Category Archives: Blog

PARC

My new play, Mabel’s Bed, was chosen to participate at the Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, Playwrights’ Colony, May 11-26, 2014. I spent two weeks holed up in Anchorage House on the Mount Allison Campus, Sackville, N.B., along with seven other playwrights. I astounded myself and my dramaturge, Don Hannah, by completing the first draft of a two act play (87 pages!). It’s amazing what one can accomplish with no distractions. It was my job to do nothing but write. By nine o’clock in the evening my brain was mush and so I went to the local video store and watched movies on my laptop. Others went out to socialize at the various watering holes but not me, since I rarely drink. My social time was at the kitchen table during meals we cooked for ourselves.

In the second week the actors arrived and all of the plays were given two readings with time in-between to re-write using suggestions from the actors and dramaturge. It was wonderful to hear the words brought to life by the talented actors. It was the most exhilarating, focused, productive two weeks I have ever experienced. Many thanks to Jenny Munday, Artistic Director of PARC, and all the dedicated staff who helped facilitate this amazing Playwrights’ Colony.

Cameron ‘s GoPro Video

My grandson, Cameron, age 13, created the movie trailer “The Course” with his GoPro Hero3 when he was eleven years old. There is no film – just the trailer. Hilarious! He wants to be a film maker. Who knows, the full-length version of “The Course” may eventually be produced. Go for it Cam, you’ve got the right name.

I’m always impressed when children know early on what they want to be. When my brother was twelve he stated that he wanted to be an engineer and he became a very successful civil engineer. Guess what I wanted to be? Famous. Not a good choice for a vocation and probably the reason why it didn’t happen. No big deal. After a few years of trying to make it as an actress/singer, I made it as a secretary. I can’t be too bitter since it paid the bills (sort of). And I became an expert touch typist, which came in handy when I became a writer.

Some believe that it’s not the end result that’s important – it’s the journey. I think that’s a load of crap. It’s not the journey itself because that can be pretty bloody awful. What is important is the person you become as you travel through the swamps. Can you get up and start again after a fall? Do you keep trying again and again, against all obstacles? Can you laugh at yourself and maintain a cheerful balance between not taking yourself too seriously, and being very serious about your goals.

I said I wanted to be famous when I was seventeen but I never said it again. It didn’t take me long to realize that fame is no indication of worth. For years my goal has been to communicate through writing, and to be the best person I can be. I keep watch over my children and grandchildren and hope I set a good example despite my youthful errors.

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!

Daunted

I hope that once this website is up and running my weekly posts will become almost easy. However, until then I am a basket case as I try to decide what to put where, how should it look, what do I start with first. Last July I was so happy to finally retire from years of day jobbing agony as a secretary. Yes, I know, secretaries are now called administrative assistants but that’s just another name for a secretary. Now I am my own secretary being paid nothing as I squeak by on my tiny pension. But I’m more content, or at least I was until I decided it was necessary to do a website or die trying. I’ve been trying for a long time. Anyone who says it’s easy to do your own website is either lying, or they are those rare people who love technology and are undaunted by it. I am the first to admit that I am daunted.

However, if you moan loud and long about the desperate need for a website, and no money to pay for one, someone will finally hear you, take pity and help. Enter Bill Jamshedji, who is patiently pushing me down the perilous path to self-publishing.

I used to be a dancer/singer/actor and then I added writer/secretary to the slashes. I have now deleted secretary because it is no longer a career since every human being on the planet can type/text/twitter and are obliged to be their own secretaries. I often change the slash priority depending on what is pre-eminent. I have three resumes: one lists my acting credits; the second one lists my writing talents; the third one lists my administrative assistant credentials (actually the third resume has been deleted). I am way too versatile for my own good. I have learned and conquered a lot in my life. But I am still daunted by technology.

Single

Margot came to visit my new apartment, admired this and that, strolled into my bedroom, saw the single bed and said “That’s quite a statement.” I laughed and then I wanted to cry. I certainly never intended my single status (and bed) to be a statement. It is rather the pathetic result of Fate’s evil machinations and poor financial planning. It has nothing to do with a paucity of romance. Everyone would prefer a double bed to roam around in, with company, or without. But when you can’t afford to splash out on a big bed, you are grateful for the comfortable single bed upon which you dream.

This is what happened: I divorced the pathological liar (read my novel LIAR) and left the double bed with him. I moved back to St. John’s to live with my Mom and nursed her through a back fracture as she nursed me through another failed romance. She died a year and a half later, just before LIAR was published and I inherited two single beds and other sundry antiques. I then moved back to Montreal, pushed the two single beds together and had a king-size bed. Although a few men passed my threshold, none were suitable and the king-size bed remained chaste. Twelve years later I moved into a smaller apartment and had to choose between the purchase of a new couch or a double bed. I have a new couch.

A double bed indicates that you are still interested in rolling around with company and there is a possibility, however remote, that a suitable man might could maybe be placing his shoes under it. A single bed says, I am not internet dating, have taken vows of chastity and redundancy. I am a nun.

I am presently saving for a double bed, possibly queen. Meanwhile, surely my erstwhile knight in shining armor has a king-size bed in his apartment???