Monday, 16 January 2012

APN Member Profile: Andrea Beca

BIO:  Andrea Beça has a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Alberta and an MLitt in Playwriting and Dramaturgy from the University of Glasgow. She founded Cowardly Kiss Theatre in 2006 in order to produce her work at the Edmonton Fringe; since then, it has expanded to include independent production, and she is thrilled to be producing her first full season this year. When she is not enveloped in Cowardly Kiss Theatre, Andrea works as a freelance writer with her new company, Comma Dot Dash.  Her writing has previously been nominated for both Writers’ Guild of Alberta awards and for the national Journey Prize. In the midst of everything, Andrea spends 200% of her time with her two puppies, Oscar Wilde Beça and Lucille Ball Beça. 

Who are you?
My name's Andrea Beça. I'm the Artistic Director of Cowardly Kiss Theatre, an indie company currently based in Edmonton. I'm a playwright, director, and dramaturg. I'm also a freelance writer (through my company Comma Dot Dash) to pay the bills, so I guess I'm fully enveloped in writing! I like words!

What are you working on?
At the moment, I'm in the pre-rehearsal research-and-note-making process for Cowardly Kiss' second production in its inaugural season, which is Jean Genet's The Maids. It's a brilliant, crazy, challenging play; I'm very excited to get started with the cast and dive into the text together. I'm also sorting out final details for three shows in the 2012 Edmonton Fringe (doesn't it feel like the last one just ended?). 

What inspires you?
This is a tough question. I feel like just about anything can inspire me, if it happens to me at the right time, whether it's a piece of art or a random person walking by me on the street. I'd say generally, I'm inspired by people and landscapes. Most of my work stems from a conversation I've either taken part in or overheard. But I'm also often inspired by the feeling I get when I walk into a place, even if it's a wide-open space. I ask a lot of "Why?" - why would she say that, or why would someone come/live here? 

What is your favourite play?
I'm the worst at picking favourites. I blame the fact that I'm a Libra. But The Importance of Being Earnest is one of my very favourites. No matter how many times I've read and seen it (and trust me, that number is staggering), I never, ever get tired of it. I think a lot of people think it's very simple and funny, but there's a lot going on in that play, a lot of subversion of genre and society. The fact that you can enjoy it just for a laugh or really dig into it and find all of the different layers in it is what makes it so well written, I think.

Who is your favourite playwright?
There's no way I'm only going to list one! So instead, a few of my favourites are Oscar Wilde, Caryl Churchill, Martin McDonagh, Enda Walsh, Daniel MacIvor, Tim Crouch...

Mac or PC?
I'm pretty devoted to my Mac. I can find my way (very slowly) around a PC after nearly a decade of not using them, though I've never had anything against them. 

Do you have any writing rituals?
I used to be very particular about how I went about writing anything. I find that as time goes on, I have particular ways of writing depending on what I'm writing. I prefer, for example, to do professional, technical writing during the day, whereas my creative writing juices flow in the evening and wee hours of the morning. Oddly enough, I've also found that I increasingly prefer to write plays by hand before I type them, or at least getting started that way. It's something I never used to do, but when I was in Glasgow writing my MA thesis play, I discovered I could write pages and pages in a notebook in the middle of an insanely loud coffee shop, while I'd go blank in my quiet flat, in front of my laptop. The Internet's become a big distraction over the last five years; maybe that's why. 

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever gotten?
I'm sure that I have forgotten the best piece of writing advice I've ever gotten (oops). But there are a couple things that have always stuck with me. One of my creative writing professors in university always said that there was no such thing as writer's block, because as a writer, you should write every single day, and if you're doing that, it's impossible to be "blocked." You may have trouble figuring out where a certain piece of work is headed, but if you're always working on something, it'll eventually come to you, even if you're writing a magazine article and the thing you're struggling with is a play. I've found this to be very true in my career. In fact, when I'm feeling stuck with a play, I'll sometimes joke that I'm just going to start another one to find my way in the first. And then I usually do. And it usually works!

I was also recently in a brief workshop with Daniel MacIvor, in which he said that one of the reasons we as humans are so attracted to theatre is because it's one of the only forms of entertainment that is actually life size. At the cinema, people are blown up on a huge screen to unrealistic proportions, and on TV, they're way too small - we can't connect. But when you sit in a theatre, the people you're watching are the exact same size as you. They're present. They're real. They're confronting you, whether you like it or not. Now, I'm not sure that's writing advice, per se, but it certainly made an impact on me and has already had an effect on how I approach my work. So there you go - thanks, Daniel MacIvor! 

Interested in being profiled? Don't hesitate to email us and let us know! We want to get to know you. 

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