Archives for February 2012

Power Power

When I sent out my theatre pick yesterday, I FORGOT that Chelsea Hotel is still playing till March 3. My apologies to both Leonard Cohen. whose songs are the basis of the script, and Tracey Power, the powerhouse behind this remarkable production. The material is, of course, beautiful, and the cast is fantastic. Chelsea Hotel is an all-round great time.

Silicone Diaries

I was nervous about interviewing Nina Arsenault about her solo show, Silicone Diaries; I knew I wanted to ask some tough questions—including why such a glamourous transsexual woman decided to keep her penis—and I was worried about offending her.

I needn’t have been. Arsenault is impressively fearless and intellectually honest. We got along like a house on fire. You can read the resulting interview here:

And, if you’re reading this before February 25, 2012, you still have a chance to catch Silicone Diaries at the Cultch.

Studio 58: Theatre and Compassion

Every so often, I have the privilege of addressing the students in the Studio 58 theatre program. I love these talks, partly because I love theatre and students, but also because it gives me a chance to establish a relationship with emerging artists that is both professional and human.

I show up. I reveal my biases. And they grill me about how I go about my job. It works. I often have very good working relationships with the artists that come through this program, and I’m convinced that’s largely because we’ve had a chance to get to know one another. (I’d also be more than happy to speak with students in other training programs, and I have done so on occasion, but no other institution has shown such consistent dedication to the process as Studio 58.) Of course, none of this means that I give Studio 58 students and grads preferential treatment when I review their work. But it does increase the chances that they’ll have a more meaningful context for understanding my reviews.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of taking part in one of these chats. The students were great, really engaged; they asked me tons of questions.

As I was responding to one of them, I articulated a core belief about theatre that I don’t often get to spit out: the belief that theatre is essentially a compassionate art form. Because playing a character well involves identification, one of the great lessons of acting is that everyone is doing their best. Sometimes, that best isn’t very impressive, but it’s still the best. And, for those of us in the audience, a darkened auditorium presents us with the possibility of opening our hearts to the experiences of others. In the theatre, we get to release the constricting lie of coherent identity and admit, silently, that we contain more than we let on—more chaos, but also more love.











I just got back from doing a presentation for members of CWILL BC, an organization of children’s writers and illustrators.

I spoke about the three-act template and about what I actually do once I get a manuscript in my hands.

The groups was terrific—welcoming and responsive—so we had a great old chat.

If you’re a published author of children’s material, you might want to think about joining CWILL. In the meantime, you can check out the CWILL website:


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