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I Read Plays

I Read Plays

A cross-Canada tour featuring 13 Canadian theatre companies

By Jessica Lewis Date: July 24, 2020 Tags: Lists and recommendations

If you’re missing theatre, try reading a play! We’re taking you on tour across Canada with reading recommendations and pandemic plans from theatre artists from each province and territory!

The tour will originate on Instagram but will be updated here each day. Join in with your own theatre reads by using the tag #IReadPlays on social media and commenting below!

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Tuesday, July 28: Northwest Territories

Reneltta Arluk reads Burning Vision while holding her child.

Welcome to the first day of our #IReadPlays tour in which we ask theatre artists from each province and territory in Canada what they’re reading and working on these days!

Representing Northwest Territories is Reneltta Arluk from Akpik Theatre! Here’s their #IReadPlays dispatch:

“I love Burning Vision by Marie Clements (published by Talonbooks). No matter how many times I have read Marie’s play, the richness of imagery and text continue to provoke. Reading plays is apt right now, we get the best seat in the house, become an audience member in our own theatre and experience the story in our imagination. Plus, you can eat all the crinkly candies you want in peace. 

Akpik Theatre had to postpone the community telling of Pawâkan Macbeth planned for six communities in the Northwest Territories with the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, but you can watch a reading of it on NAC #CanadaPerforms here.”

 

Wednesday, July 29: Nunavut

A hand holds a tablet showing the cover of Mustard in front of a snowy background.

Representing Nunavut today is Jessie Hale from Iqaluit Community Theatre! Here’s their #IReadPlays dispatch:

“From still-snowy Iqaluit, I'm reading Mustard by Kat Sandler. This twisted, kooky play is all about holding on to childhood memories in scary times—perfect for our current reality. Reading plays helps remind us that one day not too long from now, we'll gather together to share the magical experience of live performance.

Iqaluit Community Theatre is welcoming its new board of directors after our recent Annual General Meeting and starting to plan our 2020-21 season!”

 

Thursday, July 30: Newfoundland & Labrador

Two copies of Infinity are positioned against mirrors giving off an infinite reflection

Representing Newfoundland & Labrador today is Robert Chafe from Artistic Fraud in St. John’s! Here’s their #IReadPlays dispatch:

“I’m reading Hannah Moscovitch's beautiful Infinity. I love Hannah's incredible ability to craft dialogue and stories that operate on this wholly accessible level but that bubble underneath, layered with complex questions and investigations. A kind of writing I admire so much and to which I aspire to, which she executes time and time again, seemingly effortlessly. 

I have always been a big reader of plays. I live on an island and the vast majority of important plays in the Canadian (and world) canon are works that I don't get to see in performance. So I have always read as a way to keep myself connected to these plays and these artists, and what's happening in the world artistically beyond my shores. It seems we are all in this place right now: our own little islands of solitude; craving that connection with what is happening out there. 

My company Artistic Fraud cancelled the remainder of our tour of Between Breaths, and we are looking at ways to reschedule in the future. We've also had to cancel the premiere of my new show Everybody Just Calm the Fuck Down. I'm doing my best to view this all as a gift of time in which to focus fully in development (project and personal). We may share some of that development process online, we'll see.” 

 

Friday, July 31: Prince Edward Island

A copy of Real Estate lies on a table beneath a mug and next to flowers

Representing Prince Edward Island today is Emily Smith from Victoria Playhouse! Here’s their #IReadPlays dispatch:

“It was hard to choose just one Canadian play! We produced Real Estate in 2019 under the dynamic direction of Charlotte Gowdy. Funny coincidence: it was only after deciding to produce Real Estate that we learned that playwright Allana Harkin had spent her honeymoon in our little village of Victoria by the Sea, PEI! Real Estate is a great read any time, but particularly now when we need a little humour in our lives.

At Victoria Playhouse, we’re using this ‘fallow time’ to regroup, tackle all kinds of jobs we never seem to have the time for under ordinary circumstances, and of course, read lots of plays! We know that arts and culture will be back, stronger than ever, once we’ve overcome this crisis!”

 

Saturday, August 1: Nova Scotia

Richie Wilcox holds up a copy of Here Lies Henry

Representing Nova Scotia today is Richie Wilcox from Ship’s Company Theatre in Parrsboro! Here’s their #IReadPlays dispatch:

“I love reading MacIvor's plays. I studied his work for a long time and even edited a book of essays on him for Playwrights Canada Press. He constantly finds creative and theatrical ways to shed light on death. I find the ruminations comforting and help to make the present all the more potent. 

Reading is a perfect activity to do when you are given solitude and time. And since we can't gather in theatres presently, reading plays is one way you can give yourself a taste of what you are missing right now. 
Ship's Company Theatre debuted its Shipwright Sessions this summer. This free livestream series features playwrights sharing an excerpt from their work and a mini-interview with me about their process. The next one is on August 7: Mind the Light by Gabrielle Papillon.

 

Sunday, August 2: New Brunswick

A copy of Pugwash sits on a table

Representing New Brunswick today is Natasha MacLellan from Theatre New Brunswick in Fredericton! Here’s their #IReadPlays dispatch:

“I love Pugwash by Vern Thiessen! And I loved directing its world premiere at Ship’s Company Theatre. Working on world premieres is a gift—an opportunity to really contribute to the making of something. The company was top-notch, we really enjoyed working together. And the audience loved it! It nearly sold out the entire run, probably because Pugwash is also in Cumberland County, as is Parrsboro (where Ship’s is). I was honoured to be a part of it. Reading it again reminds me of what an incredible corner of Canadian history the Pugwash Peace Conferences are, and also what a special experience working on that play was.

I think now is a great opportunity to read Canadian plays (since we can't see them)!
Theatre New Brunswick is currently figuring out how to proceed in the new reality. And we all look forward to making plays again.”

 

Monday, August 3: Quebec

A copy of The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God sits on Quincy Armorer's lap on a pier looking out onto a lake

Representing Quebec today is Quincy Armorer from Black Theatre Workshop in Montreal! Here’s their #IReadPlays dispatch:

“I love The Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God by Djanet Sears because it tells a story that helps to broaden the perspective of what it means to be Canadian. Reading plays right now is important because it keeps us connected to our love of storytelling and it will feed our creativity for when we can finally gather again at the theatre.

Black Theatre Workshop is currently preparing to announce its 50th Anniversary Season, celebrating a half century of bring stories from the Black communities to Canadian audiences!”

 

Tuesday, August 4: Ontario

Natasha Mumba holds a copy of Up the Garden Path... up while sitting on a couch

Representing Ontario today is Natasha Mumba from Factory Theatre in Toronto! Here’s their #IReadPlays dispatch:

“Lisa Codrington's The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God was one of the first Canadian plays I had the pleasure of being in, early in my career. It’s a play I love to re-read because as a fresh theatre graduate, I don't think I fully understood the gravity of what Lisa was exploring at the time, and specifically what message she was sending to the Shaw Festival (where the play was commissioned and produced). This fast-paced, intelligent comedy successfully challenged the very institution that produced it—every time I revisit it, I am amazed and encouraged by Lisa's tenacity and boldness. It is certainly worth a read, especially in this topical climate. 

Factory Theatre is currently riding the wave of these uncertain times with the hope of sharing our upcoming plans with the public in the near future. However, in the meanwhile, we are and will continue producing more of our curbside pick-up plays—streamed online monthly. To stay updated follow us @factorytheatre.”

 

Wednesday, August 5: Manitoba

Thomas Morgan Jones holds a copy of Stories from the Raines of Love and Death

Representing Manitoba today is Thomas Morgan Jones from Prairie Theatre Exchange in Winnipeg! Here’s their #IReadPlays dispatch:

“My choice is an anthology, Stories from the Rains of Love and Death: Four Plays from Iran. Every time I read each of these plays, it's like reading them for the first time. Each time I read them, I hear the voices, but I also see pictures, feel images, and find my imagination coming to life with possibilities. They are astonishing stories, at the same time mythic and contemporary no matter where or when they're each set. Each of them seems an invitation to collaborators...every time I read them, I want to play. And every time I read them, I feel the power of story to help me look at and understand something about the world. Reading them again this week was inspiring and sobering amidst the time we're living in now.

Next season at PTE we will have world premieres by Yvette Nolan and Hannah Moscovitch, and Ismaila Alfa. You can check out the details here: www.pte.mb.ca

 

Thursday, August 6: Saskatchewan

Angus Ferguson holds a copy of The Selkie Wife in front of his face

Representing Saskatchewan today is Angus Ferguson from Dancing Sky Theatre in Meacham! Here’s their #IReadPlays dispatch:

The Selkie Wife by Kelley Jo Burke (published by Scirocco Drama) is one of my favourite plays. It’s mythical, magical, and grittily real all at the same time. There are many stories about falling in love, but this is one of those rare stories about staying in love. 

In a world that seems to be overflowing with facts and digital information, plays let you contemplate the grey areas and complexities that really make up our lives.

In these crazy turbulent times, Dancing Sky Theatre is continuing to develop new work, as well as exploring new ways that we can safely gather together to communally experience the magic of storytelling."

 

Friday, August 7: Alberta

A copy of Age of Minority sits on a table on a patio next to a mug

Representing Alberta today is Mieko Ouchi from Concrete Theatre in Edmonton! Here’s their #IReadPlays dispatch:

“While working from home, we’re getting some fresh air and a chance to read a great play by a wonderful Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill, rihannaboi95. This feels like a critical play to read, given that here at Concrete, we are thinking of ways we can connect with young people online… and Jordan is such a brilliant and thoughtful voice for the experiences of young people.

During this unprecedented time which sees our beloved art form as one of the first to close and potentially one of the last to open, reading plays feels more important than ever.

Here at Concrete, in pre-COVID times, we set up Pop Up Theatre Book Tables at theatre events across Alberta, to help subsidize our educational performances for high needs schools. So… if you can, check our website, buy a play and give twice! We do curbside pickup and delivery in YEG and YYC!”

 

Saturday, August 8: British Columbia

An illustrated version of Corey Payette sitting on a beanbag reading Burning Vision

Representing Unceded Coast Salish Territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples for #IReadPlays today is Corey Payette from Urban Ink in Vancouver! Here’s their #IReadPlays dispatch:

“I’m reading Marie Clements’s Burning Vision (published by Talonbooks) because it is such a beautiful and poetic script. It was one of the first big productions Urban Ink produced in 2001.

The Urban Ink 2020-21 season is currently on hold, but we are planning ways to still celebrate our 20th anniversary digitally.”

 

Sunday, August 9: Yukon

A copy of Two-Spirit Acts sits on a windowsill.

Well, today’s the last stop on our virtual Canadian tour! Thank you for joining us! We hope you enjoyed and discovered some new books to read. Reading plays right now is a great escape and a way to support theatre in this time – share what you’re reading with us by posting a picture of your fave published plays and tag it #IReadPlays!

Representing Yukon today is Colin Wolf from Gwaandak Theatre in Whitehorse! Here’s their #IReadPlays dispatch:

“I am re-reading Two-Spirit Acts: an Anthology of Queer Indigenous Performance featuring Muriel Miguel and Waawaate Fobister. Given the ongoing violence Indigenous folx experience, and the continued loss of our young 2spirit and queer Indigenous folx, I am taking time to explore those before me who have created the conditions for their self-expression. How do I work to create conditions in our theatre-making to facilitate the sharing of our stories when so many of our young folx are disenfranchised, in crisis, and living through the ongoing effects of colonial genocide? As it was before the great pause, reading plays by BIPoC, 2SLBGQT+, and excluded folx is deeply important to the continued growth of our theatre making—in particular as we are insulated into our friend groups and families—often folx who match many of our identities.

Gwaandak Theatre is creating a new production of There is Violence, and There is Righteous Violence, and There is Death by Caleigh Crow. This will be an episodic retelling of the story over three weeks, with micro live audiences and digital access to select showings for rural folx in the Yukon, and for Canadians wanting to tune in. Caleigh Crow Says: ‘this play is for anyone who has ever had a boss, or a boyfriend.’ Follow our FB page or on Instagram @GwaandakTheatre to keep up on how to watch.”

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