Monthly Archives: September 2014

Mabel’s Bed

Theme

A spicy stew of misconceptions, territorial disputes,
seal fishing, and disappearing moose antlers.

Synopsis

Three generations of a Newfoundland family are celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Mabel and Bert Cahill. This artistic family happily discovers they can be stronger when they all pull together and respect each other’s differences even as their pursuit of individual, divergent dreams threatens to pull them apart.

Homo Erectus

A Musical by
Joanna Gosse (libretto) & Donald Patriquin (music)

A light-hearted, musical about an artist
who discovers that womanly ambition is still considered a threat by alpha males
clinging stubbornly to the antiquated tradition of cavemanism.

Luciana Laurier is starring in a cabaret show at “Joe’s Dinner Theatre” along with her co-stars, Eddie, Jane and John, who rapidly become good friends. Lu quits her secretarial job and starts enjoying show biz life once again. However her fiancé, Peter, a consultant, is not pleased with this disturbing turn of events. His steady woman has abruptly metamorphosed into a diva and he no longer possesses a snuggling-in-front-of-the-TV companion. The angst is compounded when Lu’s daughter, Suzi, announces she wants to quit theatre school to join the cast of a mawkish TV drama.

Before long the Dinner Theatre gig is about to close and after a humiliating audition and a big fight with Peter, Lu promises to give up fickle show biz and channel her creativity as a writer in her spare time. However Peter soon discovers that Lu is writing a musical starring herself. Her friend, Eddie, who is not so secretly in love with Lu, finds an anonymous donor to back the workshop of her musical and becomes Lu’s conduit to fantasy, while her fiancé, Peter, becomes the anchor dragging her back to reality.

As Lu’s musical progresses we see her writing in almost every scene and Eddie, now Director of the musical, helps her put the story together and right before our eyes we see how an artist transforms mundane reality into the heightened illusion of poetry and songs.

Peter doesn’t give up his hold on Luciana easily and she is soon grappling with emotional and professional turmoil. Luciana and her daughter, Suzi, have a heart to heart discussion about Lu’s talent and the fact that Peter is the wrong man for her mother. Lu and Peter split up and Suzi agrees to finish school.

Three months later, as Lu, Eddie, Jane, John and Suzi hold a workshop of Lu’s new musical, another crisis occurs when Jane dumps John, who has a drinking problem. Then Peter shows up at Lu’s dressing room and tries to win her back again. Eddie interrupts, fists start flying and Peter is soon lying on the floor with a bloody nose. Lu is outraged with this exhibition of macho idiocy, says her final goodbye to Peter and throws Eddie out of her dressing room. All this commotion threatens to sabotage Lu’s musical.

Lu discovers that Eddie is the anonymous backer for the musical and has mortgaged his house to make Lu’s dream come true. It’s hard for Lu to ignore a man who has proved so devoted to her. On the opening night of Lu’s musical, Eddie surprises Lu with a big neon sign flashing:

HOMO ERECTUS
starring Luciana Laurier

Lu’s musical dream has come true. Write it and it will happen!

Voyage

The endless search
for what is self
cannot be bound in books
upon a shelf
cannot be found in portraits
that others paint of you
Words of wisdom
fall on deaf ears
not to be believed
Others have travelled
this road, before
and will again,
though the path be worn,
but there is always another poem
another story to be told
though the many characters be old,
There is an endless space
between what others see
and what we really want to be.

Eyes of a Child (Kayla’s Song)

I wrote both the lyrics and music of this song for my first grandchild, Kayla, born of my daughter, Linda, in 1991. I recorded it in a studio and presented it to Kayla on her third birthday. I held her in my arms and rocked her as I sang along with the tape. When the song was finished she scrambled out of my arms and said “No good!” Linda, and my son, André, gazed at me in horror and I burst out laughing. At the time, Kayla was into reggae music and Beyoncé and obviously not impressed with my ballad. Since then she has heard it several times, loves it and cries when I sing it for her. It will soon be recorded by my YMTGF and on this website before January 2015.

Kayla’s Song
(Lyrics by Joanna Gosse)

If I could give you all my dreams
I’d keep you safe from harm
To help you open every door
I’d give to you a golden key
If I could be there every night
To hold you close and be your light
I would, to keep you safe;

But you are so far away
And you need to find your way
To another place in time
Where we will laugh and sing
In a world we sometimes see
In a place that used to be
Shining there beyond belief
in the eyes of a child (Kayla’s eyes);

If you could find one God to love
Let it be the God in you
And let it speak to every child
For children need a place to grow
I’ll meet you in that world to be
and I will bring the child in me
And love, will keep us warm;

But you are so far away
And you need to find your way
To another place in time
Where we will laugh and sing
In a world we sometimes see
In a place that used to be
Shining there beyond belief
in the eyes of a child (Kayla’s eyes).

If you are sometimes all alone
Lost in a place you can’t call home
Remember I am always near
Never doubt that you are loved
You are always loved;

But you are so far away
And you need to find your way
To another place in time
Where we will laugh and sing
In a world we sometimes see
In a place that used to be
Shining there beyond belief
in the eyes of a child (Kayla’s eyes).

 

Dear Dollface – Herstory

My play, Dear Dollface, started out as a one woman, cabaret performance, to be performed, of course, by yours truly. But then I got tired of my own company and decided to write in another character. A one-woman show is a lonely occupation and what if the audience doesn’t like you or your character? Writing the character of Norma, was pretty easy because she was based on my own experiences. The character of Jade, the wife, was much more difficult. Once both of them had very strong voices, it was performed in a workshop setting. The main criticism was: “Beware of the ‘cantata’ style, ie. going back and forth between opposing monologues. Break it up with a couple of scenes where the two women actually meet and dialogue ensues.” Good point. What to do?

My solution was to create one scene where the two women are talking about the same situation with opposing points of view, even though they are in separate spaces. Another scene was written where the mistress imagines a cozy conversation with the wife as they commiserate about the man they share. And finally, near the end of the play, the mistress and wife meet inadvertently and the wife tears a strip off the silly mistress. All these changes were cemented in a workshop sponsored by Rising Tide Theatre in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Unfortunately, the sad fact of theatre life is that theatre companies receive development monies from granting bodies, but no producing money. We writers are encouraged to write plays and then what? No one will produce it. What to do?

Why not try it out on the small populations of Masset and Skidegate, where I was living at the time. I cast myself as Norma and Josina Davis as Jade. The local reporter gave it an excellent review and the audiences gave standing ovations. Meanwhile I applied for the Vancouver Fringe. Unfortunately Josina was not interested in doing the Fringe. What to do? There was no way I could afford going to Vancouver two weeks in advance of the Fringe and hiring another actress. Could I turn it back into a one woman play and play both characters? Yes, I could. And I did. And since I was going home to St. John’s for Christmas, would it be possible to try out my one woman, two character, play at The Resource Centre for the Arts? Yes. They had one week before Christmas available. Too late I realized that nothing was scheduled because no one would come to see a play one week before Christmas. Be that as it may, attendance wasn’t bad, and the review was excellent. I wasn’t able to fully process the experience because life (or rather, death) intervened. My father died a few days before opening night. I went on stage with his last words to me pushing me on: “I think you have a lot of courage, my dear.”

I stayed in St. John’s for several months to grieve with my family and to recover from an unexpected operation. I also decided that my marriage was over. I returned to Q.C.I., packed and left with almost nothing except Dear Dollface in my pocket. My reward for this awful/exhilarating year was my acceptance at the Vancouver Fringe 1998. Luckily, my dear cousin, Kate, was living in Vancouver and she put up with me for a couple of months while I travelled through the throes of ending a marriage and celebrating my emergence as a playwright. I’m happy to report that I enjoyed full houses and standing ovations at the Vancouver Fringe and actually made a few dollars.

Then, I sent the play to every Artistic Director in Canada and…..nada. Okay, Dear Dollface is really a woman’s story and the majority of Artistic Directors in Canada are men (95%), but really? When I was bemoaning my failure after so much success, one person said to me: “Why would any woman want to pay to see a play about the drinking, cheating, husband they are living with?” Really? But it’s a COMEDY!

LIAR

LIAR is a disturbing glimpse into a reality based on illusion. China Collins’ passionate mid-life marriage to Sam Eagle, an aboriginal lawyer, seems to be all she’d ever hoped for. However, she slowly realizes that Sam isn’t quite what he’d seemed.

Fragments of China’s poetry and her journal entries provide a fascinating glimpse into her perception of a situation that has bound itself deeply into her life, and that refuses to be unbound without a struggle.

Reviews

This is a very sexy book! It is a portrait of a disintegration, not only of a marriage but of a person because China loses herself in this relationship.

Angela Antle, CBC Radio

This novel is a warning, and as such it fulfills its responsibilities impeccably. Gosse has drawn back the veil and shown us that the narrative of domestic manipulation speaks in many tongues, wears many faces, exists in many cultures.

Joanne Soper-Cook, Essays on Canadian Writing

 

Writing Poetry

Don’t ask me to explain poetry. I just write it down when it comes – often unbidden. Sometimes I will place a poem in my not so secret blog and also post it in the poetry section. Just because. It could be either/or. One can inspire the other. The prose becomes a poem because sometimes prose just doesn’t cut it.

Long John Silver

What do you do when you’re down and out
and there’s nothing but a hole in your pocket
I feel kind of mean when I got no money
but I sure feel good when I got it;

Money is the root of all evil so they say
but I don’t believe one word of it
A jingle in my pocket is music to my ears
cause it helps me forget my troubles and fears;

Wheeling and dealing makes the world go round
spinning that wheel of fortune
Hey there, sister, do you want to make a dime
You can’t buy now? Well, borrow on time
Step in line and borrow on time;

Long John Silver was a pirate long ago (CHORUS)
He had a wooden leg and a long-tailed coat
The pirates of today wear a shirt and tie
and they make their money, make their money, make their money
selling sugar-coated lies
Sugar coated lies, sugar coated lies;

We take a second mortgage and use a credit card
to buy us the things we’re craving
We can’t take it with us – so everybody says
So what’s the use in saving;

Singer/Songwriter

In my alternate reality I am a very successful lounge singer, or folk singer. Unfortunately I cannot play the piano, or guitar (Lord knows I tried), so that alternate reality doesn’t exist in my real life. Maybe I should create a lounge lizard avatar. I have written many songs but the music in my head cannot seem to jive with the lyrics in my pen. Occasionally I have bypassed the short circuit and written the perfect melody to accompany the lyrics. But then I can’t afford to record the song and even if I did have the money, I don’t have a band. Once upon a time I was desperately in need a very young musician/techno-geek Boyfriend in order to become a famous singer/songwriter. Unfortunately that ship sailed a long time ago and I am drowning in its wake. The world is spinning at warp speed and I remember using carbon paper in my manual typewriter. Therefore I am looking for a young musician/techno-geek Friend, who will help me become a famous singer/songwriter, out of the goodness of his/her heart. Actually, I have found a YMTGF but you must be patient. We’re working on it.

Landlord

Unspeakable
so I write
My back aches fiercely
sending sciatic messages
shooting accurately
down my thigh
but it isn’t pain
keeping me awake
it is my landlord,
His girlfriend
is moving in next door
he isn’t mine
He would like to try me
and I him
I’m horny, it’s spring
He has the most wonderful
mouth, full, firm
with curling edges
ready to smile,
Crete-blue eyes
His barrel chest
stands on short legs
yet he is lithe and graceful
an interesting mixture
makes me curious
to see his body, naked
I feel their relationship
is inconvenient
I could be wrong
I would like to show him
the error of his ways
but I am a lady
he must come to me
I have sent unwritten messages
He is kind, so am I
Surface ripples
delicately dancing
towards coupling
A stone
could easily ruin
infinitely possible perfection.