Mieko Ouchi - Mieko

The Bully Project - Alberta School Tour

on April 20, 2014
in Blog

Produced by Concrete Theatre, the Junior High version of my new TYA play debuted this spring touring  to Junior Highs across Alberta from March 31 to April 29, 2014.  A participatory play for teens that explores the issue of bullying, the play has benefited from some amazing support. The script was a commission from Concrete and the pilot tour received a very generous grant from the Edmonton Community Foundation. 

As director, I was so lucky to be able to assemble the “A” team of artists, actors Sheldon Elter, Jenny McKillop and Carmela Sison, and stage manager Dawn Friesen. Caroline Howarth worked as the dramaturg on the script, and it was great to have her as a co-conspirator on the project. Concrete was also very happy to have the assistance of Tracy Muth, a registered psychologist with Elk Island Public Schools in Sherwood Park, Alberta who offered lots of help and support and wrote our Teacher’s Guide.

This upcoming fall, a second version of the play, written especially for Elementary School students grades 4-6, will premiere in rep with the Junior High Version. This second pilot tour is also supported by a generous grant from the Edmonton Community Foundation and will be produced by Concrete.

 

Retreating.... Banff

on April 06, 2014
in Blog

Once again, I feel like the luckiest gal on the planet, having had a glorious week at Banff at the Playwrights Colony. This time the colony intersected with an amazing gathering of Aboriginal artists and their collaborators at The Summit, I was able to see lots of old friends and meet some new ones as we elbowed each other at the salad bar including Ryan Cunningham, Herbie Barnes and Yvette Nolan as well as Adrienne Wong and Nathan Medd, Jillian Keiley and Sarah Garton Stanley!  I was also able to meet and hang out with the amazing playwright Bryony Lavery and the multi-talented dramaturg Ruth Little, both from the U.K. Brilliant hilarious women, both of them... and so inspiring. 

I am finishing up the first draft of MAKEPEACE, which explores the first democratic election in Iraq after the U.S. Invasion in 2005 from the perspective of a Canadian, based on the first hand experience of my father in law Michael Clegg. It is slow going as I attempt to pull the final threads of the story together, but it was wonderful to get a chance to put in some time on that last few delicate scenes and hear the new work read out by the team of actors, with the addition of some great actor/playwrights who volunteered to read some extra parts... thanks Marjorie Chan and Pamela Sinha :  )

Sitting in my room looking out my patio doors at the mountains I am once again reminded of what a magical place Banff is and how thankful I am for all the artists and administrators who have fought to keep this little gem accessible for playwrights. Thanks to all of them who put their passion and talents towards this goal... especially Tom Hendry, Sharon Pollock, John Murrell, Kim McCaw, Linda Gaboriau, Maureen Labonté, Keith Turnbull, Bob White, Vicki Stroich and now Brian Quirt...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

The Red Priest Redux

on May 01, 2014
in Blog

What a great experience to get to see my play 10 years after its premiere at ATP’s playRites Festival!

Vanessa and her team did a top-notch job on the show, and I am so pleased that so many family, friends, colleagues and Calgarians came out to see the production. I so appreciate the support that I get in my second homes... ATP and Calgary!

Interesting to see the relevance of Vivaldi’s discussion of how precarious it is to be a freelance artist reflected in the Calgary Herald in an op-ed about public vs private funding of the arts.  Although I don’t agree with Chris Nelson’s premise that the rich should pay for the arts rather than the taxpayer, it’s great to see the play be a part of the public discourse.

Special shout out to Ashley Wright who stepped in at the last minute to take on the role of Vivaldi once again. It was fantastic to see him from the audience perspective this time. It brought back lots of wonderful memories of our time together performing the show in Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto back in 2003 and 2004.

https://vimeo.com/93553475

Residency - Stratford Playwrights Retreat

on August 15, 2014
in Blog

I am so happy to be returning to the Festival, this time to spend three weeks at the Playwrights Retreat under the gentle and wise guidance of the Director of New Plays, Bob White and with the fantastic support of the Special Projects Coordinator, Liz Sheffield.  I am spending my time here working on my new play MAKEPEACE as well as putting the final touches on the Elementary school adaptation of THE BULLY PROJECT for Concrete Theatre. 

When I’m not seeing some of the incredible 12 plays the Festival is offering this season, I am joining playwrights from across Canada including Jessica Anderson, Briana Brown, Rob Kempson, Jordi Mand, Jeff Pitcher, Beatriz Pizano and Michele Riml in dinners, breakfasts and discussions about our ongoing work and new play development in Canada.

Sept 8-28, 2014

Stratford Festival

Stratford, ON
www.stratfordfestival.ca 

World Theatre Day CANADIAN MESSAGE

on March 27, 2015
in Blog

 

I was honored to be asked to write the World Theatre Day Message for Canada by PACT, the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres for this year’s world wide celebration of theatre. Here’s what I wrote:

The world we are living in today, is a place in deep flux. One that feels increasingly uncertain and precarious.  Power is shifting. Economies are rupturing. We are confronted by unthinkable acts of inhumanity. And while on some fronts concepts of equality are moving forward, in other ways we are increasingly being pushed backward into separate and potentially more extreme corners by forces on many sides. Into perilous ideas of Us and Them.  Right and Wrong. Black and White.

Faced with this stark reality, we can find ourselves wondering at the purpose of art.  The purpose of theatre. And yet, isn’t this a time when theatre might be needed more than ever? 

For we in the theatre understand deeply that no human is one thing alone. Drama shows us again and again that we are made up of many selves and wear many different identities. That we can be, and indeed already are, simultaneously part of multiple groups and communities. This recognition of the complex intersection of who we are is a powerful idea, and one that allows us the empathy and compassion to see ourselves in others.

That is something worth sharing.

In professional theatre spaces, community halls, meeting rooms, school gyms and drama rooms, daycares and seniors centres, outdoor parks, streets and found spaces... indeed any place that even a single performer and a single audience member can gather, theatre can offer a potent and powerful moment of communion and connection for the performers and viewers watching the same human experience acted out before them. That is what theatre does best.

And that is something worth pursuing.

In a time when some are fighting to erect boundaries or guard the ones already in place, we have the opportunity, if we take up the cause, to use art, empowerment and solidarity, as our answer to those who would see the rest of the world live only as they do.  To anyone who would stand in the way of a fellow human claiming an equal and respected place at the table. To people who would deny any one of us the opportunity to be who we were born as or who we wish to be. Who we truly are. Freedom of speech and self expression are not things we can ever take for granted.

They are worth standing up for.

But to do these things, to be needed and relevant, it will require us to look inward and confront our own biases and assumptions. To look outward and challenge ourselves to give voice to the width and breadth of all perspectives we need to move forward. The confronting viewpoints we need to push ourselves to ask the most difficult of questions.  It will take conscious effort to dissolve old walls and glass ceilings. To welcome everyone in.

But we are not alone in this struggle. Each and every one of us who counts themselves a member of the Theatre family, is also a member of a universal and ancient clan of tricksters and clowns. Of singers and dancers. Of storytellers and artists. Of provocateurs and historians. Traced in a continuous line back to the very beginnings of human existence. Who have always used their voices and bodies, their ideas and stories, to entertain, divert, energize, enlighten, expose, educate, ignite, prod, criticize, provoke and challenge. A group who have used their collective power to bring people together. To change people’s minds. To transform the world.

That is something to be proud of.

 

The Tashme Project: The Living Archives

on April 01, 2015
in Blog

I am thrilled to be working with creator/actors Julie Tamiko Manning and Matt Miwa on the premiere of their beautiful verbatim play THE TASHME PROJECT. Years in development, the play documents the story of their families and their time in the Tashme Internment Camp in BC and what came after for them after moving to Eastern Canada.

The piece is presented at the MAI with set and costume design by James Lavoie (Laurence Mongeau), sound design by Patrick Andrew Boivin and video design by Patrick Andrew Boivin and George Allister, with lighting design by David Perrault Ninacs. The piece is overseen by stage manager Merissa Tordjman and technical director Tristynn Duheme.

May 7-17, 2015

MAI (Montreal arts interculturels)

Montreal, QC

www.thetashmeproject.com

 

image courtesy of The Tashme Project.

I Am For You

on November 29, 2013
in Blog

Produced by Concrete Theatre, my new TYA play will debut this fall. A play for teens about girls and stage fighting, the play has already benefited from some amazing support. I was thrilled to receive the Enbridge Award for Established Canadian Playwright from ATP in Calgary in early 2013, Alberta to help cover my time working on the first draft, the Banff Centre for the Arts generously gave me time and space to work on the draft and hear a reading during the 2013 Playwrights Colony and the NotaBle Acts Theatre Festival in Fredericton, New Brunswick gave me a multi-day workshop featuring Theatre New Brunswick’s Artistic Producer Caleb Marshall to further develop this draft, culminating in a staged reading July 28th, 2013. And now… Concrete is premiering it! For more information check out the full description of the play on my Playwriting page or follow this link to Concrete Theatre.

Latest Blog Posts

  • The Tashme Project: The Living Archives

    I am thrilled to be working with creator/actors Julie Tamiko Manning and Matt Miwa on the premiere of their beautiful verbatim play THE TASHME PROJECT.…
  • World Theatre Day CANADIAN MESSAGE

      I was honored to be asked to write the World Theatre Day Message for Canada by PACT, the Professional Association of Canadian Theatres for…
  • Residency - Stratford Playwrights Retreat

    I am so happy to be returning to the Festival, this time to spend three weeks at the Playwrights Retreat under the gentle and wise…
  • The Red Priest Redux

    What a great experience to get to see my play 10 years after its premiere at ATP’s playRites Festival! Vanessa and her team did a…
View all