Written by Robin Taylor Wright
I used to tour with a band across Canada and the northern states. My main source of inspiration was Michael Azzerad’s Our Band Could Be Your Life, extracting the most useful instances of DIY (do-it-yourself) touring; for example, you (try to) play every city in which you make your stop, eating out of grocery stores (I embraced the hummus and cucumber sandwich), and keeping your accommodation budget at zero (travel beds can be very comfy). Who would’ve thought that I would keep these tools for my subsequent adventure as a playwright.
When I started writing plays, I felt that I was at the mercy of someone else’s go-ahead - like, oh gosh, I really hope so-and-so likes my script so it can be financed. However, as I recalled my earlier music days, I said “fuck it, I’m going to hit the road with this piece”.
That said, it was a combination of connections, hard work, and fluke that Home for Boys needed in order to be ‘road ready’. Having a creative group of friends at Glass Reflections willing to take a risk on my work is an invaluable thing to me. However, this is not because of this urge to ‘make it big’, but cherishing being a part of a collective grassroots artistic organization. After the incredibly executed show closed in July, I decided to head west.
Renting out the basement of a converted church - which is now called the Refinery - I used one of my Saskatoon connections to help me meet other amazing local actors; I always made sure to only hire local as not only would it help me hear the characters read differently, but to attract a local crowd - not unlike opening for a local band in every city in order to introduce yourself to the ‘scene’. The four readers I chose, mostly on blind faith, exceeded my expectations, put on a great show, and met some wonderful friends for life.
In Vancouver, I booked an evening at Cafe Deux Soleils, where I played a few times before. The owner thought it would be a novel approach to start entertaining live play readings. Although the crowd was a bit smaller, I could tell that this was a change in the cafe’s usual routine that really stood out. Plus, my readers once again were having a wonderful time, despite the fact that Staples completely pooched my photocopies and thus had a script malfunction.
I thank Glass Reflections and UC Follies for taking on my new script. I would like to continue this travelling playwright thing if I get the time and money for it. I encourage anyone to create more and more of their own work on a shoestring budget. Stop waiting for someone to validate you. If I can, anyone can. Theatre could use a little ‘less is more’ punk rock approach to start breaking down some walls. It keeps theatre from being this pretentious ‘high art’ that bores people. I hope to do my part.