About the Author

Brian Drader

Brian Drader is an actor and writer from Winnipeg, who now lives in Montreal, and is head of the playwriting program at the National Theatre School of Canada. His writing credits include Liar (Scirocco Drama, 2004, a finalist for the Joyce Dutka Arts Foundation Playwriting Award, New York, NY), Prok (Scirocco Drama, 2003, winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Drama, a finalist for the 2003 Governor General’s Award for Drama, and winner of the Theatre BC National Playwriting Award and the Brick Playhouse New Play Award), The Norbals (winner of the Herman Voaden National Playwriting Competition, and also published by Scirocco Drama), S*it (a play for teens), The Fruit Machine, and Tucktuck. Drader is also editor of Breakout, a Scirocco anthology of plays by young emerging playwrights.

Books by this Author
Things That Go Bump

This volume contains five recent Canadian plays for young adult audiences. Three of the plays were originally written for touring to secondary schools (In This World, Offensive Fouls and To Be Frank). Learning the Game has toured via the Fringe and community groups as well as in schools. Binti’s Journey is designed for the interesting senior-elementary/junior-high age group (Grades 7 to 9, give or take a year either way); it is an adaptation for the theatre of Deborah Ellis’ novel for young people, The Heaven Shop.

These plays are about real and current issues for young adults, written by writers who are involved and connected with this demographic for reasons of their own which also are varied and individual. The plays were commissioned or assisted by some of Canada¹s foremost companies in the field of Theatre for Young Audiences â�� Geordie Theatre and Youtheatre, both in Montreal, Theatre Direct in Toronto, Manitoba Theatre for Young People in Winnipeg, Concrete Theatre in Edmonton, and All Nations Theatre in Calgary. Also involved along the way were provincial Arts Councils, playwrights’ and writers’ centres, universities and theatre schools, individual dramaturges, artistic directors, and fellow writers and artists.

The playwrights have a wealth of theatrical and life experience: Hannah Moscovitch is currently playwright-in-residence at Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre; Jason Long teaches writing for adults and youth and is working on a commission for Quest Theatre; Janice Salkeld has been a junior high/high school teacher and a program coordinator/consultant for Early Childhood Intervention Programs; Brian Drader writes for film as well as theatre, and is presently the Director of Playwriting for the National Theatre School of Canada; Marcia Johnson is an actor and librettist, and currently playwright-in-residence for Roseneath Theatre.

Most playwrights will tell you that it takes a whole team to see the work to fruition, and that includes the audience. One of the most refreshing things about writing with young audiences of any age in mind is that they will tell you � or show you � whether your work is resonating with them, if it interests them, if they care about the characters. These plays have been road-tested and survived the exciting journey.

I asked each writer to talk about that journey � why they wanted to write for this age group, how it came about, what the development process was like, how the play was received by the first audiences, whether rewrites happened because of that experience, etc. These notes by the writers can be found at the end of each script.

I am sure that teachers of young adults will find these scripts current and refreshing examples of good writing and good scene work. The plays will provoke discussion and exciting in-class explorations. For production inquiries � should you wish to stage the full play � please note that these works are fully protected by copyright, and I encourage you to contact the publisher who will put you in touch with the writer directly. Canadian playwrights are delighted to have their work produced, and are not remotely greedy. They also need to eat.

I hope you enjoy the work.

Kit Brennan Theatre Department, Concordia University Montreal, Quebec

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Three on the Boards

Three people or objects placed at equidistance form a triangle, which is a sharp-cornered, spiky sort of a shape. They don't roll well, they're not curvy. They give off pointed vibes. So, I discovered, do recent Canadian plays for three actors—at least, the ones that I was drawn to for this collection.

Seven plays of various lengths, by writers living in Edmonton, Saskatoon, Toronto, Montreal and St. John's, form a darkly and mainly urban picture of Canada in the first decade of this new century and millennium. Some of their themes are not for the faint of heart. Love is variously celebrated and thrown away—as is tolerance, as is hope. There's a lot of substance abuse, as well as other kinds of abuse; many of the characters are running as hard as they can away from themselves. At the same time, they can be endearing, caustic and often extremely funny, because they are very human. Three of the plays have a writer (poet, novelist, screenwriter, journalist) as a character, and—especially when considered together—these dramas question what it's like trying to live, stay sane and document the world we've inherited (and created) at this poised, imminent heartbeat in time. Even the two gentler, shorter comedies have dark edges: a young woman mourned by a grieving father, an affection-starved, spooky landlady. In plays for three actors, it seems everyone is fighting their own battle in a sharp-cornered ring, which flings them together and then apart. Oddly, taken as a whole, they become almost uplifting.

The playwrights range from established voices, whose work you may have encountered before, to emerging writers of various ages. Their backgrounds, too, are widely differing and contribute to the ways in which they tell their characters' stories. For each, three actors are required to work in a vibrant ensemble, with all corners fully inhabited.

With these seven plays, I hope the anthology also demonstrates the ever-evolving nature of new writig for the theatre, which is acutely aware of the speed with which we now process image, sound, and even time and space. Scenes and characters morph seamlessly, borrowing from new techniques of film as well as the ancient craft of oral storytelling, while remaining true to the necessities and immediacy of theatre.

I thank the writers whose work appears here, as well as the many other playwrights who submitted their scripts. I hope this collection may spark further productions, and perhaps a few heated discussions about our future, our country, and our theatre.

—Kit Brennan, editor

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edited by Brian Drader
tagged : canadian
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