Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The most fabulous twitter list in the world

Is the one featuring our fabulous interviewees! You can find them here.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Umbrella Talk with Alix Sobler

Something very cool is going on in Winnipeg. (Besides the weather.) Their theatre season will see premiers by 7 women playwrights, which as a percentage of total premiers may be the highest in a Canadian city theatre season. (I'm just guessing but sadly, either way it's pretty remarkable.) They're being referred to as the Group of 7 and have done some joint publicity. I'm trying to get as many of them here at Umbrella Talks as possible. Here's the first.

A Little More about Alix Sobler

Born and raised in New York, Alix Sobler is currently a proud resident of Winnipeg, Manitoba.  She is a writer and performer whose solo work and plays have been seen all over North America. A Fringe Festival veteran, she has toured Canada many times and she was a regular on CBC's DNTO from 2006- 2010.  She is serious about her love of pets and homemade crafts. Her new play The Secret Annex will premiere at the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre in February 2014. Find out more about her at alixsobler.com.

What do you drink on opening night?
Come on, really? Champagne! What else?

Who would direct the coolest production of one of your plays?
Aside from my current director, Heidi Malazdrewich who is amazing, brilliant and kind? There are many wonderful directors I would love to work with both in Canada and the US. At the moment I am super interested in the work of Nicole Holofcener.

What scares you? What can't you write about?
Israel and Palestine. The idea of the research alone scares me.

What do you want to write about that you haven't yet?
It's not so much what I want to write ABOUT for me, but what genre I want to write in. I would really like to write a musical. Also I would love to write for television. I love the idea of crafting a whole season, even a whole series. It gives you so much time to develop character and relationships.

If someone was to write a play about your life, what genre would it be? (eg. comedy, tragedy, melodrama, horror)
It would be a comedy with tragic elements. You know, like life itself.

How do you deal with praise? With criticism?
I love it all! You can't take every single thing you hear to heart, everyone brings their own baggage when watching or reading a play. But it is valuable to hear what moved people and left people confused or wanting more. It's an art form that is very audience focused. If you are not interested in praise and criticism, why do it?

Where would you like your work to be produced?
I am very excited to have my work produced at the RMTC, that is a bit of  a dream come true. But I would love to see my work done at Soulpepper, Tarragon, the Arts Club, the Guthrie. As a born and raised New Yorker, there is a special place in my heart for the Public, Playwright's Horizons and many others. Broadway would also be nice.

Where do you write? Pen or keyboard?
A bit of both.

What would you like academics to write about your work in 50 years?
"Alix Sobler had much to say about the human condition, but if one must take a simple lesson away from her work it is this: love is awesome and life is worth it."

What inspires you?
Memories. History. Images. Dreams. These days I can find the seed of a story just about anywhere.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Umbrella Talk with Daniel Karasik

It seems like I've known Daniel forever. You name an event in the Toronto independent theatre landscape and he's there. I get amazed when I see all he has accomplished at such a young age. Not a surprise since he's so damn talented. You can find him on twitter @TangoCo

A Little More About Daniel Karasik

Daniel Karasik is a writer, director, and actor. Most active as a playwright, he has developed and presented new drama at many of Canada’s leading theatres, including Tarragon Theatre, Factory Theatre, the Canadian Stage Company, Touchstone Theatre, and the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. His plays have been seen in Toronto, New York, Vancouver, North Carolina, and regularly in translation in Germany. A recent grand prize winner of the CBC Literary Award for Fiction and Canadian Jewish Playwriting Award, he is the author of a new poetry collection, Hungry (Cormorant Books), and two books of plays: The Remarkable Flight of Marnie McPhee and The Crossing Guard and In Full Light (Playwrights Canada Press). He also helms the Toronto-based theatre company Tango Co., through which he has developed many of his plays, including The Biographer, running from May 2-19. See thebiographerplay.com for more info.

What do you drink on opening night?
Nothing at all before the show, since I’m terrified that once the show starts I’ll have to pee. After I’m allowed to pee again, I’ll usually have a beer.

Who would direct the coolest production of one of your plays?
Alan Dilworth, who’s directing a breathtakingly cool production of my play The Biographer right now. Think Bergman fused with Fellini fused with the best of German theatre’s formal adventurousness and English theatre’s sensitivity to language. May 2-19! www.thebiographerplay.com.

What scares you? What can't you write about?
What doesn’t scare me! I do it all anyway, though. As far as writing goes, I prefer the terror of vulnerability to the tedium of concealing vulnerability. I guess that’s a way of saying I like to write about the stuff I think I couldn’t possibly write about. Lately I do, anyway.

What do you want to write about that you haven't yet?
I want to write about love and sex like Mary Gaitskill writes about love and sex. With that kind of insight, subtlety, surprise. This probably won’t and shouldn’t happen, since I’m not Mary Gaitskill. Still, it’s something to almost though not quite aspire to.

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

How do you deal with praise? With criticism?
Gratefully and skeptically. In both cases.

Where would you like your work to be produced?
The Tarragon Theatre in Toronto, the Royal Court Theatre and Bush Theatre in London, and the Atlantic Theatre Company and Public Theatre in New York.

Where do you write? Pen or keyboard?
I write in a corner of my bachelor apartment, sometimes in the corner of a coffee shop near my place, very occasionally in the corner of a more distant coffee shop. My main requirement, obviously, is a corner. Keyboard for narrative, usually. Sometimes pen for poetry.

What would you like academics to write about your work in 50 years?
I gather that Harold Bloom has called Beckett the most authentic writer of the last century. I like that a lot and don’t really know what it means. It’d be cool if critics many years from now would say the same of my work. I still wouldn’t know what it means, but I’m sure I’d enjoy it.

What inspires you?
Uncertainty. Craving.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


You may have seen this hashtag trending last night. Theatre kegger was an invite to Tina Rasmussen's house to meet other "social media influencers" (nice to still be considered one) and talk about this season of World Stage.

She talked about audience engagement, active participation and the importance of seeing the art we create in Toronto in a world context. She has always believed that it's important to import the best of the world to inform our work, as well as export the work we are creating here.

The season is very exciting. I like that there's also a piece that looks at the similarities between sports and art,  a passion of mine. Also nice to see Tina continuing her connection with Australia. Honestly, who else would have come up with this?

But the biggest takeaway from last night? I covet her apartment, especially the toilet.