Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Live! The Bob Shivery Show!

The Bob Shivery Show is settling comfortably into its three week run at Calgary's Lunchbox Theatre. The intrepid Bob Shivery embarks on a perilous quest to Calgary to rescue the girl of this dreams from the clutches of a Calgary oil man and, as ever, highjinks ensue.

Mr. Shivery on the world wide web:

The Lunchbox Theatre website

Calgary Sun article by Louis Hobson "Shivery Show a Showdown in Love"

Downtown Calgary article: "The Bob Shivery Show all about the journey for love"

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Funny you should write that

“This world is a comedy to those that think and a tragedy to those that feel," wrote Horace Walpole, 18th century man of letters and author of The Castle of Otranto, often hailed as the first gothic novel. Walpole’s epigram appears on my manager’s screen saver on the rare occasion when her computer lies dormant. My performance appraisal may reveal what the boss thinks and feels about me, and my guess is that both laughter and tears are involved. And as you live and work, so shall you write.

I believe that compelling writing is composed of a quicksilver mix of comedy and tragedy, each dependent on the other for full effect. Success is all in the chemistry. You can’t compromise on either ingredient, going for the easy yuk or the overwrought sob, or you’ll end up with an unpalatable mess. If your writing is too formulaic, mixing smiles and frowns in predictable amounts, you risk ending up with a perfectly straight face. You might as well watch Peter Mansbridge – who, I will admit, does occasionally sport a dry smirk. 

In my book, a writer should embrace the duality of comedy and tragedy and channel the tension between the two for full effect – the highs and the lows, the laughter and the tears duking it out all over the page. When it hits your gut, it’s gotta feel real. Add in some believable characters, place them in ridiculous and/or heart-rending situations, and provide them with a dignity and humanity that keeps the reader turning the page, and you’ve got ’er built.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The post to start all posts

And so at St. Peter's Abbey, at the height of a hot, hot summer day, another blog springs from God's green earth, sustained by hope and fertilizer. My postings to The Opposite of Work will document my travails as a playwright, but I wouldn't rule out the occasional digression into semi-related territory.

The canola is high and the wifi ain't spry, and I'm making steady progress on Tulipomania, one of the two plays I'm currently working on.

I've been pondering a quote from Aristotle via the Playwrights Guild of Canada as I tear down and rebuild NOT's dramatic engine:

"If you string together a set of speeches expressive of character, and well finished in point and diction and thought, you will not produce the essential tragic effect nearly so well as with a play which, however deficient in these respects, yet has a plot and artistically constructed incidents." -Aristotle, Poetics

The balancing of Aristotle's elements and the achievement of the essential tragic (or in my case, comedic) effect will happily occupy me for the rest of my days. In the early drafting stage, my characters tend to sit around metaphorically, having coffee and rubbing the sleep from their eyes - not the most stirring of scenarios. It's up to me to clap my hands and get them up on their feet so they're actually doing something. And when my brain and Internet Explorer (remember, the wifi ain't spry) both start spinning their wheels, I just pack it in and go for a bike ride.