It’s like Oscar nominations in the play writing world this morning as the nominees for the 2015 Governor General’s Awards for Drama were announced.
It’s a great honour to be nominated and a sign that your play will likely enter the burgeoning canon of Canadian drama. We’re quite excited to delve into each of these plays and thought that you might like the chance to read one or two for yourselves, so we offer up this small profile of each of the plays and their playwrights.
PLUS, you can win an iPad and the full 2015 GGBooks Collection! All you have to do is take a selfie with any GG award winning book, post it to social media and tag #GGBooks or #MyCanLit. Learn more: http://ggbooks.ca/contest
In addition to the English-language nominees listed here, the other nominees are: for French-to-English translation, David Scott Hamilton for his translation of Claudine Dumont’s Captive; Lazer Lederhendler for his translation of Perrine Leblanc’s The Lake; Rhonda Mullins for her translation of Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals; Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli for their translation of Emmanuelle Walter’s Stolen Sisters: The Story of Two Missing Girls, Their Families and How Canada Has Failed Indigenous Women; and Donald Winkler for his translation of Roch Carrier’s Montcalm and Wolfe: Two Men Who Forever Changed the Course of Canadian History. For French drama, Simon Boudreault for En cas de pluie, aucun remboursement, Fabien Cloutier for Pour réussir un poulet, Jean-Rock Gaudreault for Jouez, Monsieur Molière!, Annick Lefebvre for J’accuse, and Olivier Sylvestre for La beauté du monde.
Winners and Losers
by Marcus Youssef and James Long
Winners and Losers begins as a conversation between lifelong friends. Theatre artists Marcus Youssef and James Long sit at a table and play a game they made up, naming people, places and things and debating whether they are winners or losers. But as the competition heats up things get personal. The focus of debate shifts from Pamela Anderson, microwave ovens and Goldman Sachs to social class and family histories, and the ruthless logic of capitalism that the players had embraced is brought to bear on their closest and most personal relationships.
Combining scripted and improvised performance, Winners and Losers questions whether one friendship can survive, or even be strengthened by, such excruciating honesty.
“Winners and Losers is one of the most exciting, intelligent—and entertaining—shows you’ll see this season.” – The Georgia Straight
“As the crowd was leaving the theatre after the performance of Winners and Losers, one man kept repeating “Formidable!” to his companion. This captures to perfection the hour and a half of verbal fireworks we had just witnessed. A verbal tour de force.” — **** (out of four), The Globe and Mail
” … as emotionally bracing as it is intellectually stimulating, a punch in the gut that packs deep insights into the problem of fit between people and categories.” — Performance Place Politics
About the Playwrights
Actor and playwright Marcus Youssef was born in 1969 in Montreal to Egyptian parents and graduated from theNational Theatre School of Canada (Acting, 1992) and the University of British Columbia (M.F.A., 2002). He currently lives in Vancouver British Columbia with his partner Amanda and their sons Oscar and Zak. He is co-Artistic Director of Neworld Theatre in Vancouver, where he continues his work with community-based advocacy programs that use writing and/or theatre as tools for effecting political and social change. In 2009, he co-founded Progress Lab 1422, a collaboratively managed rehearsal and production centre in East Vancouver. He is also Western Artistic Associate of Magnetic North Theatre Festival . He teaches and lectures across Canada:in 04/05, he was an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Community Development at Concordia University in Montreal. He currently is on the faculty at Capilano University; and sits on the advisory board of the Canadian Theatre Review. He is Chair of the City of Vancouver’s Arts and Culture Advisory Council, where he advocates for the centrality of culture to Vancouver’s urban future.
Actor, director, and playwright, James Long has been making innovative theatre since 1995. He is a graduate of Simon Fraser University. In 2004, he co-founded Theatre Replacement with Maiko Bae Yamamoto and is currently co-artistic director. As a freelance actor and director he has worked with Rumble Theatre , Neworld Theatre , Cindy Mochizuki, urban ink productions , Leaky Heaven Circus, The Chop Theatre , The Only Animal , Stan’s Cafe, CBC radio and Electric Company Theatre , among many others.
The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble
by Beth Graham
Iris Trimble is trying to hold it all together. She may very well fly off the face of the earth if she doesn’t hang on to the kitchen counter. At least that’s how she feels after her mother, Bernice, a lively, recently widowed fifty-nine-year-old breaks the news that she has Alzheimer’s. In an effort to cope with the stress, Iris makes her mother’s famous Everything That Is Bad For You Casserole, a childhood favourite. Her siblings, on the other hand, are on opposite sides of the spectrum: Sarah, the eldest, irately demands a second opinion, while Peter, the youngest, seems completely unfazed. As for Bernice, she’s still as vivacious as ever, always up for a good laugh, and, most of all, ready to finally put herself first.
The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble is about the tricky nature of family dynamics and the effects of mental illness seen through the eyes of a young woman who’s searching for her own feelings amidst the whirlwind emotions of her family.
“Exceptionally well written. The storytelling is intense, poignant, and exceptionally nuanced.” —Winna Tse, Charlebois Post
“Honest, revealing and darkly funny.” —BroadwayWorld
About the Playwright
Actor and playwright, based in Edmonton, Alberta , who undertakes challenging issues and ideas in her theatre work. Beth Graham was born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia and grew up in Cochrane, Alberta. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting from the University of Alberta in 1998. With university classmate, Daniela Vlaskalic , she founded Bent Out of Shape Productions, a company dedicated to: “the collaboration between creation based artists in voicing ideas and issues that are important to them and challenge their community; the celebration of the freedom of expression that we have today by looking at examples of oppression in history; the creation of strong roles for women in the theatre.”
by Tara Grammy and Tom Arthur Davis
Mahmoud is an irreverent & hilarious one-woman show about an aging Iranian engineer-cum-taxi driver, a fabulously gay Spaniard, and a young Iranian-Canadian girl, all trying to get by the day-to-day grind in a busy metropolitan city.
Their stories come together over the course of an hour, and through their connections with the audience, themselves and each other, they explore the themes of displacement, immigration, home, and culture.
“An emotionally intense, heartfelt production, Mahmoud blends excellent acting by the talented Tara Grammy and a well-developed story to reveal the rocky journeys of three disparate characters in Toronto, Canada. Hilarious, touching, and involving, the story examines cultural and religious tensions over what it means to be Iranian in a modern, cosmopolitan city.”
-Mary Mallory, The Tolucan Times
“Mahmoud was an absolute joy. As the characters’ stories wound together and eventually intersected, it became a poignant examination of the cultural tensions that inform the immigrant experience in Toronto and a testament to Grammy’s diverse acting abilities.”
-Lauren Williams, Toronto Is Awesome
About the Playwrights
A recent graduate of the University of Toronto, where she received an H.B.A Drama Specialist, Tara Grammy has worked with some of Canada’s top theatre artists, including: Ken Gass, Leah Cherniak, Soheil Parsa and Martha Ross. Tara is a world traveler; born in Tehran, she has lived in Germany, the United States, and Canada, and has traveled all across the world. She is interested in the immigration experience in her artistic endeavors, in an attempt to better understand multi-national identities.
Tom Arthur Davis is an actor, playwright, and director. He is a graduate of the University of Toronto where he received and H.B.A. specializing in theatre. His work has toured across North America including Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, New York, and Los Angeles. Davis also acts as the Artistic Director of Pandemic Theatre.
by Bryden MacDonald
Welcome to the small town of Tartan Cross, Nova Scotia, where skeletons rattle in closets and past histories are so intertwined that the lives of four forty-something, eccentric characters have become so complicated that something needs to change. In the comedy, Odd Ducks, award-winning playwright Bryden MacDonald positions his four characters at the brink of existential angst – and the action unfolds from there.
At the centre of the drama is Ambrose Archibald, an irredeemable reprobate and the type of guy who rants philosophically at the bar while mooching beer from his friends. He’s a narcissist who thinks he’s God’s gift to women. And he’s having an affair with the charming and beautiful Mandy Menzies, who was the high school beauty queen but is now stuck in a marriage of convenience and a life of boredom. Her housekeeper, Estelle Carmichael, has seen it all, but her prickly exterior belies a loving heart. The dryly funny Freddy Durdle is the perfect counterbalance to over-the-top Ambrose.
All four oddballs seem stuck in their lives, but searing sarcasm relieves the boredom and crazy, everyday dramas aid their struggle to move on and keep things light.
“Odd Ducks is a tragedy that is essentially a comedy because really, without comedy, nothing can be taken seriously … The writing sizzles and sings … the play builds to a great finish.”
– Chronicle Herald (Halifax)
“The dialogue is snappy, the laughs are frequent.”
– The Coast (Halifax)
About the Playwright
Able to unite the urban settings of large cities like Toronto or Montreal with the small-town experiences of expatriates of Atlantic Canada, Bryden MacDonald is a playwright known for his lyrical and colourful scripts that delve into the conflicts of dislocated characters. This includes Whale Riding Weather (1991),The Weekend Healer (1994), and Divinity Bash / nine lives (1999). Music is also a key feature of his plays, as the scripts call for specific songs; he has also created theatrical interpretations of the music of Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Carole Pope and Kevan Staples. For Whale Riding Weather, MacDonald received a Jessie Award for best Vancouver production in 1992 while the published script was shortlisted for the Governor-General’s Award in 1994, as well as the Chalmers and Dora Awards. On the East Coast, he has worked with Guysborough’s Mulgrave Road Theatre and Festival Antigonish, yet he has also worked in more urban centres with the National Arts Centre and Monument-National. Born in Glace Bay in 1960, MacDonald lives in both Nova Scotia and Montreal, and teaches future playwrights at the National Theatre School of Canada.
carried away on the crest of a wave
by David Yee
From the shore of Ko Phi Phi in Thailand to a suburb in Utah to a mysterious Kafkaesque hole in the ground, carried away on the crest of a wave gives us brief glimpses into the lives of a sphinx-like escort, a grieving father, a conflicted priest, brothers of legend, a felonious housewife, an accountant of time, an orphaned boy, a radio shock jock and a man who finds things. Each are connected, primarily, by the cataclysmic 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that claimed the lives of over a quarter million people. In a series of vignettes, carried away on the crest of a wave illustrates the ripple effect of one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history and ponders what happens when the events that bind us together are the same events that tear us apart.
About the Playwright
David Yee is a playwright and actor, born and raised in Toronto. He is currently a playwright-in-residence with Tarragon Theatre and the Artistic Director of fu-GEN Asian Canadian Theatre Company. His most recent plays include carried away on the crest of a wave, paper SERIES and lady in the red dress, as well as contributions to the writing teams behind Artistic Fraud’s Fear of Flight and The Room’s Red Machine. David was a finalist for the 2010 Governor General’s Literary Award for lady in the red dress and was shortlisted for the 2011 Carol Bolt Award for paper SERIES.