Umbrella Talk with playwright Linda Griffiths

Welcome to this week's Umbrella Talk with playwright Linda Griffiths. Linda, a five-time Dora Mavor Moore award winner and two-time Chalmer's award winner, tells us which directors might have a combination of ruthless attention to detail and fabulous imagination to direct the coolest production of one of her plays; who she is scared of, can't write about, but wants to write about next; and who might call her work a fusion of political provocativeness and fantasy 50 years from now.

A little more on Linda Griffiths

As playwright and actor, Griffiths is the winner of five Dora Mavor Moore awards, a Gemini award, two Chalmer’s awards, the Quizanne International Festival Award for Jessica, the Betty Mitchel Award for Age of Arousal and Los Angeles’ A.G.A. Award for her performance in John Sayles’ film Liana. She has twice been nominated for the Governor General’s Award (The Darling Family, 1992 Alien Creature, 2000). Her plays include Maggie & Pierre, The Darling Family, Alien Creature: a visitation from Gwendolyn MacEwen, Age of Arousal. As co-author of The Book of Jessica (written with native author and activist Maria Campbell), Griffiths and Campbell created a new hybrid of theatre book, one which included the play Jessica, as well as the personal and political process of it’s creation. Through her company Duchess Productions Griffiths produces a unique theatre class “Visceral Playwrighting”, which has inspired many young theatre artists. Her latest play, Age of Arousal will receive five productions in 08/09 in Canada and the U.S. New projects include a new one-person-show, The Last Dog of War and Boys in the Basement. A short story based on her play, A Game of Inches, will appear in Exile magazine in January, 09.

For more information on Linda Griffiths, please visit her website and blog at and her facebook group page at

Umbrella Talk with Linda Griffiths

What do you drink on opening night?

Tea with caffeine. Unfortunately or fortunately, I am a teetotaler, but I can usually find something or someone to get me high.

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

I want to say Julie Taymor but David Copelin already picked her. Karen Hines, Peter Hinton, Katrina Dunn, Sarah Stanely, Leah Cherniak, Allysa Palmer…there are more. They have to have a combination of ruthless attention to detail and a fabulous imagination.

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

My parents.

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

My parents. Work that has to do with my father is coming, in a one-person play, The Last Dog of War. Am I scared? Yes.

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

All of the above, especially melodrama. There would be ridiculous highs and messy lows, there would be cackling laughter, accidents, farcical doors, frightening spirits and kind faeries, there would be exuberance and danger, juxtaposed with long perhaps boring scenes of me lolling in front of a fire, ignoring the world.

How do you deal with praise? With criticism?
I like praise and I hate criticism. That’s not to say I haven’t learned from criticism and gotten fried by praise.

Where would you like your work to be produced?


Where do you write? Pen or keyboard?
I write on keyboard, I seem hot wired into those little plastic thingees, but like many writers, also have dog eared note books, stained napkins, unsticked stickies, with ideas and phrases that occur.

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

First it would be amazing if they were writing about me. If they were, I’d like them to talk about a fusion of political provocativeness and fantasy.

What inspires you?

Courage. People rising up in the face of terrible odds. I’m a sucker for cheesy movies on this subject. Sometimes I cry. Whenever someone is shit on and doesn’t go down the tubes, that is inspiring.

Thanks for reading this week's Umbrella Talk, next week we talk with playwright Marjorie Chan. If you are a playwright who has been produced several times here in Canada or elsewhere and would like to talk to us too, please send us an e-mail to