Umbrella Talk with Playwright Robert Chafe

This week we chat with playwright Robert Chafe of Newfoundland's Artistic Fraud. Robert talks to us about director Jillian Keiley, what two things he ignores and what scares him in life that he's already written about.

A bit more on Robert Chafe

Robert Chafe’s work has been seen across Canada, the UK, and Australia. He is the author of fifteen stage scripts and co-author of another ten. He frequently collaborates with director Jillian Keiley; Emptygirl, and Under Wraps: A Spoke Opera. Two of his plays (Tempting Providence and Butler’s Marsh) were published in 2004 by Playwrights Canada Press, and subsequently shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Drama. Tempting Providence, directed by Keiley and produced by Theatre Newfoundland Labrador, is entering its seventh year of touring, and has been nominated for two Betty Mitchell Awards and a Dora. His one act play for Theatre Newfoundland Labrador, One Foot Wet, saw its premiere at the Gros Morne Theatre Festival in 2007, and toured the southern UK last Fall. His stage adaptation of Michael Crummey’s short story AfterImage for Artistic Fraud will premiere in April 09 at the HarbourFront Centre’s World Stage Festival. He is currently working on a film adaptation of Tempting Providence, and his first novel. He is Artistic Associate and playwright for Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland.

Umbrella Talk with Robert Chafe

What do you drink on opening night?

Usually jamiesons whiskey (after the complimentary red wine runs out).

Who would direct the coolest production of one of your plays?

Jillian Keiley. she has done. no one understands what i'm trying to do like her. and i would say vice versa.

What scares you? What can't you write about?

hmmm. it seems all the things that really scare me in life i have already written about; loneliness, death of my parents, etc. i guess i really can't write about what really makes me tick. probably because i don't know yet, and probably because i don't think anyone would be interested.

What do you want to write about that you haven't yet?

i'd like to do more political/topical writing. i sometimes feel sad that my work doesn't have the current topical punch of some of the writers that i really admire. but strangely i also don't know if i am built to write such things.

If someone was to write a play about your life, what genre would it be? (eg. comedy, tragedy, melodrama, horror)

melodrama. definitely. one of my worst qualities; emotional escalation. what is tragic and life altering one day ends up making me roll my eyes with embarrassment for myself the next.

How do you deal with praise? With criticism?

i'd like to be able to ignore both. i've gotten great at discarding praise, but criticism? i can still quote bad reviews and negative feedback for years afterwards. not healthy, that.

Where would you like your work to be produced?

anywhere really.

Where do you write? Pen or keyboard?

in my home office usually, sometimes in my local coffeeshop if i need the distraction. keyboard, definitely keyboard.

What would you like academics to write about your work in 50 years?

that i was honest.

What inspires you?

newfoundland. the people who live here. love.

Thanks again for reading this week's Umbrella Talk. Join us here again next week as we talk to Western Canada's Jon Lachlan Stewart. Again, if you are a playwright that has been produced here in Canada and/or elsewhere, and would like to talk to us, please drop us an e-mail at