Umbrella Talk with playwright Rosemary Rowe

In this week's Umbrella Talk, playwright Rosemary Rowe talks about wanting to eat the world, writer ADD, and why her work should be at Shaw.

A little more about Rosemary Rowe

Rosemary Rowe is a playwright and blogger who's pretty sure Anne of Green Gables turned her gay. A long-time theatre nerd, she has recently branched out into “moving pictures” with a new web series, Seeking Simone.

Rose's recent theatre credits include co-creating/co-curating and hosting the sold-out Anne Made Me Gay: When Kindred Spirits Get Naked at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto; writing Session 12 for Solo Collective’s Solo Flights festival in Vancouver; writing Cradle-Robbing Cougar for Workshop West's Loud n' Queer Cabaret in Edmonton; and writing/performing The Diary of Rachel Keyes, Klondyke Nurse for the Hysteria Festival at Buddies. Her play Benedetta Carlini was published in NeWest Press’s NeXtFest Anthology and continues to be performed by keen theatre teens all over Canada. Rose thinks she has a BFA in Directing from York University, but refuses to pay her totally bogus library fine to find out.

Rose lives in Vancouver B.C. with her wife Kate and their junkyard dog Emmy Lou. You can read her thoughts at Creampuff Revolution.

What do you drink on opening night?
Anything sweet. I’m a girl drink drunk. And I’m not ashamed!

Who would direct the coolest production of one of your plays?
I suppose it’s a cop-out, but there are so many phenomenal directors out there that I’m dying to work with (or work with again). So really - anyone other than me.

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

What do you want to write about that you haven't yet?
One of my biggest challenges as a writer is actually finishing a piece before I move on to the next thing. I tend to get several ideas at the same time and can’t pick just one (I have the same problem with knitting). I’ve got three different projects on the go right now - so really, this question is just feeding my writer ADD. Thanks, MK.

If someone was to write a play about your life, what genre would it be? (eg. comedy, tragedy, melodrama, horror)
It would definitely be a musical. With a lot of songs about donuts and the perils of laughing at your own jokes.

How do you deal with praise? With criticism?
I enjoy praise when it happens! But you know, one doesn’t dwell on it. Though it IS nice to take praise out and stroke it now and then, when I’m feeling discouraged or frustrated.

I always joke that I don’t take criticism well, but I do take it seriously. It’s taken a long time for me to be able to distinguish between criticism that really applies to my work and how to make it better (which I LOVE and really appreciate and take very seriously and try very hard to incorporate) and criticism that’s really about how the other person would write the play, if it was their play – which is generally more about their influences and preferences and not about my work at all.

Where would you like your work to be produced?
I think the majority of my work’s been written for small casts and for small venues - because when you’re mainly producing at festivals, you want your show to be compact and you don’t want to pay a cast of thousands (or even of six). But my latest lesbonic historical fiction play is kind of bigger and requires a real set and I totally think they should just do it at the Shaw Festival. It fits their new mandate and I figure hey - they’re always doing gay man theatre at Stratford – maybe Shaw could be where gay lady theatre happens! Because they really go for the lesbians in Niagara-on-the-Lake. I have it all worked out, Shaw Festival. Give me a call.

Where do you write? Pen or keyboard?
I actually started writing plays because my parents got a computer when I was in high school. Without the magical ability to type, delete, cut and paste, I wouldn’t be a writer. Does that make me a Philistine? Perhaps. But at least my spellcheck knows how to spell “Philistine” correctly and to me, that’s progress.

What would you like academics to write about your work in 50 years?
“I bet she thought these jokes were hilarious 50 years ago…”

What inspires you?
I’m inspired by a million things, every day. Books, blogs, photographs, film, music, tv…grand, sweeping epics and the minutiae of people’s day-to-day lives – I just want to eat the world and know everything. But I’d say the person I’m most inspired by is my wife, Kate. She’s so creative and hilarious and has a giant brain – and is endlessly generous with her various gifts, which, as a miserly person, I find inspiring.