Judith Thompson: actor

Judith Thompson, Watching Glory Die, the Cultch, Vancouver theatre

Judith Thompson quit acting in 1980 because “I didn’t want to get into the game where you have to do things you don’t believe in.”

Playwright Judith Thompson hasn’t acted in decades. But she’ll perform all three roles in the premiere production of her play Watching Glory Die, when it premieres at the Cultch (April 22 to May 3).

The play is inspired by the death of 18-year-old Ashley Smith, who strangled herself to death in Ontario’s Grand Valley Institution while guards videotaped for 45 minutes. In her fictionalized take, Thompson will play a disturbed teenager, her mother, and a guard.

Performing isn’t spooking Thompson, but she’s having a few problems with the playwright. Talking to me over the phone for an interview that will run in next week’s Georgia Straight, Thompson said, “The only thing I’m afraid of—’cause I feel these characters, I feel like I know them—the only thing that scares me is memorizing my own very strangely worded play. As a playwright, I was always saying to actors, ‘No. You have to say, ‘And. Uh. Uh. Ooh.’ Just exactly like that.’ And now I’m like, ‘No! I can change it!’ My directors have to say to me, ‘Don’t change it! The writer is a better writer than the actor!”

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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