Archives for June 2013

Puppet perfection

Avenue Q, Arts Club, Vancouver theatre

Don’t worry about the puppet-sex warning in Avenue Q; it’s hilarious

The Arts Club’s production of Avenue Q is pretty much perfect. No kidding.

A distillation of the concerns of Gen X, Avenue Q explores the struggles of a group of young adults who are finding out they’re not as special as they’ve been brought up to believe. They search for meaning—and meaningful relationships—but they do so fully equipped with irony.

That irony extends to the form itself: the characters are all neighbours in one of New York’s seamier ‘hoods—and, as on Sesame Street, some are humans and some are puppets. Rather than spouting reassuring life lessons, however, this bunch sings songs that include “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” and “The Internet Is for Porn.” [Read more…]

The heart of Hamlet

Jonathon Young, Hamlet, Bard on the Beach, Vancouver, theatre

Jonathon Young, one of the best actors you’ll ever see, is playing Hamlet this summer. (David Cooper photo)

Last week, I had a fabulous chat with Jonathon Young, who’s playing Hamlet at Bard on the Beach this summer. You can read the interview in the Straight by going to

Jon and I had such a rich conversation that I want to pass along some more of what he had to say.  [Read more…]

Passive to active: let goals be your guide

passive, active, protagonist

To make a passive protagonist active, clarify her goal

As a substantive editor, one of the most common problems I run into—especially with new writers—is that of the passive protagonist.

I suspect that this is because writers are, by nature, observers. We pay close attention to the world around us. That’s great, but it’s not so great when our protagonists become passive observers, when other characters in the story take the most interesting and important actions.

Remember: your story belongs to your hero. We want to see what she’s up to. So make sure that she has a clear goal and that she actively pursues and refines it, gaining greater and greater insight into what she really needs as her story progresses.  [Read more…]

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