Thursday, June 28, 2012

40 Years at Play

Thank you to everyone who came out to PTC’s 40 Years at Play on Tuesday! 

It was very exciting to see so many photographs on display and to take part in the history of PTC. PTC’s photograph archives is a rich resource on Vancouver and Canadian theatre history and it was wonderful to see so many people engaging with these unique records. Theatre history deserves to be remembered and celebrated! On that note, thank you to Lesley Ewen, David King, and Kim Selody for helping to remind us all of how important PTC has been in the development of Canadian playwrights and original artistic expression over the last 40 years.

Thank you to everyone who contributed their knowledge, memories, and anecdotes. Our goal was to connect to PTC contributors and theatre makers and learn from their experience and knowledge, and your engagement and participation allowed us to do just that. It was wonderful speaking with so many playwrights and long-time PTC contributors and I am certain that our archives will be fuller and more intelligible to future generations because of your contributions.

40 Years at Play might have lasted only a few hours but it required a significant amount of preparation, set-up, and oversight, so thank you very much to all of the volunteers who helped us to pull it all together. Your assistance and ideas were very much appreciated!

Also, thank you to our sponsors! Your generous support allowed us to focus on providing access to the photographs, while still being able to treat our guests to excellent refreshments.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

PTC's Board of Directors' Summer Reading List

On Saturday we held our annual Board Retreat with some of the staff and Board of Directors. 

Discussing and sharing ideas at PTC's Board Retreat
At the beginning of the day we were asked to share what was currently on our reading lists.

Here's a list of what PTC is reading these days.

Canada by Richard Ford
‘How to Paint with Oils’ books
One-Act Plays
Star Island by Carl Hiaasen
On the Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche
Active Birth: The New Approach to Giving Birth Naturally by Janet Balaskas
Blue Nights by Joan Didion
Timbuktu: A Novel by Paul Auster
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
The Landmark Thucydides
Anything by Maggie O’Farrell

What's on your reading list?

Friday, June 8, 2012

40 Years at Play : PTC’s Past and Present

Another glimpse at the PTC Archives : As I have been describing and digitizing some of the thousands of items in the PTC archives, I have come across quite few photographs and other objects that are bound to spark interest. Many of these are especially interesting to those who recognize the people and events in the images but there are definitely photos and objects that would appeal to even the newest theatre-goer/lover.

This week I had the pleasure of pulling a real treasure out of the archives – one that I hear was not truly appreciated when it was first introduced to the world! Along with programs for Some Starless Night by David John Smith, I found a couple of copies of an advertisement for the board game BOX OFFICE. It appears that the mid-80’s Vancouver theatre community briefly had the enviable opportunity to purchase “BOX OFFICETM …  an exciting new board game based on producing theatre shows. Challenging and fun for all ages” for the modest price of $19.95! I particularly enjoy the fireplace, tablecloth, and glasses of champagne – who knew playing BOX OFFICE could be so romantic? Also, who could withstand those testimonials!

If you happen to have a copy of this splendid, theatre-filled board game and are willing to dust it off for our 40 Years at Play event at PAL on June 26th, please let us know.

On a slightly different note, I also found this charming young man, ca. 1980’s?

Who is he??

Save the date!
On Tuesday, June 26th 2012, PTC invites you to join us for an evening of celebration and fun as we unveil photos from our archive.

40 Years at Play  
Tuesday, June 26th 2012 7:00 – 10:00pm
PAL Studio Theatre, 581 Cardero Street, Vancouver

Friday, June 1, 2012

40 Years at Play - PTC's Past and Present

An organization can accumulate a lot of stuff over the course of 40 years. If this ‘stuff’ happens to be a pile of old furniture and peeling binders this may not be something to celebrate! On the other hand, if you are lucky enough to have an archive, all of that accumulated ‘stuff’ can remind you of who you are and what you have done to get where you are today. All of those old documents, photographs, videos, and yes, floppy disks, can provide a sense of history and a source of ideas and inspiration that can’t be found anywhere else.

As the PTC’s newest intern, I am thrilled to have the chance to delve into the world of theatre, past and present. In anticipation of the PTC’s 40th anniversary, I am searching through the archives in order to gain a sense of the history and people who have contributed to the PTC over the last 40 years. During the next month I will continue to post updates on some of the more unexpected or interesting things that I find within the archives and on Tuesday June 26th I, along with the wonderful staff and volunteers here at the PTC, will showcase some of the hundreds of photographs from the PTC archives at the PAL Studio Theatre. The 40 Years at Play naming event is a chance for the Vancouver theatre community to come together, reminisce, celebrate Canadian theatre, and help us to identify the people, productions, and events featured in our photographs.

To begin, I thought that I would pay homage to previous retrospectives by showcasing the invitations and pamphlets created to celebrate (and memorialize) The New Play Centre. In 1995 The New Play Centre joined with the Betty Lambert Society to form the Playwrights Theatre Centre and this transformation sparked a rather unique gala event, The New Play Centre (1979 – 1995): A Retrospective, complete with obituary, wake, and eulogies for the then newly departed NPC. As the obituary shows, even then the Playwrights Theatre Centre had a substantial community of playwrights and members; imagine where the PTC is today, 17 years later. 

Save the date!

On Tuesday, June 26th 2012, PTC invites you to join us for an evening of celebration and fun. We will be unveiling photos from our archives and asking you to help us name who’s who. More information will be posted soon on our website!

40 Years at Play 
Tuesday, June 26th 2012 7:00– 10:00pm
PAL Studio Theatre, 581 Cardero Street, Vancouver


Helen Brown 
Archive Project Coordinator at PTC
Helen Brown is currently working on completing her degrees in library and information studies and archival studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. In other words,  she is a librarian and archivist in the making, with a passion for literature, the arts, public service, and promoting and providing local events that foster community and creativity. Helen is thrilled to have the chance to explore the history of the PTC and its role in supporting Canadian theatre. She has previously worked as a student archivist at Library and Archives Canada, as a student librarian at UBC’s Woodward Life Sciences Library, and as a library volunteer at UBC’s Rare Books and Special Collections and the Vancouver Aquarium. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

PTC announces new leadership!

Playwrights Theatre Centre today announced that, effective December 1, 2012, Heidi Taylor will assume leadership as the Artistic and Executive Director. Martin Kinch, who has led the organization for over 10 years as Executive Director and Literary Manager, is stepping down to focus on freelance writing and directing and to continue his teaching at the University of British Columbia.

As of March 1, Heidi became the Incoming Artistic and Executive Director, and will assume full executive responsibilities in December of this year. Heidi has been the Dramaturg at PTC since 2005. Since joining PTC, she has dramaturged over 40 plays by writers including Jan Derbyshire, Dave Deveau, Joan Kivanda, Hannah Moscovitch, Anita Majumdar, Jason Maghanoy, Tanya Marquardt, and Kendra Fanconi, Recent credits include Sea of Sand, which she co-directed with playwright Eric Rhys Miller, Transmission (co-directed with Tanya Marquardt), and Cloudless (José Teodoro/BC Buds). Heidi teaches acting at Simon Fraser University, and is a co-founder of Proximity Arts, a cross-disciplinary company whose work ranges from interactive sound installation to outdoor-sited dance to chamber opera.

“On behalf of the entire board, I am delighted to announce Heidi Taylor’s appointment,” said Board Chair Jennifer Moore. “Heidi brings to the position an intimate familiarity with both PTC and the Canadian theatre ecology as a whole. Her strong focus on innovation and experimental work will serve PTC well as we move into the future. In this volatile funding climate, we are pleased to be able to make a decision that benefits both the stability of the organization and its artistic practices.”
“I also wish to thank Martin for his years of service. Under his leadership, PTC has flourished during challenging times and brought many exciting new Canadian plays to the stage,” she added.
During his decade-long tenure as Executive Director/Literary Manager, Martin changed the face of PTC, initiating vital programs like the Dramaturgical Reading Program, the News and Flying Start. He has presided over the creation of the PTC Playwrights Colony and the new Associates residency program. He led PTC in its collaboration with a variety of British Columbia Theatre companies and served as dramaturg to a significant group of playwrights, among them: Dennis Bolen, Tim Carlson, Camyar Chai, Tom Cone, Dorothy Dittrich, C. E. Gatchalian, Nicola Harwood, Sherry MacDonald, Mitch Miyagawa, Sheldon Rosen, Sally Stubbs, James Fagan Tait, José Teodoro, Andrew Templeton, Charles Tidler, Bryan Wade, Ian Weir and Marcus Youssef. Most recently, he completed a three-year collaboration with Adrienne Wong as dramaturg, director and writer of the PodPlays project.

In the spring, PTC will initiate a national search for a Dramaturg to join the creative team in fall 2012 to work with both Martin and Heidi. The transition will complete during PTC’s October Writers’ Colony. As Heidi plans for the 2012-13 season, she will continue to provide creative and professional support to PTC’s Associates; six playwrights who are currently 18 months in to a three-year play development process.
PTC is a dramaturgically focused theatre company that finds, nurtures, and advances the Canadian playwright, supporting new plays from creation to performance, administering a variety of programs that support playwrights at each stage of their careers. PTC has successfully supported over 5,000 new plays since its founding as the New Play Centre in 1973, most recently The Idiot, by James Fagan Tait; Trunk, by Jeremy Waller and Falling in Time, by C.E. Gatchalian.

While numbers tell a part of the story, playwright Lucia Frangione captured the essence of the organization. “PTC's Writer's Colony was one of the most valuable experiences I've had in my 25 years in the business... The calibre of dramaturgy was top notch. I was able to crack open some large questions about my play and my process. The feedback was guided and useful and far more in-depth than customary dramaturgical processes I've had... One of the most educational aspects of the colony was watching the three other wildly different writers in process and talking with them about their work: how they survive; what theatre is like in their province. This colony connected me to the country. I feel this colony is vital to the health and development of Canadian Theatre.”

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mapping the Making 2

Poet and Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz says that poetry "takes you from silence to silence […]. It is what happens between the words that matters." In theatre, the artists work so that the silence after the curtain closes is more alive than the silence when the lights went down. But what of the silence of a writer and a blank page? How do we get from the seed of a new idea to dynamic performance? Tim Carlson and Jeremy Waller have shared some insights on what leads them forward in their writing.

Jeremy Waller
Jeremy Waller is a writer and director, and Artistic Director of Craning Neck Theatre. He also freelances as a Sound and Set Designer, Technical Director and Production Manager. Recent directing credits include, Biographies Of The Dead And Dying (Craning Neck/Machine Fair) and the Secret Love Life Of Ophelia (ABC Productions, Montreal, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton), The Dark Between (Craning Neck Theatre), and The Absurdessy (Green Leaf Circus). Most recently, he directed Trunk at Club PuSh, co-produced by Craning Neck Theatre and Theate Conspiracy, where he is artist-in-residence. He is working on a new play Jo Speechly's Lost Decade with the support of PTC.

Jo Speechly's Lost Decade focuses on the collision between Jo Speechly, a reclusive artist; her dying mother, Elen; Jo's old friend Gwydion, who has a hidden agenda to publicize her work; and Jo's lover, Stephen, whose physical and spiritual presence permeates Jo's un-exhibited but prolific photographic oeuvre.

PTC: What music inspires you in the writing of this piece?

Jeremy: I Have to say that no particular music is currently inspiring this piece, other than the imagined sound of the play of minerals in different bodies of water. And the sound of voices on a reel to reel tape recorder.

PTC: Tell us about your main character.

Jeremy: Jo Speechly is a learned recluse in her mid-forties. She is seeking the end of an hypnotic artistic process using the documents/material of previous generations of her family. Creating in a vacuum, having turned away from the art world which once brought her relative fame, her privacy is about to be invaded by the conflicting desires of her want-to-be biographer, her over-protective mother, and a former lover.

Tim Carlson
Tim Carlson is the artistic producer of Theatre Conspiracy in Vancouver, BC. His plays include: Omniscience (Vancouver, Berlin, Magdeberg, Lisbon, Chicago; published by Talonbooks 2007); Diplomacy (Vancouver, Talonbooks 2009), Live from a Bush of Ghosts (PuSh Festival, 2009), the one-act newsroom comedies Night Desk (2001) and The Chronicle has Hart (2000) — and a full-length comedy A Liar’s Guide to Non-fiction (Vancouver Playhouse reading, 2010). As a dramaturg he is collaborating with Berlin-based Rimini Protokol1 on Best Before (PuSh Festival / Cultch 2010, touring to 15 Canadian, U.S. and European cities 2010). As co-curator and co-producer he collaborated with the PuSh Festival in creating the inaugural Club PuSh series in 2009. He is creating a new work, Extraction, with Theatre Conspiracy, while continuing development of Nine Tenths with the support of PTC.

Tim Carlson's Nine Tenths has received two PTC workshops to date. Tim is engaged in rewrites over the winter and will return to the workshop table in May. Nine Tenths follows the development of a play, also titled Nine Tenths. Early drafts followed the interpersonal relationships of the playwrights, director and two actors over 3 months. How and why we stay in relationships - should we settle for the nine-tenths that work, or keep searching for the missing one-tenth? - formed the core question both inside and outside the rehearsal hall. Tim has developed the piece further while not on duty at Club PuSh, and it has now become a two-hander.

PTC: What music inspires you in the writing of this piece?

Tim: I turned up the volume on my recent playlist this morning and thought about the songs that might be working on me indirectly. Imagine a mashup of:
Luna's Tiger Lily Girl ("sweet obscenity / bring her back to me / lost in her perfume / think I'm going to sue") Here's Luna playing it at Zulu Records in Vancouver in 2009

Bob Dylan's Love Sick (I see lovers in the meadow / I see silhouettes in the window / I watch them til they're gone and they leave me hanging on / to a shadow" )

Tom Waits' Kiss Me ("I won't believe that our love's a mystery / I won't believe our love's a sin / I want you to kiss me like a stranger once again)

PTC: Tell us briefly about your main character.

Tim: There are two. Nine Tenths is an even-handed two-hander. We follow an Actor and an Actress from the first day of rehearsal through to opening night, developing their roles in a relationship play titled Nine Tenths. We see only one scene from the play, a breakup scene, as it morphs through the rehearsal process, influenced by the past of the Actor and Actress as well as the personal and professional chemistry that builds between them. One of them is desperate for solitude and disconnection; the other hungry for intimacy and sexual connection.

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for more updates from our Associates as they delve deeper into their creative process.
Emily Kedar, Dramaturgical Intern

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mapping the Making

Through our Associates program we are currently supporting six talented playwrights over three years, helping bring their ideas forward into workshops, readings and production talks. As we shift into our second year of the program, we invite you to learn more about what they are creating and what we are doing to help make it happen. Over the next six weeks you'll get a window into their creative process right here on our blog. Welcome to Mapping the Making!

Jenn Griffin
Originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Jenn Griffin has been a Vancouver based actor for over twenty years and more recently an actor/playwright. She was awarded the Sydney Risk award in 1999 for best emerging playwright in the wake of her first play Drinking with Persephone. Into the Waves, her first full-length play was read at The Hysteria Festival, Toronto, in 2005. In 2006, Jenn co-conceived with Marilyn Norry, My Mother’s Story, a theatrical collage. In 2007, Jenn was commissioned to create a piece for Fugue Theatre. In 2009, Via Beatrice, the commissioned work, received a Jessie Richardson nomination for outstanding original script.

For the associates program, Jenn has made multiple trips to the Centre for Great Apes in Florida to research her piece, The Long Call, which parallels loss of freedom in the human and animal worlds. Physical performance is a part of the development process, as the central character taps into he animal knowledge via her connection with the great apes.

PTC: Tell us briefly about your main character.

JG: The main character is named Holly Dasein (pronounced "design.") She’s a middle aged woman who has surfaced from a traumatic past and at the top of the play, she has just completed her BA. Holly's academic interests are widespread but her passion is the Great Apes and her dream is to release Orang Utans back into the wild.She's recently resumed communication with her ex-boyfriend Jack who is incarcerated. She believes that confronting Jack and unearthing their shared past will be the key to her own freedom. Holly comes out of my exposureto animals and humans alike who have survived great trauma. I am interested in examining the impact of captivity on both the human and animal soul.

PTC: Tell us about what kind of music inspires you and influences your writing of this piece.

JG: Gamelan is my main inspiration for The Long Call. Many songs have popped into my head during the time I have been considering the piece and they are all part of the world of the play too. Along with Gamelan, there’s also music strippers dance to and music from the radio that underscores a relationship in the 80's. Also, more recent music you might hear anywhere in North America. Like the song "Tom" by Natalie Imbruglia.

Jordan Hall
Jordan is an emerging artist whose work has been dubbed “stellar, insightful” by PlankMagazine, “thoughtful” by CBC Radio, and “vivid, memorable” by NOW. Her writing for the stage includes her short works Red, The Second Last Man on Earth, Asleep at the Wheel, and The Possible Lives of Dolores Garcia Rodriguez, as well as her full-length play, Kayak, which recently won Samuel French’s 2010 Canadian Playwright’s competition.

Jordan’s plays have been produced across the country, most recently at the 2011 Vancouver Fringe and 2010 Summerworks Festival. She is developing her newest work, Travelling Light, as an Associate with the Playwrights Theatre Centre. Her first short film, Love Sucks, recently screened at the Bell Lightbox in Toronto, and her second, Run Dry, will be screening at VWIFF 2012 this March. As a dramaturg, Jordan recently worked on the Dora-nominated Belle of Winnipeg with Keystone Theatre, sits on the Board of Foundry Theatre, and is a mentor for UBC’s Booming Ground program.

For the Associates Program, Jordan has researched particle physics and representations of science in the media for her mystery-drama Travelling Light, in which the disappearance of a brilliant physicist triggers ethical and metaphysical searches for the central character.

PTC: Tell us briefly about your main character.

JH: The three central characters in Travelling Light came into existence together, as a system. I knew there was a scientist who was missing (David), and that his research partner (Cameron) was searching for him, and that she would enlist the help of a former friend of the scientist who had left pure science to become a public figure (Julian). The tension in the triangle was coming from the countervailing pulls in these characters' attitudes: the arrogance of David's genius, the faith that Cameron has in David that is both profound but potentially blinding, and Julian's more populist, but very commercial opinions.

PTC: Tell us about what kind of music inspires you and influences your writing of this piece.

JH: I hate picking just one! I've got a Travelling Light playlist that I listen to as I write. There's a lot of Kate Bush (Pi, Running Up That Hill), and The Stills (Everything I Build), and the James Newton Howard soundtrack for The Village, with all that haunting violin.

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for updates from our other four Associates.
- Emily, Dramaturgical Intern @ PTC