A Q&A with playwright Kaitlyn Adair

Photo by Claire Fraser

Kaitlyn Adair is a Fredericton based writer, director and performer. She has written several short films including Oculus, Together We Move, and March 2.4 which won Excellence in Screenwriting at Silver Wave Film Festival. I Hope you Can See the Birds is her first project as a playwright which was hatched during the Notable Acts Incubator Program and had a showcase reading at the Fall Festival of New Plays with Theatre New Brunswick in 2021. Kaitlyn has a love of surrealism and highlighting underrepresented voices in the visual arts.

Let’s learn more.

Can you take us through the life of this play so far? When did you start writing it? 

I started writing this play two years ago. I spent the first months imagining the world of this play from various images I pulled from real life. The pen to paper writing began with an incubator program last year hosted by Anthony Bryan with Notable acts. Then it was accepted to the Fall Festival of New Plays with Theatre New Brunswick for a week of workshopping and a play reading. I then revisited and fine tuned the play during the writing rooms again hosted by Anthony Bryan. 

What type of development/dramaturg opportunities were you able to access in creating I Hope You Can See The Birds?

Well it’s had two goes with formal dramaturgy. The first was with TNB through the Fall Festival in 2021. I worked with Eric Coates, Jena McLean and a cast of actors for a week on really refining the arch of the story. A bulk of the play as it is today was written during that week. Through notable acts I worked with Matthew Heiti through phone calls and drafts sent back and forth. This was where a lot of refinement happened to the story. I think it’s important to mention the informal mentorship that went into this piece from other theatre artists. Anthony Bryan was crucial in creating space for this work to come to life and for writing/new play development as a whole. I also worked closely in early stages of development with Esther Soucoup who helped me discover the critical why of the play while evaluating story/character arcs. 

If you had to describe your play in one minute or less, how would you describe it to a potential audience member?

I Hope You Can See the Birds is a love letter to my grandfather. It’s a surrealist exploration about a man coming to terms with his own mortality while facing the greatest loss of his life, bringing his wife of 65 years to a nursing home.  The play centres around Bryan, a senior in the hospital after a near fatal heart attack, who is refusing life saving treatment without explanation as to why. With his daughter and granddaughter trying to get to the bottom of things by his side, Bryan experiences the comforting allure of death through visions of a hummingbird at his bedside. Ultimately, Bryan must make the choice to answer the call of the hummingbird or have the test his family wants him to take. More than anything this play is about love. It’s beauty, it’s hardships, and how hard we sometimes hold onto it. 

Kaitlyn’s play will be performed as a double bill (w/ Murder Mondays) from July 28-30, 7:30 p.m., nightly, at Memorial Hall, UNB (9 Bailey Drive). Tickets available at the door for 15$ regular, 10$ senior/student/underwaged.

I Hope You Can See The Birds by Kaitlyn Adair | Directed by Alex Rioux | Featuring John Macaulay, Dani Brun, Circe Cain, Julie MacDonald, and Devin Rockwell.

A Q&A with playwright Sana Hashmat

Sana Hashmat is a writer based in New Brunswick working towards a degree in biology. She has been a part of the NotaBle Acts Playwriting Incubator over the past year and made her festival debut last year with her script, Ill-Advised Capital. Sana is back once again with her latest script, A Toast to Happiness.

Welcome back Sana! Can you bring our audience up to speed on your NotaBle Acts history?

I debuted last year at NotaBle Acts with my play Ill-Advised Capital which was a part of the Play Out Loud: Reading of New Plays in Development series. It was a very exciting experience, although I assume it will be distinctly different from my current play in terms of the actors acting out the actions and not reading from a script.

How does it feel to be involved with this year’s festival?

I love being part of a community of playwrights and actors who are passionate about their craft. I always learn something new just from talking to them and honing in insight into their individual personalities and mental landscapes. Even the audience serves their purpose by taking something from our local artistry and carrying it with them wherever they go.

If you had to describe your play in one minute or less, how would you pitch A Toast to Happiness to a potential audience member?

Imagine you’re getting married. It’s the happiest moment of your life. But wait, this is it? Panic. Anxiety. Fear. Things you want to talk about but you can’t over coffee. Nobody understands. But how can’t they understand this universal experience? Is it universal? Ad nauseum. You’re allowed to be scared, anxious, sardonic, but in the end, that happiness you’re trying to find, maybe you’ll start here in this one play. 

What was your inspiration for writing this play?

I was watching a video and it was a short script that looped. I was obsessed with the looping script concept so I started from there. We all have recurring thoughts, usually based on fear and anxiety. What’s one that’s practically universal? Happiness. And when are you usually the happiest? At your own wedding, marrying the love of your life (hopefully). And there, I scribbled the script down and the rest is history.

Could you comment on the important role NotaBle Acts plays in supporting new and emerging writers like yourself?

NotaBle Acts brings a sense of intimacy among playwrights and actors alike. I’ve always admired that in New Brunswick, we have individuals who contribute such diverse perspectives and thoughts that translate into art that can be admired and preserved. I’m always enthused to see engagement from everyone involved and building a sense of comradery amongst the talent I meet.

Sana’s play A Toast to Happiness will be one of two plays featured in this year’s Site-Specific series of pay-what-you-can outdoor performances. Catch a performance July 24-27 beginning near the Beaverbrook Art Gallery Courtyard at 8:30 p.m.

A Toast to Happiness by Sana Hashmat | Directed by Scott Harris | Featuring Jason Crow and Landon Hachey.