This week, we’ve invited writers from the 2014 Banff Playwrights Colony to guest blog about their experiences here. Marjorie Chan will be posting each day.
Where I am at the Moment ….
I’m at the Banff Centre. I’m the Senior-Playwright-in-Residence for the Playwright’s Colony 2014. I don’t really know what that means, particularly the ‘senior’ part. I don’t feel senior in any sense of the word. Every time I sit down at the computer, it is completely new. The blank screen is always a yawning chasm of unkkn.
At dinner the other night, another playwright was challenging the definition of ‘emerging playwright’ as used by a writer, who is quite acclaimed. I wouldn’t describe the writer in question as ‘emerging’ but I certainly can’t deny her impulse to describe herself that way.
Give or take a month, my first professional play premiered 10 years ago. In that time, I’ve had 5 major premieres and dozens of smaller projects. So, I acknowledge that ‘emerging’ is not an accurate definition, and would never describe myself as such. But if I am not ‘emerging’, then, if one follows that logic, am I ‘emerged?’ Where on earth have I ‘emerged’ to?
My main bodies of work as a writer could be grouped as either text-based plays inspired by Chinese history or libretti for chamber operas. As well, I have worked as a writer on things that have no real classification—works of non-fiction theatre, plays for cellphones, text for music, text for dance etc.
I am working on 3 different projects while here in Banff. Each one is completely different than the other, and each offer a multitude of unique challenges, which I have never faced before. It’s all new. And it’s scary.
And as you probably know, Banff is nestled among the Rocky Mountains. Have you seen these mountains? Well, when I see them, this is what goes through my head (in roughly this order):
First, various doge-like comments, such as ‘wow’, ‘so high’, ‘amaze’, ‘omg snow’.
Then my brain kicks with better vocabulary, ‘majestic’, ‘jaw-dropping’, ‘stark’, ‘impressive’
And then…and then I think…
How small am I.
I’m really small.
Theatre is small.
Theatre is not rocket surgery.
Finish the damn script.
And really, that is where I am at the moment. The majesty of the mountains reminds me of the insignificance of my scripts. In the grand scheme of things, they do not matter. However, these projects will get finished, because I want to finish them. The question of where might have I ‘emerged’? Well, I’m here, at the Banff Centre.
Marjorie Chan is a multi-disciplinary theatre artist and the artistic director of Cahoots Theatre, an intercultural theatre company based in Toronto. Her plays include China Doll, A Nanking Winter, and The Madness of the Square. At the Colony her projects include Lady Sunrise, a re-imagining of Cao Yu’s classic Chinese play Sunrise.
Photo by Jenna Rodgers.