Hurrah for The Paradise Arms, which just won the annual national playwriting competition held by safeword theatre! Thanks again to Eric Benson and his cast, who read this script at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto on June 1 as part of the public showcase for the four finalists... clearly you hit it out of the park! Thank you, Brandon Crone and SafeWords Theatre. Thanks to the Glassco Residency and the Cole Foundation for supporting our translation, and to Bobby Theodore for dramaturging it. Thanks to Richard Wolfe and Pi Theatre for commissioning and holding the first reading. Et merci, Olivier, mon auteur, mon ami, de ta collaboration précieuse. Now, who wants to snap up this beautiful piece for its English-language premiere?!
Congratulations to Rébecca Déraspe and Théâtre le Clou on Je suis William being chosen as the "Coup de coeur [favourite]" by the youth jury of the TYA festival Les Coups de Théâtre! I look forward to working with you on the English version, I Am WIlliam, in the fall of this year. And thanks times a million to Emma Tibaldo and Playwrights Workshop Montreal for holding an extremely helpful workshop of the play while I was in Montreal in May. The cast was superb, and we learned so much about the rhythms and tone of the piece in English. Thank you, Kym Dominique-Ferguson, Patrick Keeler, and Sarah Segal-Lazar for your commitment and generosity. You had to cold-read everything from rap to Britpop to iambic pentameter, and you did it with heart and panache.
Also, good luck to director Eric Benson and his cast, who will be presenting a reading of The Paradise Arms [my translation of Olivier Sylvestre's La beauté du monde] this Friday June 1 at the Tarragon Theatre. Olivier is in France and I am here in Vancouver, but we are both honoured and excited to be among 4 finalists in the nation-wide "Safe Words" competition held by Safewords Theatre. Merde, and go, team!
The highlights in brief:
• I am now the Playwright-in-Residence at the Gateway Theatre, thanks to the generous support of the Arts Council of the City of Richmond.
• I also began my three-year commitment to the Playwrights Theatre Centre's Associates programme... or more accurately, we all began our three-year commitment to each other. I am already at work on the initial research for our project, Salesman in China, with my co-writer Jovanni Sy and our extremely generous dramaturg Kathleen Flaherty. This has so far included a lightning-fast trip to Boston, an upcoming one to Toronto, and a June trip to Beijing... all of which I will be blogging about when I get back in July.
• Pi Theatre had a jam-packed and enthusiastically-received reading of The Paradise Arms (my translation of Olivier Sylvestre's Governor-General's Award-nominated play, La Beauté du monde), which was developed with the help of Playwrights Workshop Montreal's Glassco Translation Residency in Tadoussac.
• Schoolhouse continues to be a favourite with schools and theatres across Canada, having racked up dozens of productions since 2006. I love it that so many young people are tackling this challenging story, and was delighted to learn that Edmonton's MCS Theatre was nominated for 14 Cappie Awards for their recent production. I wish them all the luck at the ceremony on June 11.
* The cast of Théâtre la Seizième's Bonjour, là, Bonjour has been nominated for a Jessie Award (for Best Ensemble) as has our director Gilles Poulin-Denis. My director Sarah Rodgers and cast-mate Sarah May Redmond were also nominated, for And Bella Sang With Us. The Jessies, which honour the best of Vancouver theatre, will be handed out on June 26.
One final note about The Paradise Arms. It was my great joy to introduce Olivier, as well as his work, to Vancouver this month (and I'm so happy that they really seemed to really hit it off!) Olivier's original title, La Beauté du monde, literally translates as "the beauty of the world", a French expression immortalized in a Diane Dufresne song that warns the human race not to destroy it. In Olivier's autobiographical yet highly theatrical story, the title is both ironic and aspirational: imagine a modern young man's journal of existential crisis thrown in a Vitamix with the works of Arcade Fire, Rimbaud, and the Coen Brothers. In this play, we are imprisoned with the hero – also named Olivier – in a strange, dark basement, groping uncertainly towards the light. That resonates deeply with me right now... as does Olivier's eventual embrace of life and the possibility of love, in defiance of all that frightens and divides us.