Thiessen play premieres on Theatre Collingwood stage 0
Playwright Vern Thiessen and Theatre Collingwood artistic director Steven Thomas during a workshop session in May for Thiessen's Do Not Disturb.
I was very privileged this week to get the opportunity to interview Vern Thiessen, one of the most produced playwrights to come out of Canada.
Vern’s plays have been seen all across Canada, the United Kingdom, the Middle East, and the United States. One of Vern’s most recent works is about to have its world premier on the Theatre Collingwood stage, on Monday at 8 p.m. at The Gayety Theatre.
Do Not Disturb is a three-person farce-style comedy that contrasts technological advancements against traditional human needs for commitment, love, and revenge.
Vern, who was in New York on business, was kind enough to set some time aside and answer a few questions for the lovely readers of the Enterprise Bulletin. Here is the interview:
Is this the first time you have ever been commissioned to write a play? How did that come about?
I have spent most of my career working on commission. What was special about this one is that it was a full on, full length farce, which I had never written.
What is it like to write a commissioned piece versus writing based on your own desire?
When you write on a commission, you are taking into account things you may not otherwise: the theatre, the audience for that theatre, the budget (which determines cast size) and sometimes the actors you may be writing for.
Take me through your writing process.
That demands a very long answer. But in brief, it normally takes me somewhere between two and five years to write a play. In this case, I wrote it in a less than a year!
Do you think that you would have written “Do Not Disturb” if it hadn’t been commissioned?
I wrote a short version of the play for a theatre in Calgary several years ago (very different play from this; but same basic premise) But no, if Collingwood had not approached me to write a comedy, i wouldn’t have touched it.
Is this the first time that you have had one of your plays put on by Theatre Collingwood?
You split your time between Canada and New York, what are the differences between living and working in Canada versus living and working in the States?
What are the challenges that come along with writing a three-person farce-style comedy?
Farces are very difficult to write because if no one’s laughing it becomes immediately obvious you’ve failed. Tragedy is more forgiving.
You have worked and been produced all over the world, what do you think are the great things about the theatre industry in Canada, and what things do you think need to be improved?
A trend I am seeing in Canada now is that smaller theatres, community theatres and summer theatres are doing more and more Canadian work. And that is very encouraging.
What advice do you have for aspiring playwrights or artists in general?
Read plays. Watch plays. Write plays. Repeat.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I can’t wait to see the show on opening!
Thank you Vern, and me too!
If you are as excited to see Do Not Disturb as Vern and I are then I suggest picking up tickets for opening night while they are still available! You can purchase tickets at Theatre Collingwood’s Box Office located on 65 Simcoe Street which is open Monday to Friday, 11am until 3pm. You can also purchase tickets online at the official Theatre Collingwood website: www.theatrecollingwood.com, or by phone: 705-445-2200. Of course, you can also buy tickets at the door, starting at 7 pm, one hour before the show begins. If you can’t make it on Monday like Vern and I, you’re missing out on the party, but don’t fret! The play is running for one week,
If you have any questions or comments feel free to email me at email@example.com. Hope to see you Monday! Have a great weekend everyone!