A Studio of One’s Own

Posted by
on April 15, 2013

As the Senior Playwright in Residence at this year’s Banff Playwrights Colony, I wasn’t sure exactly what this would entail. I have been lucky enough to come out to work at the Colony in past years, but never with a title.

And it turns out my own studio.

Inside the Evamy Studio, temporary home to 2013 Playwright in Residence Mieko Ouchi.

Upon arrival, Colony Director Brian Quirt and Associate Dramaturg Leora Morris handed me a key with a smile, and I knew I was in for something special. Studio #4... a beautiful space with expansive windows on four sides designed by the late Michael Evamy. The views? A tiny glen where deer come to nibble, and a lovely 100 foot pine with one particularly comfy branch that offers a local squirrel a good square-on view of his favorite TV show... me!

That first afternoon I discovered a small book that every artist who has stayed here has written in. Some have left lengthy descriptions of what they were working on, others marks have been more poetic. Always welcoming. Moving to see how many friends, colleagues and much admired but never met writers have sat at this same desk, looking out at the same old tree stump collecting moss. Playwrights sure... including past Senior Playwrights in Residence Daniel MacIvor and Vern Thiessen and another playwright from this year’s Colony Colleen Wagner, but also novelists, poets, screenwriters, non fiction writers, travel writers. There is something in reading those missives and encouragement to future writers and adding my own name and small message to the end that seems like an important step in my ongoing journey of feeling less fraudulent as a writer, more confident that I have chosen the right path and that it has indeed chosen me. Reading one writers droll scrawl “I was not the smartest person in the room. And I was alone.” made me smile. Fellow traveller. Passing poet CA Conrad’s studio the other day and seeing his snowman made me smile too. Whimsy is alive and well in these woods. Something much missed Tom Hendry, playwright, mentor and Colony champion would have appreciated. I’ve thought of him many times here.

I hosted my first play.write.night evening at my Studio this past Wednesday. Fellow playwrights Wanda Graham, Greg MacArthur, Anita Majumdar and Emily Pearlman visited and we ate, drank and talked late into the night. I am looking forward to hosting my next play.write.night next week when the second wave of artists hits the Colony along with special guest, playwright and former Theatre Arts Director John Murrell, as we expand joyously into a larger, more boisterous form. Magic.

From the woods,
Mieko

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