Thursday, October 26, 2006

Playwright's Notes

Here are the playwright's note I wrote up for Summer of my Amazing Luck, my welfare Moms play.

When I read the novel on which this play was based, I was gripped by a familiar feeling, and then a new one. A familiar mixture of emotional exhaustion and exhilaration, (which I often have after reading a work that has moved me deeply) but also something new; a feeling of potential. Not Miriam’s potential, which is much greater than mine, but a potential for me and this book to do something together, and being as young as I was, potential was almost all I had.

I have always had a soft spot for single mothers. My own mother was a single one for some time during my childhood, and my life was a mixture of rollicking amusement, crying I couldn’t understand, landlords we were afraid of for reasons unclear, the occasional boyfriend, moving a lot, strange babysitters with large children of their own, generally all the things that float through the life of a child whose parent is single and poor. I related to Miriam’s novel on a personal and political level. I wanted very much to make it into a play.

During the five years it took to bring this work to stage I grew five years older, wrote several other plays and got a bit better at it, rewrote this one many times, stopped eating meat, started again, grew and shaved various styles of facial hair, broke up with a few women who were all far too good for me, and consumed many meals in restaurants. In all that time, my affection for Miriam’s book never waned, and my affection for Miriam herself only grew.

How well or poorly to treat our poor is a political issue in our country. It is generally the feeling of the left that the poor should be given a chance to live indoors and raise their children, while people on the far right feel somewhat differently. Critics make much of abuses and fraud of the system, which surely occurs. But, I was once told by a lawyer (one who worked for Canada’s welfare system) that it was his firm opinion that we spend much more money seeking out and punishing welfare fraud then we would lose if all such efforts were halted completely. It’s an interesting thought, especially if money is the important thing. I am for the raising of funding for social programs, and the allowing of part time work to keep welfare recipients in the working world, without knocking their earned wages off their benefits. With our current federal government, I might as well be in favour of tuxedos for dragons and the assignment of pixies to CSIS, ( or something equally unrealistic, like avoiding the complete dismantling of Canadian arts funding).

Lots of teenagers get themselves into trouble. Sometimes they can get themselves out and some can not. This is the story of those who couldn’t, but who made a life or themselves anyway. It’s about community, family and taking care of each other. In these times more than ever, we need to do just that.

I thank Miriam, Brad, Beth and Caroline, Scott and Betty, Dave, Tanya, David and Kevin, and all the folks at Theatre Network, and anyone here tonight who is moved to email, write or phone their MP, and support Canada’s Cultural workers with their voice. Lately, culture’s all that makes us different from the United States.

Friday, October 06, 2006

la la la

This week i feel like a baby howard stern. i am the king of all (small time) media.

I did this thing on CBC radio called the "In Crowd" where we get to plug stuff we think is keen around the City. I came armed with all kinds of dope stuff, so far as I think. I also plugged Bash'd and the RFT prime time shows because I am a sneaky fucker. I brought more than I could use, sadly, and did not get to plugs all the pal's stuff i wanted to. Luckily it's all so great it'll do fine on it's own.

I did this thing on CTV news. It was an in-depth report (which for CTV means a whole 3.5 minutes! that is 56.5 less than 60, which is what 60 minutes does) about the financial boom in Alberta. I was reporting on the arts. I stuck up for Edmonton, not only as a place to start out, but as a place to keep living. I gave as many plugs as I could to Mayor Mandel and dissed the provincial government as best I could. (it was easy)

Next I am doing this thing called a "Total Write-Off" which is like some kind of improv literature game show thing or something. I have no idea. They told me one of my co-guests would be the filmaker guy from American Movie, but I don't know if that panned out. Hopefully super fun.

I am told that soon my 7 minute comedy series for CBC radio will be listened to and decided upon by the higher ups. Only 9.65 months after it was made! Me and Peter Brown worked hard on it, and so did Andrea House and Mark Meer as voices extroidinaire. Fingers crossed. It would be fun to make a bunch more.

And Bash'd marches on. I like the reviews for the most part, and I hope it won't sound like too much of sour grapes or over senitivity to declare Luke Foster from Vue Magazine rather a dumb fellow. First he exclaims that bisexuality doesn't exist (I disagree) , and now he says rap isn't a worthy genre for the discussion of serious topics like gay bashing. I disagree without the use of brackets. (Sorry Fugees! No more rapping about poverty for you!) Check his latest hard hitting column to hear what TV shows he finds "nifty".

I am blogging more often now, aren't i?