On Friday, March 16th at 7:30 pm, the Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre (PARC) is hosting its annual fundraiser – Salon du Parc – at the Women’s Council House in Halifax. PARC is Atlantic Canada’s hub for supporting playwrights in their craft. Arts East recently chatted with renowned playwright and radio dramatist Wendy Lill, who will be headlining Friday night’s reception.
AE: How have you been involved with PARC throughout the years?WL: I have been a member of PARC probably since its beginnings and have also served on the Board of Directors. I’ve also had the privilege of working with Jenny Munday, PARC’s artistic director in many capacities over the years, including as an actor.
AE: How does PARC play a role in supporting emerging and established playwrights?WL: The thing I admire and appreciate the most about PARC is that it’s an organization helping individual playwrights practise their art in Atlantic Canada. It does so with little money but with great conviction. PARC runs programs to assist playwrights in everything from the outline stage to play readings to playwright colonies where writers can work with professional directors in making their plays stage ready.
AE: At this week’s Salon, with numerous people reading from your works, will there be a broad range of your plays represented?WL: At the Salon, I am looking forward to hearing some incredible actors (some of whom have acted in the original productions) read from The Fighting Days, The Occupation of Heather Rose, All Fall Down, Corker and Glace Bay Miners’ Museum. These plays span, I hate to admit, a thirty-year span of writing. I’m still wondering when it is going to get any easier.
AE: What has been some of the highlights of your successful playwriting/literary career?WL: I have been honoured to be nominated four times for the Governor General’s Award for drama and have had my plays staged many times across the country as well as internationally. Last month, The Fighting Days, written in 1983, about Francis Beynon and Nellie McClung and their efforts to gain the vote for women, was remounted at the Manitoba Theatre Centre. Corker, a play about a stressed out civil servant and a mentally challenged young man looking for a home, was staged again, thirteen years after its premiere by The Theatre Arts Guild in Halifax. I care about the stories I write and so it’s great to see they still have life and relevance many years on. None of my plays would have been possible without the collaboration of such fine artistic directors as Mary Vingoe and the actors who have brought the characters to life.
AE: Have your political and literary talents ever merged into one project or piece?WL: I think all of my work is kind of political but since I was a Member of Parliament (1997-2004) I have written one pretty ‘political’ play about Ottawa and the media and a bunch of other unrelated things (Chimera). I also created and co-wrote a radio drama series for CBC radio called Backbencher and I worked on that with the wonderful Peggy Hemsworth (CBC radio producer) and over 20 incredible actors from Halifax/Dartmouth.
AE: What are you working on now?WL: I am working on a new project that may or may not turn into anything. But I am enjoying myself! Sort of. Some of the time. That’s really all you can expect from writing!
AE: Any final words about Friday’s Salon du Parc?WL: I am happy to hear there is going to be a good turnout at the Salon to raise money to continue the good work of PARC. I hope people enjoy the evening at the Women’s Council House, one of the most historic and lovely homes in all of Halifax. See you there.