By Vicki Stroich, Artistic Associate Festival (ATP) and Program Director of the Banff Playwrights Colony (The Banff Centre)
|Vicki & the playwrights of the Enbridge playRites Festival |
at the Playwright’s Colony Speakeasy - May 19, 2012
From left to right: Vicki Stroich, Christian Barry, Christopher Morris,
Darrah Teitel, Jonathan Garfinkel and Joan MacLeod
It is 7:30 a.m. I wake up to the sound of the phone ringing in my room. I stumble towards it and pick it up. A playwright I am working with is on the other end. She has been very ill for the past 18 hours and is in rough shape. She needs a bagel and vitamin water. She can't leave her room. "I'll be there in 15 minutes."
After I deliver her something to keep her strength up, I head up to the Playwrights Colony HQ at the top of Lloyd Hall on The Banff Centre campus. I switch into Playwrights Colony Director mode and check in with our coordinator, my right hand man, Michael Kleinberg Bassel; we look at the schedule, we talk about deadlines and casting for the readings the next day, we speculate who will get their drafts in when. We receive visits from a few playwrights and one of our Resident Dramaturgs, Colleen Murphy.
Just before 10:00 a.m. I run over to the first reading of three, today at the Colony. This one is mine to run as the dramaturg on the project. We read a draft of Petawawa by Jonathan Garfinkel and Christopher Morris, a play that will premiere at the 27th annual Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays at Alberta Theatre Projects this coming season. The reading goes very well, the six actors in our acting company give their all. The material is intense and difficult, taking on the issue of how war affects families in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Canada. There are three sections focused in those three locations, and each one has its own narrative structure. There is a lot of new writing in the Pakistan section. The actors stay as we discuss the play. They ask a few questions, give a few impressions of what they have read. We finish the discussion and I am so hungry I am ready to chew off my arm.
Lunch with the group in the Dining Hall. I apologize to the young playwright whose reading I will miss in the afternoon, even though it isn't necessary to apologize. Back to the office to check in with Michael. I call the sick playwright to ask if she needs anything. Answer a few urgent e-mails regarding my major volunteer gig as President-Elect of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas. And I head off to meet with Jonathan and Christopher to discuss Petawawa, what we learned from the reading, what big questions have been left unanswered and what steps they will take next in their writing. There are big questions that need more time. There are discoveries made. We discuss flights to Pakistan and visa applications in preparation for our planned visit there together in August/September to better get to know the country they are writing about.
Back to the office. There are now two events to set up and encourage attendance at. A panel discussion that will be moderated by Resident Dramaturg Rachel Ditor and a talk by Jonathan about his first visit with Christopher to Pakistan two years ago. Where will they be on campus, what do we need, who is invited?
Dinner. More e-mails. I walk out to the Painter House in the Leighton Studio to join in Playwrights-Only gathering hosted by Senior Playwright in Residence Vern Thiessen. On our walk there, Rachel and I discuss the topic she is proposing for her panel discussion: dissent and conflict in process. A very interesting topic. When we arrive we join a joyful group of playwrights in mid-discussion. We join in the discussion and break into our own chats in smaller groups around the room.
11:30 p.m. I return to my room. Check my e-mail again. Think about the sick playwright, beat myself up (momentarily) for not making it over to visit Christian Barry, Hawksley Workman and Jesse Ash who are working in another building on The God That Comes and then I fill out part of my visa application form for Pakistan. And later, as I fall asleep, I think back on the day, the last few weeks and the last 8 years and I am overwhelmed again with gratitude that I get to be a part of the Banff Playwrights Colony. But I can't dwell on it long. I need my sleep. Tomorrow is another day.
To find out more about the playwrights and the plays of the 27th annual Enbridge playRites Festival of New Canadian Plays, join us at our free Sneak-a-Peek event on May 31 at 5:30 pm in the Martha Cohen Theatre. There will be special guests, tasty food and door prizes!