One for the Road: New Plays for One Actor

One for the Road: New Plays for One Actor

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About the book

One for the Road is a collection of recent Canadian plays for one actor. Often written and produced for touring and festivals, plays for one performer offer unusual challenges and benefits for both sides of the theatrical event: actor, and audience. The plays in this volume come from writers across the country, and have been road-tested in a variety of venues, from main stage to fringe, and other stops along the way.

What is most exciting about a play for one actor? Often, it’s the wonderfully intense storytelling that takes place, sometimes it’s a bravura performance. Many actors create their own one-person scripts, which are then extremely portable and self-sufficient for touring. Sometimes a one-person play arises from a personal experience — a kind of living, breathing memoir — one that the artist shapes and hones to express an important discovery or a burning question. In all cases, solo plays draw their audiences deep inside a theatrical expression, an individual vision. Laugh, cry, get angry, be moved by the strong stories in this exciting collection.

The anthology will be of particular interest to students and teachers looking for current, challenging scene work for young actors, as well as to actors searching for the perfect solo piece. Included in the volume are interviews with the playwrights, in which they discuss the creative process of writing and of producing the work.

Included are:

Nggrfg by Berend McKenzie

Cassandra by Briana Brown

Dianne & Me by Ron Fromstein

All My Day Jobs by Kirsten Van Ritzen

Dear Penthouse by Collin Doyle

Sunnyside Café by Pam Calabrese Maclean

About the authors

Brown, Briana

Originally from rural Ontario, Briana spent several years in Toronto after graduating from York University (B.A. Honours, Theatre Studies). Her plays have been workshopped through Factory Theatre’s LabCab Festival, Tarragon Theatre’s Spring Arts Fair, Nightwood Theatre’s Write from the Hip program, and the TheatreKairos writers’ circle, where she subsequently took on the role of Program Director. She was commissioned by SeriousFUN! Theatre Company in 2009 to develop a script based on the experiences of the ten young women in their Going Pro program, entitled The Line. Also a theatre director, she directed her most recent play, Almost, Again (Toronto Fringe, Best of Fringe, 2010) which was included in the anthology Out on a Limb, edited by Kit Brennan (Signature Editions). She has directed productions at Theatre Passe Muraille’s Buzz Festival, the Next Stage Festival, as well as the Paprika Festival’s Tenth Anniversary Celebration (2010), The Vagina Monologues (V-Day Toronto, 2009) and assisted Brad Fraser on the Canadian premiere of True Love Lies (Factory Theatre).

McKenzie, Berend

Berend McKenzie is an award-winning actor, writer, and producer, who currently lives in Vancouver, BC. His first play, the outrageous queer puppet show for adults, Get Off the Cross, Mary! premiered at the 2006 Edmonton International Fringe Festival, and won the Hero Award winner for Best Live Performance 2008. As an actor, Berend has worked with Oscar winners Halle Berry and Angelina Jolie.

MacLean, Pam Calabrese

Pam Calabrese MacLean’s writing for the stage includes Her Father’s Barn (Atlantic Fringe Festival (NS) 2001; Festival Antigonish Late Night (NS) 2002; London Fringe (ON) 2005; Liverpool International Play Festival  (NS) 2006; Uno Festival (BC) 2007; Mulgrave Theatre (NS) 2008; King’s Theatre (NS) 2010), Is it Wednesday? (King’s  Shorts (NS) 2010; Six Women International Playwriting Festival Colorado (US) 2011; Theatre Antigonish (NS) 2012, and Awake (King’s  Shorts (NS) 2009; Theatre Antigonish (NS) 2012. MacLean is also the author of two poetry books and two children’s books. She lives in Nova Scotia.

Van Ritzen, Kirsten

Kirsten Van Ritzen is a professional actor who has received acclaim for performances across Canada. She has written sitcom, sketch, stand-up and several solo shows, and has two full-length dramas in the works. She is the author of a novel, The Comedy Diva Diaries, and is Executive Producer of the TV series The Broad Comedy Room. Kirsten is a member of the Playwrights Guild of Canada and Writers Guild of Canada, as well as UBCP/ACTRA and CAEA. She lives in Victoria, BC.

Doyle, Collin

Collin Doyle is an Edmonton based writer. His play The Mighty Carlins premiered at Workshop West in January of 2008. Nakai Theatre in Whitehorse produced a second production in the spring of 2009. Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon produced a third production in February of 2012. The Mighy Carlins was the winner of the Discovery Category of the Alberta Playwriting Competition in 2004, and received the Sterling Award for Outstanding New Play in 2008. His play for teens, Routes, premiered in the fall of 2009. Concrete Theatre toured Routes to high school audiences in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario. Routes received a Sterling Award for Outstanding Production for Young Audiences; it also received a Dora Award for Outstanding Production for Young Audiences.  His play Slumberland Motel won the main category of the Alberta Playwriting Competition in 2006. His plays Dear Penthouse and Nighthawk Rules (with James Hamilton) were critical and popular successes at the Edmonton Fringe in 2004 and 2005.  Nighthawk Rules received two Sterling Awards for Outstanding Fringe Production and Outstanding New Fringe Work. His new play, Let the Light of Day Through, won the Alberta Playwriting Competition in 2012. Theatre Network in Edmonton will produce Let the Light of Day Through in the spring of 2013.  Collin is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada.

Fromstein, Ron

Ron Fromstein is a largely self-taught playwright from Toronto. He is a three-time winner of the Canadian National Playwriting Competition (2006, 2007, and 2009) and six-time winner-finalist of the Toronto Fringe 24 hour playwriting competition. Other works include Just Us, The Big Smoke, and One in a Million (a micromusical).  

About the editor

Editor Kit Brennan is an award-winning playwright whose work has been seen across the country. She is a faculty member at Concordia University’s Theatre Department in Montreal, where she coordinates the undergraduate playwriting specialization.

Excerpt

from Introduction by Kit Brennan

Plays for one actor are all about storytelling. As audience member, you become intrigued with the character on stage. Over the course of the evening, this character may play several or even many different characters while telling his or her story, but this world of people and events still appears before you in the body of one actor.
For this anthology, I read approximately sixty plays, and difficult decisions had to be made by the time I decided on a short list. Finally, I let the aspect of storytelling guide me. In its simplest form, storytelling is a low-tech art form. You have a teller, and an audience, and a story, and in the space where those three things connect, curiosity and enchantment grow. The teller shares a vision, the audience joins in and enhances that vision through their own imaginations, and the story takes everyone on a journey or a quest. It’s continuous and doesn’t let up until the story concludes and the teller drops you back onto the earth in a slightly different place than you were before. Even with all of the theatrical bells and whistles of design, light, sound and costumes, a play for one actor is still (mostly) about story.
These six plays are about characters looking into their pasts — literally stepping back into them, in many cases — in order to create (or recreate) a better present. Looking to their families for answers, or forgiveness, or for the strength to let go—or looking at themselves to get up and get out there, to change for the better. Some of them manage it, and some don’t. A strong sense of humour enlivens many of these plays; a number of them also reveal deep sadness. Important issues are explored: sexuality, inter-racial adoption, teenage pregnancy, unemployment. Two are focused on mothers and daughters; one deals poignantly with a father and son. One play features a young girl almost too smart for her own good, wrestling with parents; another is of a young woman wrestling with jobs; and one is of a man wrestling with a fantasy that clashes with reality.
The writers come from all across Canada: Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Antigonish. As suits the title of the collection, the scripts have been road-tested on stages large and small in almost every province, and in some cases, the playwrights are also the performers. Berend McKenzie’s Nggrfg has been produced at Young People’s Theatre in Toronto, and he has just returned from a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Briana Brown has performed Cassandra at fringe festivals in London, Ottawa, Victoria and Vancouver; Ron Fromstein’s Dianne & Me has won three playwriting competitions, and been seen in Vancouver, Stratford, Toronto, and Hamilton. Kirsten van Ritzen has performed All My Day Jobs in Victoria, Regina and Vancouver; Collin Doyle performed Dear Penthouse at the Edmonton Fringe, and Pam McLean’s Sunnyside Café has had a main stage production at Ship’s Company Theatre in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, and also played in Halifax and Goose Bay.
This collection is designed for those seeking new voices and new work for a solo actor. Should you wish to produce any of these plays, please remember that they are fully protected by copyright; see page 6, Information on Producing. The individual playwrights can be contacted through the particular addresses found on that page. I hope you enjoy the work!
I’d like to thank my partner, Andrew Willmer, for his stalwart assistance with this collection. A big thank you, too, to Samantha Beiko at Signature Editions, for keeping it all moving ahead smoothly.

— Kit Brennan,
Theatre Department, Concordia University,
Montreal, Quebec


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