Say What?

Spilling Tea

I sip green tea in the morning.

I've been in Stratford for one week. Anxious about how the change to my schedule would affect my mood I had been alternately excited and apprehensive about leaving Toronto for three months. I have left my home for that much time before, when I was on tour with various plays, but that was different. I was on the road in a new place every few days. This would be a complete upheaval of my very regimented routine that, while boring, was familiar. 

A year ago when I came up with the idea of taking a break from Toronto I was aggravated with everything. Stagnating, as well. I became a producer by accident and I seemed to have a knack for it. After producing my third indie show I wanted to learn something new. I figured the best place to learn was outside of my comfort zone and in a new place. My routine of gym-coffee-read-waffle over what to do-see a play-go to bed late was tedious.  

I get up early. 

I sit in my lovely place in Stratford and read the plentiful Facebook and Twitter posts about the plays I just 'have to see': Bang Bang; Jerusalem; Rhubarb; Cottagers & Indians; etc….but I can’t ,because I’m too far away to travel there and back in one evening. I’m learning to stop feeling guilty about missing plays because, try as you might, you're going to miss something. Besides, I’m on the Dora jury for the Indie category; I see plenty. 

I’m trying to drink less alcohol. 

I don’t make new year’s resolutions because I feel that quitting is almost a given. I am someone who cooks almost all of my meals, goes the gym regularly, calls her parents every week, and tries to keep her head above water as a writer/producer. I deserve a glass of wine at 5. But, lately I’ve been looking forward to a glass of wine the way normal people look forward to the weekend. I resolved that Stratford would be the impetus to change my routine; no more drinking. Ridiculous. There’s an LCBO across the street from my condo in Stratford. I bought my favourite: Small Gully Mr. Black’s Little Book Shiraz, and some McClelland that was on sale. No regrets. Then I went out for fried chicken at Laotian hotspot, Lauhaus, on Downie Street, since they would be closing for good the next day. It was delicious. 

Food Poisoning Can Change Your Perspective 

There are a lot of thoughts that run through your mind when you’re hunched over on the subway, traveling west on the Bloor line, covered in a thin coating of sweat, nauseas and trying not to poop yourself. One is: this is too nice a coat to have an accident and the other is, I really hope it wasn’t the fried chicken. Three hours later, prostrate and tired from illness, in my pretty condo all I can consume is tea. The next few days all I put in my body is broth, water, plain crackers, and green tea. I glare at the bottle wine, shudder at the idea of the McClelland, and stay away from all things dairy. When I woke up on Tuesday morning the sun was blazing, it was five degrees, and I felt less burdened than I’d been in months. The pressure I have put on myself is lifting and I think I may be freer than ever.

Growing up in London Ontario was difficult as a little black girl

In July 2016 I was asked to write a short essay about being a black writer in Canada. As it is Black History Month and I'm still a writer it feels fitting to post this on my website.

Thank you Michael Wheeler and Sarah Garton Stanley for giving me this opportunity.




Aint That Something?

I always wanted to be a writer and then I was but had no idea what that really meant. I always thought I'd write fiction. Novels and short stories were the goal. I was asked by many why I didn't write plays and I always said, 'I don't know how to write plays; I was never taught'. And that is true. 

I went to theatre school to be an actor. I trained at Sheridan College and University of Toronto and, at the time, there was not a playwriting course. Besides, I had no illusions about being a playwright. The only reason I wrote a play was because I had a friend transitioning from male to female and had an incredible life story that I believed should be written down. She said, 'Go ahead, I give you my blessing,' and that is how Damaged was born.

The problem was I am not a member of the LGBTQ community and not transgender. The play had a couple of readings at bcurrent but when I attempted to get interest elsewhere I was roundly criticised for telling a story that was not mine. This was in 2012. Transparent, Transamerica, and Orange is the New Black were not in existence yet. I was defiant, at first, because I believed I was telling a very important story. Alas, it was not my story. It was my friend, Lillian's story, and she had moved to another part of the country and could not care less about what was happening in Toronto. 

Lillian found Toronto a hostile place for transwomen in 2010 and couldn't wait to leave. My play was supposed to illuminate those who didn't know how great the trans community was in our city. I gave up trying to produce that play many years ago because there were plenty of trans actors who could tell that story better than me.

I'll never forget the blistering letter I received from Yvette Nolan that basically said, 'how dare you?!' and Sky Gilbert gently coaxing me to move on to another play. In retrospect I'm glad I was schooled in 'appropriation' since writing at the time was so new to me. I moved on to write a different play that I titled Eating Pomegranates Naked and the genesis of that piece is just as interesting as the birth of Damaged. Hopefully I'll remember to write about that tomorrow. Let's just say that there's a goldmine of ideas in your daily newspaper. Inspiration is everywhere; take it from someone who was named when her father found the name Andrea on a piece of garbage in a TTC subway car. True story.

Why Not?

I have been told for years that I should have a blog. I have resisted since I really don't think that I have that much to say about an industry that I am still figuring out. But, I think this is going to be an interesting year and this would be an ideal place to capture the ups and downs and ins and outs. I was pretty sure that blogs were no longer a THING but, alas, they are. So, I am going to do my darndest to write a little something about being a writer, a producer, and an occasional actor in this city called Toronto.

Let's start with something banal: a rejection. I applied for a residency at a major theatre company, made it to round three (there are four) and was sent a brief 'not gonna happen' email. I was strangely non-plussed. I'd applied for the same residency the year before and gotten all the way to the minotaur but was roundly defeated. A year later, I figured, I knew what I was doing and applied again. But the circumstances of my life had changed since January 2017, I was feeling good about the adventures of 2018, and I wasn't entirely sure I loved the theatre company as much as I used to; it was definitely like when a boyfriend hints at marriage and you realize that you hate their weak chin. I mean, can I continue to look at that weak chin for the rest of my life and not want it to change? Probably not. So, shortly after jumping the third hurdle I gently divorced myself from wanting the residency. Oh, don't get me wrong, it stung to be summarily dismissed, because, I love being wanted. But...I wanted to be TRULY wanted and I that was not the vibe I'd been getting for awhile. Besides, you know that saying, 'when God closes a door, he opens a window?' (is that right? Because I'd think opening a window after shutting a door in my face is asking for a felony to occur...but  digress). Anyway, right after I was told no from one company I got an enthusiastic, welcoming hug from another hours later. Our industry is like the weather in Calgary, don't like it, just wait, it's bound to change to something very interesting and unexpected.