You have TWO chances to catch our short film Nowhere Normal in the next few weeks!
First will be right here! Watch all of Take a Bite Productions’ short films online, starting at 2 pm on May 28. Zoom link will be available this Friday, May 26.
Second, Nowhere Normal will be part of NextFest 2023 at the Roxy Theatre! Check the film schedule!
My play Body Language was done there, during NextFest, in 2000.
It was directed by Amy DeFelice, who has since been nominated for five Sterling Awards, and directed Take a Bite for me. In it were Aaron Talbot, who’s now the Communications Coordinator at Theatre Alberta. And Shannon Blanchett, who’s in New York City this minute. And Adam Blocka, my stage manager for The Ugly Princess right now! People were posting about the loss of this theatre from New Brunswick, Montreal, and Australia.
I went to see what was left last night. To see that it was real.
There was an elegant lady in smashing, long coat standing there, also looking at what was left. She said she’d been a season-ticket-holder for years, and that she had a ticket for Cheerleader!, the show that was meant to begin that night. I told her I’d had a show done there once.
Before she left, she squeezed my arm and said “I’m so sorry.”
This past week, a very young Edmonton actor, Adam Cope, died. A memorial is being held for him on Tuesday.
I first saw him play King Mark, the husband of Isolde, in a brand new production of Tristan and Isolde in March this year, at the Serca Festival of Irish Theatre. He was a fairly big, imposing guy, with ginger hair, and when he discovered Isolde was cheating on him–he got mad. Towards the end, when Isolde told Mark she had to leave to find Tristan, he had a great line: “Tristan? Tristan-who-almost-ruined-our-marriage-THAT Tristan?” The whole show was very good. And I remember thinking then “Wow. He’s really good.”
Just last month, I saw him again in Punctuate! Theatre’s clown show, Vice Re-Versa.
— Heather Morrow (@theatrejunkiehm) June 17, 2013
And that’s it. I can’t presume to say I knew him. I only saw him onstage twice, he was terrific, and I’ll never get to see him be terrific again. So, so sad.
Yeah. A two parter. After dwelling on this for a while, I think this issue is too big to swallow in one go.
I’ve said before that I don’t personally know anyone making their living solely in theatre…and yet, by all the measurements of anyone outside of theatre, they should be. If you get a professional production — not at a festival, but in a theatre — if you’ve won awards, if your plays have been published, then you’re obviously doing really well for yourself, right? I cringe when I hear people say that.
Fact: almost no playwright, even one who gets regular productions, recognition or publication, earns enough to live on just by writing. I think most people would agree, that STINKS. I want to tell people who say this, and genuinely believe it, that Take a Bite took me five years to write. It’s been said that the audience doesn’t care how long it took you to write something — nor should they. I’ve also written a play over a weekend which was picked for NextFest in 2000. I was pondering Marathon/Sprint for months beforehand, but when it finally came out, that first draft took 10 days. You can never tell how long it’s going to take, and if you don’t have a producer giving you a deadline, you have to set your own — which inevitably gets pushed back because you also have a job. The personal return on investment in writing a play — if you look at it that way — is near zero. Or you could look at writing a play from scratch as a jumping off point. Unfortunately, I’m still looking for that “jumping off point” : it galls me to admit that nothing I’ve ever written has resulted in further work. I write a show, either nothing happens with it at all, or I produce it myself, and then I have to try writing something else.
One might speculate: “well, the reason you’re not getting paid for your work is because you’re not very good.” (Not true.) Years ago…so long ago that the artistic director has long since left and the theatre has changed its name…I got a very nice rejection letter, for a play which I’d received a grant to write, and which had been workshopped with an established director and actors. It was really, really good, and this letter said so. The AD had quite clearly read the script thoroughly, and loved it. And the letter ended with an assurance that if ever they could produce it in future, they certainly would. So. Why didn’t they?
Why don’t even apparently successful writers make enough to just write? How come so few writers even make it that far if they ARE good?
For one thing, there’s always far too little money to start with. Arts funding is the first thing to be cut when governments tighten their budgets, because it’s not something we obviously need to live. So theatres only have so much money to pay anyone who keeps the building running, let alone the artists who will actually put the show on…or write it. Theatres have to be very, very choosy in what they do. There have been some genuinely fantastic new plays done in Edmonton the last few years…and because I’m playwright, and know the playwrights myself, I know those scripts took years to get that good. Because that’s how long a great play takes. And then a theatre needs to have the time and money to do that great play. Alberta is certainly better off than a lot of places, but there’s still only so much sponsorship people can offer. And there’s only so much you can charge for tickets — otherwise audiences will say “I can stay warm at home and watch YouTube.”
And THAT is where we all need to take a break before part 2…