Playwrights Reading Series continues to attract top-notch writers to campus

By Costa Maragos Posted: February 28, 2017 6:00 a.m.

Falen Johnson, whose play Salt Baby was performed at Regina’s Globe Theatre, will present her work at the Playwrights Reading Series, March 1 at the Classroom Building (CL 112) 8:00 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Falen Johnson, whose play Salt Baby was performed at Regina’s Globe Theatre, will present her work at the Playwrights Reading Series, March 1 at the Classroom Building (CL 112) 8:00 p.m. to 10 p.m. Photo courtesy of Liz Beddall.

The Theatre Department’s acclaimed Playwrights Reading Series continues to attract some of Saskatchewan’s and Canada’s finest writers, playwrights and performers.

The series is celebrating its 25th anniversary, making this Canada’s longest-running Playwrights Reading series. The latest to speak in the series is Falen Johnson, a writer, producer, dramaturge and actor.

Johnson’s first play, Salt Baby, was staged at Regina’s Globe Theatre in January 2017. It’s a story based on her experiences growing up on the Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario. Johnson is speaking Wednesday, March 1, at the Classroom Building (CL 112) from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Her talk is open to the public.

“We’re pleased to welcome Falen Johnson on campus to share her experiences with us,” says Mary Blackstone, professor Emerita in the U of R’s Department of Theatre.  

Mary Blackstone
Mary Blackstone is professor Emerita in the U of R’s Department of Theatre. U of R Photography
The theme for this year’s Playwrights Reading Series at the U of R is “Playwriting - A Risky Business.”

The impressive line-up of speakers has included:
  • Floyd Favel, Saskatchewan playwright and director.
  • Brad Fraser, nominated for the Governor-General’s Award for drama.
  • Cat Walsh, an Edmonton-based performer and playwright.
  • Alanis King, a playwright originally from the Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve and the only female Aboriginal graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada.
  • Colleen Murphy, 2016 Governor-General’s Award winner for drama.

“This is the most unique and original series of its kind in Canada,” says Murphy, who spoke on campus as part of this series in September 2016. “It’s always informative and very well attended. I have been invited three times and eagerly await a fourth.”

Murphy joins dozens of Canadian playwrights who have shared powerful readings and new dramatic works that have gone on to major productions and awards.  

“This series has given our students, local playwrights and members of the public amazing access and insight into what it takes to produce award-winning and critically-acclaimed Canadian productions,” says Blackstone.

The series is done in partnership with the Saskatchewan Writers Guild. It’s made possible thanks to funding from the City of Regina, the Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Writers Union of Canada and Canada Council. Recently, the Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan joined the sponsorship team by providing accommodation for the playwrights.
 
The latest to present is Falen Johnson, who is compiling an impressive resume. Her well-received play, Salt Baby, has toured across Canada. Her second play, Two Indians, recently debuted at The SummerWorks Performance Festival held in Toronto.

Johnson is a graduate of George Brown Theatre School and the former playwright in residence at Native Earth Performing Arts and Blyth Festival Theatre. She’s the recipient of the Ontario Arts Council’s Emerging Aboriginal Artist Award.

Johnson will also be one of the featured writers in the Saskatchewan Writers Guild’s Talking Fresh program held at the U of R Research and Innovation Centre Theatre (Rm 119) March 3 to 4, 2017.

Also featured:

  • George Elliott Clarke, former Poet Laureate of Toronto and recipient of the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry.
  • Sue Goyette, who is based in Halifax and has published five books of poems and a novel.
  • Eden Robinson, a Haisla /Heiltsuk author from Haisla, British Columbia. Her first book, Traplines, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1998.

“The Reading Series, and the workshops it has made possible, have been important in the development of the Saskatchewan and Canadian writers it has featured, but of equal importance has been its critical impact on the evolution of our local playwrights as well as the cultivation of an interest in new dramatic work within the community,” says Blackstone.

Playwrights Reading Series featuring Falen Johnson 

Date:  Wednesday, March 1
Time:   8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Venue: Classroom Building (CL 112) – Main Campus

Talking Fresh
When: March 3 – 4
Venue: Research and Innovation Centre Theatre (Rm 119)
For more information on the Talking Fresh program please visit here. 

The Playwrights Reading Series and Talking Fresh program are free and open to the public.