It isn't unusual for performers to begin writing their own work. "I used to act" is ordinarily the start to the candid biography of your average playwright. However, most of us regret our first project: The solo show we were meant to only debut in but later realized that no one else in the world could perform the piece because it is poorly written, ergo we move on to larger writing projects. If we fail (not everyone does but it's almost a right of passage), we do so because we forgot to approach playwriting as a medium-specific craft. Writing for the theatre means writing theatrically. It is therefore necessary to write with more than just the performer in mind, an exercise that newbie solo artists may forget to do. But, some people get it right. VERY right. REWARDINGLY right. One such person is Pamela Mala Sinha.
Hopefully you recognize Sinha from her most recent (2013) performance of Crash, her first piece, which championed a sold-out run at Theatre Passe Muraille in Toronto. If you missed it, you really missed it. Seamless, enchanting and yet horrifying, the piece investigates the post-traumatic stress of a victim of sexual violence. Based on personal experience, the show could have very easily fell into the "this-is-a-monologue-about-my-life-please-listen-while-I-cry-for-an-hour-on-stage" trap, but oh dear me no it absolutely didn't. The imagery and poeticism of the piece keeps it far from flat. This show is a story in full bloom and it requires a fully dedicated company, the attention of everyone working on it, to keep the production on par with the text. It is magic. It is necessarily heartbreaking. It is, simply, good writing. Not to mention, incredibly.
Tonight, Factory Theatre's Wired 14 series is featuring Sinha's newest piece Happy Place, a piece about six women who share their experiences suffering from depression. The piece serves as a companion piece to Crash. For her commitment to writing for women, about mental illness and with as much windy-whimsicality as possible, we appreciate Pamela Mala Sinha as today's playwright of the day.
For information on tonight's reading click here.