Day One is in the books. Yesterday, Michelle Kneale and I finished taking care of all of the little details in preparation for the weekend. We then sat back and watched all of the careful planning with our partners at Theatre Alberta begin to come to fruition.
Fifty people joined us at the Engineered Air Theatre where Keri Ekberg (ED at Theatre Alberta) and I welcomed participants, students and audience members in advance of the play readings. Keri spoke about how we both missed PWI last year and the audience, who obviously missed the event, applauded loudly.
We then turned over the stage to a reading of Super 8 a new play by the boys who bring you Swallow-a-bicyle Theatre, Charles Netto and Mark Hopkins. Directed by Sage Theatre's Artistic Director, Kelly Reay, Kira Bradley and Dave Trimble read the piece beautifully finding the honesty and charm of the characters - two loners in search of connection in the motel bar of the first Super 8 Motel built in the US. I can't wait to see it staged at Lunchbox Theatre in the new year.
Elyne Quan, originally from Edmonton, read from two new works of hers in progress. Both works were filled with genuine characters going through family crises that were threatening to tear their relationships apart. The pieces were incredibly moving. I always love plays about people going through huge transitions in their lives. I was moved by the story of Richie, a young and talented boy, whose brother Leo was trying to get them both out of life of struggle, poverty and abuse. Then there was the second piece that concerned a man named Robert, who is dealing with not only the loss of his wife Claire after 30 years of marriage, but the family secrets that her death has brought to the surface.
Elyne then took questions from the audience and one of my favourite answers to a question (and I'm paraphrasing here) was regarding the ethnicity of her characters. She stated that she doesn't write with an ethnicity, hers or anyone elses in mind. She writes plays about people and only asks that when her plays are produced, that the actors reflect the diversity of the community in which they are being performed. It reminded me of an article I read years ago (hence I can't remember who the playwright was) who stated when asked "What is your new play about?" responded, "The same thing all my plays are about...people."
Now on to Day Two of PWI 2011. If Day One was any indication, it's going to be a great weekend.