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“Only this, and nothing more.”

I saw Catalyst Theatre‘s show Nevermore last night. It was first created in 2008, and has been performed in Europe and at the 2010 Cultural Olympiad since then. This remount is, yes, the first time I’ve seen it. And I was still barely ready to.

I have been a fan of Edgar Allan Poe since I was 16. Emo, right? I first read The Raven in grade 11. I was in the advanced humanities courses at my high school; One of the pieces I annotated and analyzed was The Masque of the Red Death. I didn’t think much about this – he was a famous author, of course lots of people liked him, I thought. And then, once I learned more about his life, I realized I’d identified with him, just through his work.

My writing is not nearly as macabre as Poe’s. It has been noted though, that one of the characters dies in every one of my plays, usually in a…messy fashion. Those ideas come from somewhere.

The best way I have of explaining this is indirectly. A long time ago now, when Buffy the Vampire Slayer was still on, but had been for a while, a group of close friends kept telling me I would love the show and had to watch it. One day, I was at one couple’s house and everyone decided today was the day: they popped in a recorded episode of Buffy, and we all sat down to watch. Unfortunately, the episode my close friends had chosen was the one where Buffy’s mother died. I bolted from the room and locked myself in the bathroom, willing myself not to throw up. A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door, and when I got it open, my one friend shamefacedly said we could watch something else. Joss Whedon, that mad genius, got it right. TOO right.

If you’re a fan of Poe, you’ll know his life was one tragedy after another. One would wonder how he remained functional, and the answer would be he didn’t – that’s why he was alcoholic. He was a gifted writer with a huge imagination, and like all children, he imagined monstrous things. But he witnessed his mother die when he was 8…the first he’d see of many. His monsters were real. Nevermore so perfectly made Edgar’s thoughts visual, right in front of me, that when I wasn’t gasping I was crying.

It’s not always a good idea to entangle an author’s life with what they write, but Poe’s work is fascinating, and his own story too clearly shows where that work came from. Some people are so strong that they can genuinely take anything and remain standing. Poe wasn’t one of those. And that makes this writer feel relieved on those days I can’t stand up.

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A public service announcement to all men who hate women

I saw these on Twitter today:

Ahem. To all of men out there who agree with this point of view and argue it’s your free-speech right to say so…this geek girl exercises her free speech to give the following examples of men who disagree with you:

Joss Whedon thinks you’re wrong.

Tom Hiddleston thinks you’re wrong.


SIR Patrick Stewart

, Captain Picard, thinks you’re really, REALLY wrong.

Since THESE men don’t think women are stupid slaves who need to shut up, it will be a Canadian winter’s day in hell before I ever believe YOU.

Thank you.

ps Love to Toronto and Lac Mégantic. Stupid world.

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How much is too much?

So. It seems we are all, consistently, every day, being spied upon. By posting this, I’m exposing my nefarious interest in writing, theatre, and all things artsy. By reading this, you are exposing your interest in said topics. But…we all knew this. NO social media platform is supplying us with tools to use the internet out of charity — every piece of information about you (“Tried honeybush tea today. Didn’t like it”) is valuable to someone out there (cue the web-ad for $12 rooibos instead!).

I’m on the communications committee of Alberta Playwrights Network. One of the goals is to get the word out more, better, and further, about what we do, and what our members — playwrights — do. I use every means I can to promote myself, and particularly my work. I’m on this very blogging site, and Twitter, FB, Pinterest, and I once had a MySpace (that one is now defunct — a bit sad). A co-worker found me on linkedin, and was a bit surprised to find my whole online profile was about performing arts; he had no idea. Now, he does.

There are so, so many advantages to using these internet means to get the word out about what I’m doing. It’s free. It’s easy. It’s instant. When you’re independently producing your own shows, and barely have a budget to put the show on, free publicity is vital. And it’s not just publicity — when a show catches fire, word of mouth genuinely works…and these days, it works not just by one person telling their friend they liked your play…they tweet about it to everyone they know. This can only be good…

Except when it’s not. Besides the fact that, deep down, we KNOW these services aren’t free (everyone wants something from you, and they will get it), social media can allow you to inflate your own ego. I had a couple of truly fascinating Twitter weeks — almost everything I said was being replied to, retweeted, “favourited”. (The highlight was me simply asking if Joss Whedon’s new version of Much Ado About Nothing was being released in Canada…and @Whedonesque instantly replied with a date. Gloriousness.) I didn’t realize how much…bigger, this was making me feel, until this past week I got yet another, real-life rejection letter, and crashed, hard. How many millions of people tweet? I am, really, in the larger world nobody. I was reminded: nobody.

My Twitter colleague and fellow playwright Gwydion Suilebhan blogged recently in part about how new technologies supplant previous ones: radio by movies, then TV, now very quickly, the digital. And overall the digital has been very good for us, I truly think so. What we need to keep remembering — what I forgot for a bit — is that it’s a TOOL. Always, we must control it, and use it to keep real life purring.