after about twenty seconds that anyone was reading from a script.

Were there certain subtle nuances missing? Of course – these come out of the rehearsal process and the luxury of time to digest the script and consider the meaning of the lines. But in my own rather unscientific sample of the audience who were present last night, it was clear that people got the point of the play and were perfectly forgiving of an unfortunate situation; it would take quite the curmudgeon to feel otherwise!

So kudos to the company for figuring out how to keep going – after all, the show must go on!

Did you see one of the dramatic readings? What did you think?

Going into Tech

The Ottawa Fringe Festival is about to open and I’m excited that one of the productions being presented is my play Ex Cathedra, part of The Lavender Railroad. The company that’s putting on the show, Troupe de la Lune, approached me about the play when Jer’s Vision put on a staged reading of the play for one of their workshops some months ago.

I haven’t been directly involved with this production, though I’ve met with the people putting it on to answer questions they had about the script, so when I sit down in the Fringe audience a few days from now their work will be as fresh to me as it is to anyone else in the house. But I did drop by their tech rehearsal yesterday just to say hello, and it was great fun to get a sense of what their show will look and sound like, even though I didn’t see (and didn’t want to see) anything from the play itself. It was enough to get a sense of what they wanted to do with their lighting and sound, as well as how they planned to use the space they have.

And speaking of that space … they will be performing in the Léonard-Beaulne studio, which is the same space that the Evolution Theatre production of Lavender Railroad was done in.

For a quick video preview of the production, check out Ottawa Tonite.

The play runs for half a dozen performances during the festival – schedule details are here:

http://www.ottawafringe.com/shows/ex-cathedra

Do high school students “get” theatre? You bet they do!

 

Maureen Smith as the Commander and Beverly Wolfe as the Sister

Jer’s Vision, a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to fighting bullying and homophobia in our schools, approached me recently to ask if they might offer a staged reading of one of my plays at a workshop they were running for students in the Ottawa area. In particular, they were interested in “Ex Cathedra,” a play about the unexpected reunion of two lesbian ex-lovers, one now a nun and the other a high-level security official, in a totalitarian state in which homosexuality is a capital crime.

Some might wonder whether a play with gay or lesbian characters like this (it’s debatable whether you can really call it a “gay play”) is suitable for high school students. Judging from the reactions of the students who attended the reading, the answer is a resounding YES. Not only did they follow the reading closely, they engaged the actors and the facilitator with a series of intelligent and interesting questions during the talkback after the reading. One student, for instance, offered a fascinating insight into how the play was an example of the prisoner’s dilemma in game theory.

Not only did they “get” the play – who the characters were, their relationships, and the issues that they had to grapple with in the course of the play – but they wanted more. Many asked after the availability of the play and others like it, suggesting a demand for challenging play anthologies. Two students approached me to ask if they could put the play on at their respective schools and many others were excited by the news that a theatre company affiliated with Jer’s Vision will be presenting a full production of “Ex Cathedra” at this year’s Ottawa Fringe.

I hope Jer’s Vision and similar organizations – and schools! – will enable more students to engage with challenging plays and the artists who create them. Not only do the students get to debate the “real-world” issues that plays can raise, but they just might also become the next generation of theatre-goers. I hope so.