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Finding New Ways To Collaborate
Photo by Leif Norman features Kathleen MacLean, Hera Nalam, Alissa Watson, and Reena Jolly in Torn Through Time. Directed by Ann Hodges, set, costume, and props design by Robin Fisher, lighting design by Dean Cowieson.

Finding New Ways to Collaborate

In the spirit of PACTcon2019 – A Work in Progress, we asked our members for stories of transformations in their company’s practice.

By Katie German, Artistic Associate, Manitoba Theatre for Young People

When we got the email to speak about a transformation in MTYP’s artistic practise, our Artistic Director Pablo Felices-Luna and I brainstormed.

As wrapped up our season, we celebrated our final week of the spring tour of our premiere production of Torn Through Time by Carrie Costello, Frances Koncan, and Cherissa Richards. Torn Through Time has a special place in our hearts because it was the first homegrown, new play in development brought to production since Pablo arrived in our building back in 2014.

This project was especially unique in the way that it was developed. The play was co-written by three playwrights who were all at very different phases of their playwriting careers: one just starting out as a playwright, one a mid-career playwright and one fairly established playwright.

Photo by Leif Norman features Kathleen MacLean, Hera Nalam, Alissa Watson, and Reena Jolly in Torn Through Time. Directed by Ann Hodges, set, costume, and props design by Robin Fisher, lighting design by Dean Cowieson.
Photo by Leif Norman features Kathleen MacLean, Hera Nalam, Alissa Watson, and Reena Jolly in Torn Through Time. Directed by Ann Hodges, set, costume, and props design by Robin Fisher, lighting design by Dean Cowieson.

The collaboration process was developed, dramaturged and guided by the director of the show. All three of the playwrights went through the normal process of writing, blowing-up and rewriting but the biggest challenge was trying to find time where all three could work together on the pieces that they needed to. Each one of the playwrights were extremely busy trying to maintain their other artistic endeavours (teaching, producing, and performing) while completing the script. There were times when each of the playwrights were in different parts of Canada corresponding with each other (and us) by whatever means necessary to confirm edits and re-writes.  Even in the final phases of production, we were still trying to figure out the best way to confirm last minute dialogue changes as they came up.

In the end, the most exciting thing that MTYP discovered was that a play written by three playwrights is in fact possible, as long as there is a ton of open dialogue by all of the collaborators. Now that the script is in its first production draft, we also cannot wait to see how this particular show grows and changes in the coming years.

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