Awarded the Playwrights Guild of Canada national comedy award: The Chris Tolley & Dharini Woollcombe Comedy Award
If you just look at my social media, my artist life seems totally glamorous. And in fact I do often pinch myself because I didn’t think I’d get this far in theatre – as a trans person I didn’t initially see a place in theatre for myself at all. Earlier on in my career, my works premiered in esteemed institutions like living rooms, backyards and warehouses. To give you even more context for the significance of this award to me, I want to share a little of about the everyday life of a playwright, which I know even the most successful of artists will relate to:
Dear Mr Drake, I regret to inform you that your grant was not approved.
Dear Mr Drake, I’m sorry that we can’t support your project.
Dear Mr Drake, no we can’t give you money…
no we won’t put your show on…
no I don’t have time to read your email…
no that won’t work…
no no no no no NOO!
So, to receive the YES of this award is so nourishing and heartening. Thank you so much for the YES we believe in your work.
And it has not just been awards that have gotten me to this point where I now get fantastic support from institutions – it is also thanks to mentors who have taken me under their wing and championed my work. It is thanks to the nourishment from my peers. And thanks to audiences who have reached out to me to tell me what my work means to them.
In this spirit, I’d like to invite each of us to consider what YESes we could offer to artists over the next week. Jot down a list of three artists who you want to lift up and find ways to tell them YES: donate money to their fundraising campaigns, ask them if there are ways you can support their work, signal boost them, or simply reach out to express how important their work is to you.
In fact, let me take this opportunity to share with you some fantastic artists whose work I’d love to see more of: Bilal Baig, Rhiannon Collette, Stephen Jackman-Torkoff, Teiya Kasahara, Tsholo Khalema, Jay Northcott, Heath V. Salazar, Kai Taddei, Kiley May, Syrus Marcus Ware, Raven Wngz, Liam Zarillo and sooooooo many others!
At the awards ceremony, I was asked to share one my favourite lines from EVERY LITTLE NOOKIE. This line is from one of the supporting characters, Matt, who is a straight millennial dad recently separated from his wife, who falls for a queer woman, Annabel. Matt is trying to wrap his head around a wild new world and utters:
“I’m starting to suspect this polyamory thing involves a lot more talking about sex than actually having it.”
It’s one of my favourite lines because I’ve had so much fun throwing a wide range of both millennial and boomer characters into situations way out of their depth. I decided to create a scandalous and gently subversive romp to ask us to consider if expanding our ideas about family, relationships and sex might crack open other possibilities: how we organize our lives, housing and economies.
Huge congrats to the other wonderful finalists, Christine Quintana and John Lazarus, and to all the applicants–you all rock.
And big thanks to the Stratford Festival where this play has been in development, especially my dramaturg Bob White for believing in me and this unconventional play, my fantastic cultural and other script consultants, including Carmen Aguirre, Beryl Bain, Afi Browne,Jasmine Chen, Derek Kwan, Chanelle Gallant, Tom Malleson, Donna-Michelle St.Bernard, Dr Indigo Willing and others, the many actors who have workshopped the script, and the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council for development funding. And many thankyou to the Playwrights Guild of Canada, Chris Tolley and Dharini Woollcombe for sponsoring the award.
EVERY LITTLE NOOKIE premieres at the Stratford Festival this year (running June 18-Oct 1) - can't wait!