Robert Chafe is an award winning playwright whose work has been seen across Canada, the UK, and Australia.
Two of his plays (“Tempting Providence” and “Butler’s Marsh”), “were shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Drama. His play “Afterimage” won the award in 2010.
Robert is Artistic Director and playwright for Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland, where he frequently collaborates with NAC English Theatre Artistic Director Jillian Keiley.
In the podcast we discuss his transition from playwriting to writing a collection of short stories.
Robert shares his experience seeing his plays on stage and watching the audiences’ reaction to them.
He mentions that observing audiences has lead him to understand that “how I feel about my work actually has nothing to do with how an audience is going to experience it.”
Robert’s collection of short stories “Two-Man Tent” on Amazon.
Robert Chafe on Twitter.
Artistic Fraud of Newfoundland’s website.
Irene Sankoff and David Hein, the co-writers of the hit Broadway show “Come From Away,” are my guests on this podcast.
Irene and David, went from producing a playful musical at the Toronto Fringe Festival to creating “Come From Away.”
Their Fringe show, “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding,” attracted the attention of producer David Mirvish who brought it from the Fringe to a larger theatre.
Mirvish also discovered “The Drowsy Chaperone” at the Toronto Fringe, so the pressure for “Wiccan Wedding” to succeed was high. Things went well with that production and soon they were working on “Come From Away.”
“Come From Away” is a musical set in the town of Gander, Newfoundland, in the week following the September 11 attacks, when 38 planes were ordered to land unexpectedly in the small town.
The people of Gander opened their homes and their hearts to the thousands of travelers, from all over the world, who were stranded.
In the podcast Irene and David explain how their creative process began with a trip to Gander, Newfoundland to interview the town’s people and collect true stories that became the foundation for the musical.
They explain the development process, that included meaningful workshops with theatre students at The Canadian Music Theatre Project, at Sheridan College, and Goodspeed Musicals a non-profit organization dedicated to musical theater based in Connecticut.
The students at both locations worked on the script and Irene & David discuss how significant this process was to shaping the show.
In the podcast we talk about the sweet spot between David’s love of folk music and Irene’s love of Broadway musicals.
This intersection is reflected in NPR’s “First Listen” review of the “Come From Away Original Broadway Cast Recording:”
“While the rock influences (or at least the Broadway-rock influences) of “Come From Away” make it feel firmly like a modern piece, there is an echo in the story of classic American musical theater – specifically, “Brigadoon.”
Click for the “Come From Away,” Original Broadway Cast Recording
On opening night Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau attended the show and met with Irene and David.
Click the arrow near the top of this page, or this iTunes link, to listen to this podcast about “Come From Away.”
In 1985 Brooke Johnson met Pierre Elliott Trudeau at a gala event at the National Theatre School where she was an acting student.
It had been a year and a half since he’d stepped down as Prime Minister.
Brooke is an award winning actor who, when she was in her teens, launched her career by working as a production assistant at the Shaw Festival, often driving actors to and from Toronto.
Brooke has an expansive career, but I decided to focus our chat on her solo performance “Trudeau Stories.”
When she met Trudeau at the National Theatre School of Canada they shared a dance and their cheek to cheek moment sparked a relationship that lasted years. Brooke documented the relationship with Trudeau in a journal and in 2007 created the solo performance “Trudeau Stories” for Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival.
We talk about her time with Trudeau and how she developed the solo show.