A Q&A with playwright Carlee Calver

Carlee Calver makes her NotaBle Acts debut this year with her play, A Coward-Bird’s Song. This site-specific play will take place Tuesday and Wednesday outside the Café Beaverbrook. One of downtown Fredericton’s famous willow trees will provide the background and the staging for this unique performance.

Carlee is an emerging writer, playwright, screenwriter, poet, and filmmaker. She is a recent grad from the Media Arts and Cultures program at the University of New Brunswick where she won the 2018 Muriel Miller Award in creative writing for her undergraduate work in poetry and playwriting. This fall, Carlee will be returning to UNB as a Master’s Candidate for the English MA in Creative Writing. Having mostly written for the screen, A Coward-Bird’s Song will be her debut work in NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival, as well as her first ever produced play.

What can you tell us about the idea behind your play A Coward-Bird’s Song? Was it something you had been working on for a while or was it written specifically for the festival?

Originally, A Coward-Bird’s Song came from an idea I had for a three-part performance-art piece where, in bits and pieces, the audience is told the intimate story of a man and woman preparing to elope. Over the course of writing the piece, it somehow morphed into this short site-specific play right around the time of the NotaBle Acts Playwriting Competition deadline, so I took the plunge and wrote up a quick draft for the competition. Fortunately they really liked the idea, and from then on I worked with Len [Falkenstein] and Rob [Kempson] doing rewrites and fleshing out the story.

What has it been like working with Len on this as the director for your first NotaBle Acts play?

It’s great to have someone as competent and experienced in theatre as Len on your side. He’s also been great on the writing side of things in that he allows you to talk out your idea and find the answer for yourself, which I’ve really appreciated. I think that whole process has helped me a lot as a writer. I’ve had Len before as a writing professor at UNB so it has been really nice to work with him in this new way.

How has this year’s artist in residence Rob Kempson impacted your work?

I was able to attend his playwriting workshop which was very informative, and talk to him one-on-one during the festival. Before the festival, Rob would send me feedback on my script rewrites, which were always helpful and well thought out critiques. It’s been nice to have a writing mentor as great as Rob at my disposal.

Catch a performance of Carlee’s work:

A Coward-Bird’s Song

In a twilit fantasy about lost love and forlorn desire, taking flight amid the century old trees of downtown Fredericton, a ghost bird reflects on a life spent regretting the life she never lived.

July 30-31 | Willow Tree near the Beaverbrook Art Gallery | 8:30 p.m.

Admission by donation.

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