4 questions with Julie Tamiko Manning on Gros Morne Playwrights’ Residency

by Harris Frost

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The 2019 Gros Morne Playwrights’ Residency in Newfoundland headed by PWM and Le Centre des Auteurs Dramatiques (CEAD) wrapped up last month. Montreal-based playwright and actor Julie Tamiko Manning was one of this year’s 7 participants.

 

PWM: How exactly were the 10 days structured?

Julie Tamiko: Most of the 10 days we pretty much had to ourselves to do whatever we wanted. Then in the evenings, we had an hour-long meeting all together with all the other playwrights. We each got the chance to either do a little reading of our what we’re working on or talk about our process during one of these meetings.

PWM: Did it feel a little strange to be with so many other playwrights while you’re working individually?

Julie Tamiko: Well, even though we weren’t in the same space all day, I think the fact that we were all there to do the same thing was kind of a uniting thing. You would ask “How’s your writing going today?” and someone would answer “Terrible!” or “It’s a good day, today!” and you would know what that meant because you’d probably gone through the exact same thing the day before.

PWM: Could you speak a little about your piece, Mizushōbai?

Julie Tamiko: It’s a commission by Tableau D’Hôte Theatre, the first play in what is to become an annual series called More Than a Footnote about Canadian figures who have been sort of lost to history, who don’t have as much written about them as other historical figures.

It’s called Mizushōbai, which literally translates from Japanese as “the water trade”, it’s a euphemistic term that means “night-time entertainment”, as in, the sex industry. It’s about the life of this woman Kiyoko Tanaka Goto who came from Japan to Canada as a picture bride in 1916, did years of manual labour, saved up her money and opened a restaurant with 3 other women where they would make and sell alcohol. Then later she bought a hotel and turned it into a brothel. In 1942, she was interned with other Japanese Canadians. After internment, I believe she pretended to be Chinese in order to go back to the West coast, because the Japanese weren’t allowed back to the coast until 1949. She opened up a few gambling clubs in Chinatown. She died in 1982.

When I started writing this play about her I was having trouble figuring out how I was going to write a biography without it being a straight biography, I didn’t want to just transcribe the oral interview I have been working from, so I started out with a lot of disjointed poetry because there’s not a whole lot of information about her. And it was kind of a struggle to figure out how to stick with the facts of her life as well as figure out the rest through me. I was surprised because I went to the residency with ten or fifteen pages and I ended up with almost a whole first draft. And I almost didn’t realize that I had written it while I was there.

PWM: During the residency, did find that your writing process was different from usual?

Julie Tamiko: It was so amazing to be able to have every day to write. I had really made sure that I cleared my schedule so that I could think about writing. I actually really surprised myself because in a day I would do anywhere between one and six hours of writing but by the end of the residency, I was surprised to see just how much I had written. I think it would have taken me about six months to do what I did in ten days at this residency.

It’s going to take a long time for me to actually finish the draft though, because I won’t have the time that I had while at the residency. I’m going to have to try to recreate that somehow.

 

Julie will perform her show The Tashme Project – co-created with Matt Miwa – at the Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa as part of the 2019 Prismatic Arts Festival in September.

Photo (Top to bottom): Royds Fuentes-Imbert, Emma Tibaldo, Robert Chafe, Paul Lefebvre, Julie Tamiko Manning, and Yolanda Bonnell

REGISTER NOW: Grant Writing Workshop for Emerging Artists

Exploring Practice with Jesse Stong

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Dates: April 16, 17, 18 2019 (3-day workshop)
Time: 6 PM-10 PM (Group sessions end at 9 PM, with optional additional consultation until 10 PM)
Location: PWM
Fee: $45 (Please contact us if this fee would be a barrier to your participation)

Using innovative and interactive activities, Jesse Stong (Art Educator/Playwright) will support emerging artists to develop a strong application for their own future project grants. From seeding and exploring initial ideas to developing dynamic writing samples, and participating in group brainstorms to elaborate and articulate project outlines with realistic timelines and budgets. By the end of this hands-on sessions each participant will leave with their own completed first draft of a grant proposal, as well as many tips on finding a diversification of funding, independent fundraising strategies, and guidance on building partnerships for the future life of their proposed project.

Application guideline
  • Send a paragraph describing your interest in the workshop.
  • Please attach a bio and/or CV.
  • Send applications to jesse@playwrights.ca and harris@playwrights.ca
    with subject line: Exploring Practice with Jesse Stong
  • Application deadline:  1 PM on April 4, 2019
Topics Covered

a) General Grant Writing Tips/Cautions
b) Stress and Time Management/Infusing GRANT WRITING into your artistic practice
c) Hands-On Project Proposal Building (developing treatment, describing project)
d) Creative Activities (exploring innovative grant writing processes)
e) Expressing authentic NEED and attracting SUPPORT
f) Group Brainstorm Sessions (exploring ideas, developing proposals further in the workshop)
g) Editing and Increasing Impact (How to sharpen your grant)
h) Action planning/specific measurable steps towards grant submission
i) Ongoing Discussions/Group Sharing of Resources/Sources of Funding

Expectations
  • Participants should come to the workshop with a project/residency idea they are genuinely interested in developing a grant proposal for (the idea can be fully developed or a seed of a new project)
  • Participants should be expected to engage with the hands-on process.
  • Participants will support the ideas of others/contribute to the group discussions.
  • Participants will leave with a clear plan to continue to process forward
About the Instructor

Jesse Stong is curently completing his fourth year designing and leading PWM’s Young Creators Unit. Jesse is a graduate of Playwriting from the National Theatre School of Canada and is completing his Masters in Art Education at Concordia University. He was recently assistant curator for the National Art’s Centre Disability Summit, and in 2016 received the Michaëlle Jean Foundation award for his innovative writing/puppetry workshops for schools and youth groups. Jesse is a proud member of the board of directors at Les Muses: Centre for dance and performance training, for people living with intellectual differences, as well as a writing facilitator for the Quebec Writers Federation.

 

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Structure (for Writers who Hate Structure)

Exploring Practice with Eric Micha Holmes

Dates: March 18, 20 & 22, 2019
Time: 10AM to 3PM (15 hours total)
Location: PWM
Fee: $45 (Please contact us if this fee would be a barrier to your participation)
Application deadline: February 24, 2019

This three-day workshop is aimed at playwrights who have a project they want to revisit—or have been chronically stuck on.

Ideal applicants are emerging/mid-career writers who may be familiar with Aristotle, Freytag, and Joseph Campbell, but haven’t read them in a while—or have found them unhelpful because they work in non-traditional modes. This workshop can be used to manipulate the thinkers mentioned above toward the playwright’s own unique, innovative, and bold artistic goals. Participants will also have the opportunity to hear (small selections) of their work read out loud and discussed rigorously using the tools being developed in this workshop.

This workshop will include:

  1. Overview of dramatic structure drawing from an eclectic variety of sources from antiquity to the modern day
  2. Prompts that may include some light writing exercises to share
  3. In-depth discussion, argument, and practice

How to Register:

Send applications to: harris@playwrights.ca and emma@playwrights.ca.
Use subject line: Exploring Practice with Eric Micha Holmes
Deadline to Apply: February 24, 2019
Note: Please include your CV/Bio as well as brief paragraph explaining your interest in this training.

Biography:

Eric Micha Holmes is a playwright and radio dramatist whose work has been heard on the BBC (“Care Inc.”) and seen at The National Black Theatre (“Mondo Tragic,”) The New Black Fest and MCC Theatre (“Pornplay; or, Blessèd Are The Meek,”) and New York Theatre Workshop (“Nimpsey Pink.”). He’s a Dramatist Guild Fellow, Audible Award Recipient, and resident playwright of the National Black Theater.

His mono-play, “Walking Next To Michael Brown: Confessions Of A Tragic Mulatto,” was commissioned by The New Black Fest and has toured with Barrymore-Nominated “Hands Up: 7 Playwrights / 7 Testaments” to theatres across the country including:  The Brooklyn Museum Of Art, The Red Door Theatre, Crowded Fire Theatre, The Museum Of The Moving Image, The Hansberry Project, and Flashpoint Theatre.

Eric’s Website
Interview with Breaking Character Magazine 

 

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Ed Roy Speaks on New Show, Creativity and Assembly Lines

Ed Roy
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By Harris Frost

Dora Award-winning theatre practitioner Ed Roy spoke with us in July about his new one-man show The History of the World which he’s developing in collaboration with PWM.

 

PWM: To start, could you speak briefly about this new project you’re working on?

Ed Roy: I’m working on a one-man show called The History of the World, which was inspired by an investigative look into my childhood and the people who raised me. It’s a fusion of a lecture and storytelling. It’s about the correlation between the lecturers’ personal history, my personal history, and historical events. And how larger events in history affect our lives in ways we aren’t conscious of.

PWM: You call this a hybrid performance. What does that entail?

Ed Roy: Well, it’s interactive in a way. I not only propose a thesis, I also interact with the audience asking them questions about their own relationship with history and consciousness. So there’s that element to it as well as the theatrical aspects of it.

PWM: I came across a video from 2013 of you performing an early version of this piece. How much has it changed in the last five years?

Ed Roy: I was an instructor at Guelph University and that’s really where I developed my lecturing style. What I find was that my students lacked an overview of history, culture, art and how that intersects with their own creation. And then I got this inspiration to start doing a three and half minute improv called The History of the World in 3 ½ Minutes. I started expanding on that gradually over the next few years. Later, when I was at the Rubaboo festival in Edmonton, the festival organizer suggested that I do a version of it, very last minute. I performed it with no notes or anything and it ended up being four hours long.

So by the time we got to that [2013] workshop you mentioned, I was starting to play with physical elements and I thought “Why am I lecturing on the history of the world?” and I started to intersperse my own personal story because I started to do investigative work to find out my personal history. And my personal history was truly clouded. So I started to infuse the lecture with that. But it was still very raw.

The mash-up between the personal stories and the historical lecture wasn’t quite melding yet, but the idea was there. And between then and now, this project has always been in the back of my mind. Now, I’ve cannibalized a lot of what was in those original versions so I really have about three plays that have congealed into one. I liken it to a painting. Any painting that we see, we’re seeing the result of many paintings that are layered beneath the painting in front of us. That’s what this is. And so is history.

PWM: What kinds of spaces do you plan on performing this piece in?

Ed Roy: I don’t know, but I did originally think about doing it in a lecture hall. Because a lecture hall is invariably theatrical. It has all the ingredients of what theatre is. So it could be interesting to do it there. [The piece] does involve a gigantic weather balloon that I use as a projection surface and for other things, so that I don’t know about that yet.

PWM: Why did you choose to work with PWM on this?

Ed Roy: A bit of it is synchronicity. But I am originally from Montreal. When Paula Danckert was here I would always be dropping in. I had a discussion with Emma a few years ago about this piece because I was looking for a dramaturg.

I think that dramaturgy works best when there’s a personal relationship as well. I am also a dramaturg myself. And to me, the best dramaturg is a knowledgeable person who can invest themselves personally in a project. So the journey becomes shared. And in the past couple of workshops that’s what Emma and I have been doing.

PWM: When will the show be premiering?

Ed Roy: How dare you!

In an ideal world: 2020 or 2021. Yesterday would be great but it needs more time. So often we rush toward that product. And in the early stages in my career as a director/dramaturg, we would do shows very, very quickly. Or I would be brought in as a director on a show with a ten- day-long rehearsal period, for a play that wasn’t finished. And I acquired the skill set to put the shows together very quickly. But on this show, I’m building relationships that’ll support how I want to work.

PWM: Does the fact that this show is so personal change your approach to writing it?

Ed Roy: It is personal. But everything we do is personal. I can’t speak for everyone, but if I’m going to spend time with an artist and we’re going to put a show on together, then the subject matter has to be something that I believe in. And it represents an aspect of me, one way or another. So if a show goes up and it’s shitty, I take that personally.

PWM: Even in the type of situation you were talking about earlier where you were brought in to a show with very little rehearsal time?

Ed Roy: I married myself completely to those shows. But here’s the thing, I died a thousand deaths when they didn’t work. I also called an end to that when I knew it wasn’t working for me. Because I decided that I’m not on an assembly line, if I had wanted to be on one I would have made that choice in my early twenties and worked at a car factory. I think that’s a trap. But that’s the challenge of this field. I can’t make this decision for anyone else but when I take on a project I take it personally.

To know something well, to come up with something original, you have to discard so much before you get to something interesting. It takes time. So with a project that has taken so long, there were projects in between and that’s also part of the process. Sometimes you pick something up off the back-burner and look at it with new eyes. And right now, all I have on my mind is this project. And then other things will reveal themselves.

Protective Practices for Playwrights

ExplorinPractice with Robin Sokoloski

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LIVESTREAM THIS TRAINING:

For the first time ever, we will be offering a livestream of an Exploring Practice session. Live viewers will have the opportunity to ask questions in real time. Two 60-90 minute portions of the workshop will be streamed live:

  1. Starting roughly at 11 am ET on November 19th, Robin will familiarize participants with the basics of intellectual property and copyright law.
  2. Starting roughly at 10:30 am ET on November 20th, Robin will present an overview of production contracts (in particular premiere contracts and stock contracts).
  3. If you are interested in remotely attending these sessions, please email harris@playwrights.ca for more information. Please note that this a test run and may not become a regular practice.

 

An introduction to copyright, artists’ rights

Dates: November 19-21, 2018
Time: 10AM to 3PM
Location: PWM
Fee: $45 (Fee is not a barrier to anyone who might be interested/eligible)
Application deadline: November 4, 2018

 

Protective Practices for Playwrights

Through a sequence of liberating structures, Robin Sokoloski, Executive Director of Playwrights Guild of Canada will guide participants through a three-day hands-on workshop that will focus on the rights and freedoms of playwrights  within a Canadian theatre context.

The workshop will begin with an in-depth look at the rights one should know and understand about artist’s intellectual property. Participants will then be thoroughly introduced to the standard set of professional contracts (negotiated and ratified in June 2017 by Playwrights Guild of Canada and the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres). Specific clauses such as participation rights, minimum guarantees, and commissioning will be examined. Contacts that specifically pertain to musicals, theatre for young audiences and the licensing of amateur rights will be layered on to what has been already learned. The end of the day will involve a peer-to-peer consulting activity to exercise what has been discussed throughout the day.

Day two will look at engaging other creators and Playwrights Guild of Canada’s set of guidelines for devised and collective creation, translation, adaptation, and digital rights.

During day three, participants will have the chance to further develop their negotiation skills. Robin will meet each participant individually and will talk them through the first phase of a contract negotiation.

Each participant will have access to a digital package of contracts and an optional one-on-one contract clinic after the workshop has taken place with Playwrights Guild of Canada at the time of their choosing.

Application guideline: To apply for this training, please submit a bio and CV, and a short (1-2 paragraph) statement explaining why this subject interests you or how it is relevant to your practice.
Please send applications to emma@playwrights.ca
Subject line: Exploring practice with Robin Sokoloski
Application deadline: November 4, 2018

 

ROBIN SOKOLOSKI has been the Executive Director of Playwrights Guild of Canada (PGC) since 2010.

As Executive Director, Ms. Sokoloski has taken part in the organization’s triennial contract negotiations, launched the Canadian Play Outlet (a book store dedicated entirely to Canadian Plays), fostered a growing national awards program for playwrights, the Tom Hendry Awards, and led major changes within the organization. Recently, she spearheaded a research initiative on digital rights for playwrights.

As a facilitator, Ms. Sokoloski utilizes liberating structures to convene and engage participants in animated conversations on a variety of topics pertaining to the arts sector.

Ms. Sokoloski remains committed to ensuring Canadian artists are treated fairly and are informed of their rights. She volunteers for various arts organization as a way of staying connected to the arts community and ensuring public access to artistic experiences. She currently Chairs Access Copyrights’ Membership Advisory Committee, sits on Ryerson University’s Centre For Free Expression Advisory Committee, and is a founding member of Mass Culture/Mobilisation Culturelle.

 

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Lois Brown on Genius, Paper and Microphones

PWM Interview with Lois Brown

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By Harris Frost

Interdisciplinary artist Lois Brown is currently rehearsing her new piece I Am A Genius Does Anyone Here Know Me?. The piece was developed with dramaturg and PWM artistic director Emma Tibaldo and dance dramaturg Thea Patterson. Lois spoke with us in July during her studio residency at PWM.

 

PWM: The piece you’re working on with us right now is called I Am A Genius Does Anyone Here Know Me?, could you tell us a little bit about it?

Lois Brown: It’s gone through a couple different iterations. A couple of years ago I was calling it The Papers Improvisation. And even before that, its roots go back to when I was an artist-in-residence here at PWM. I used to write my thoughts down on paper every morning. And then I started getting more interested in the qualities of the paper and playing with it. That then lead to me becoming interested in different objects and what they might do if I tried my best not to act on them. And also I wanted to play with the microphone, so it turned into a sonic relationship.

Now, at this residency, I brought in the composer whom I’ve wanted to collaborate with for a long time. This is our first time working together. And because so much of this piece is based on the sonic relationships between different objects, it’s been really exciting to have him here.

PWM: You’ve described this piece as a combination of improvised  and scripted elements.

Lois Brown: Yeah, there are some things that I know that want to talk about. For example, I’m talking about the value of playing aimlessly. Being able to realize the genius in things when you’re not just focused on what their functions are. So I want to combine some of my skills in writing and structuring things in a theatrical way with my interest in the way that dance practitioners choreograph pieces. I’m improvising because I don’t really know what the paper will do when I do something to it, but I’ve worked with it so long that I have a good idea of what it might do.

PWM: How did you first become involved with PWM?

Lois Brown: I came here first for a very short time, through a grant from Canada Council, back when Paul Dankert was the Artistic Director. And then, several years later after I had had an accident, Emma, who was just taking over from Greg MacArthur offered me the opportunity to be the Artist in Residence. That came at the right time for me, because I wasn’t able to get around after my accident. I’ve become really attached to this organization because it’s helped me so much and it’s become a sort of home for me.

PWM: And is that experience part of the reason you’ve chosen to collaborate with us on this piece?

Lois Brown: Yeah, but also, strangely, in my community in Newfoundland, there are very few resources available to a small, independent artist. So for me to come to Montreal to rehearse is actually easier and less expensive than if I were to stay in my own city in Newfoundland.

PWM: How has it been working with your composer/collaborator James O’Callaghan over this week? Especially since you’re involving someone new in a project that you’ve been working on alone for so long.

Lois Brown: It’s really scary, yeah. Before James came in I had a meeting with Thea [Patterson] and we laid out some of the principles on which the piece was developed, what my ideas were and what I wanted my relationship to the things to be. And then, with James we started by just going through all the different objects and playing with them separately. So I would show him what I had been doing with a particular object and then he would get up and start playing with the object himself. What he did was quite different and much more sonically sophisticated.

PWM: Could you speak a little about the title of the piece? How does it tie into what you’re doing?

Lois Brown: Well, we all learn in grade school everything is made up of the same stuff, the same matter. So I use that fact as a jumping off point to examine the way in which I’m trying to control things that happen. So for example, I’m trying to tell a story with the plastic bags but if the plastic bags do something by themselves, then that becomes more important than whatever story I’m trying to tell.

And also my dad used to wear a pin that said “I am a genius” as joke, although maybe he thought he really was a genius. He really enjoyed that you never know what type of person actually is a genius. So I guess I just think that everybody’s a genius really. But also, I want to explore the connection between genius and memory. You can appear to be really smart just because you can remember a lot of things.

I Am A Genius Does Anyone Here Know Me? will be performed at the Festival of New Dance in St. John’s on October 4th.