Author: nbacts2013

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.

A Q&A with playwright Sophie Tremblay-Pitre

Sophie Tremblay-Pitre makes her festival debut this year with two of her own plays being performed this week.

Sophie is a recent UNB graduate in Biology and Theatre. She has worked on many Fredericton theatre productions for Theatre UNB, NotaBle Acts, and Bard in the Barracks, most recently as a crew member for The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble and as Dr. Quack in The Country Wife. Ghost Writer and With Love, Josephine are the first two plays she has written, and she is very excited to invite you into the worlds she has created.

What’s it like having two of your plays included in this year’s festival?

I am very excited to have both my plays being included in the festival. It is a little terrifying because it’s a completely new experience, but I can’t wait to see what they look like on stage!

I am super happy to be so involved in NotaBle Acts this year.

Can you explain your playwriting background?

My playwriting background is of one class taken with Len Falkenstein in the fall of 2018, during which both plays were written and workshopped. Before that I had read many plays, and even more books, but I had never written anything beyond research papers.

How helpful has the festival process been for developing your skills as a writer and to that point, how have your plays developed through the process?

Working with Rob Kempson, the directors (Hannah Blizzard and Austin Taylor), and the actors has helped me develop the scripts in ways I could not have imagined. I can confidently say that the plays being produced in the festival are not the same as the ones I submitted to the contest in the spring. I’ve gained a much better understanding of the characters and storylines thanks to everyone’s insight and interpretation, and working with Rob has specifically helped me understand the choices that my characters make and why they make them.

What other play are you most excited to see/experience at this year’s festival?

All the plays look very exciting this year! I have already seen Fruit Machine, which I thought was very touching, and the choreography was excellent. I’m especially excited to see Gullywhump, because the story intrigues me and the set pieces that I’ve seen look really great. I also love to watch the site-specific plays, which allows us to see theatre in a completely different environment than what we’re used to.

Catch a performance of Sophie’s work:

Ghostwriter

What does a caffeine-addled second year Creating Writing student need to do for a good idea? Commune with long-dead relatives of course! A ghost can be a great teacher, about your past and your present.

Ghostwriter will be featured as one of four 10 minutes plays included in this year’s Taking It To The Streets series running July 29, August 1 and 2 at Cafe Beaverbrook (12-1 p.m.) and July 30-31 at Cafe Beaverbrook (7:30-8:30 p.m.)

With Love, Josephine

In a story touching on generational rifts and Canada’s divisions across class and language, a young woman learns that society and the heart rarely see eye-to-eye. Through a long-forgotten diary, she finds that her grandmother lived a parallel life, and though decades apart, takes heart from the knowledge that she is not alone.

With Love, Josephine is one of two one-act plays featured in this year’s Acting Out series which runs August 1-3 | 7:30 p.m., Memorial Hall, UNB  – 9 Bailey Drive. Tickets at the door or reserve by emailing nbacts@unb.ca; $15 regular, $10 student/senior/underemployed.