“I pick scenes with action, conflict, maybe even some blood and guts,” playwright Paul MacDougall says about his choice of material when he reads in front of an audience. “I always aim to read with a dramatic flair in an effort to entertain the audience and make them interested in my work.”
MacDougall, and fellow playwright Bev Brett, will be presenting some of their newer work at the final Governors Writers’ Pub of this series on Tuesday, April 16, at 7pm.
As well as writing award-winning plays, MacDougall also wrote Distinction Earned, a well-received history of boxing in Cape Breton. Brett is Artistic Director of the St. Ann’s Bay Players and has written numerous plays including The Margaret and Out The Meadow.
For his contribution to the Writers’ Pub, MacDougall is bringing members of his writing class from Cape Breton University’s Seniors’ College. They, with several other classmates, will read some of their own work during the evening’s Open Stage program.
Brett is bringing an excerpt from two new pieces: a work on addictions and a celebration of the history of the Gaelic College in St. Ann’s. Brett worked on both plays during some recent time visiting New Zealand and says that along with having time to work on her writing, writing in New Zealand had other benefits.
“For the Gaelic College piece–it put me in the same historical world, as I was working on the same historical story, only from a very different perspective,” Brett says. “Distance is good and so was getting out of my every day routine.”
Along with MacDougall’s writing students, the other confirmed group participating in the Open Stage is the cast from Shakespearean Idol, a reality show parody being prepped to tour local schools in the fall. The show, with a cast including George Mackenzie, Daniel Dobson, Eric Letcher, Bonnie MacLeod, Mark Delaney, Jenna Currie, and Mindy Carter, has a complete preview performance run at the CBU Boardmore Playhouse from Thursday, April 18, to Saturday, April 20, at 7pm.
MacDougall’s most recent play, The Venetian Gardens, won the prestigious Boardmore Trophy for Best New Original Script at The Elizabeth Boardmore One-Act Play Festival last month. He believes that this Writers’ Pub is a good way to commemorate the legacy of the Boardmores in the local theatre community, especially with the recent death of Harry Boardmore.
MacDougall feels he and everyone in Cape Breton theatre has a connection to the Boardmores’ work.
“I took introductory English Literature from Harry and an advanced literature course from Liz. Both had a passion for the written and spoken word. Harry was more paced, poetic and lyrical while Liz was brash and read with aplomb,” he recalls. “I never studied drama with them but saw most of their productions from the late seventies on. Their love and knowledge of the theatre is what helped make the Boardmore theatre what it is today.”
MacDougall adds, “Without them it never would have happened and countless Cape Breton artists probably would never have made it as far as they have, if at all. I feel quite lucky to be able to write plays, have them read and improved by more accomplished writers than myself, and eventually see them on the Boardmore stage and then throughout various halls and venues in Cape Breton. Without the Boardmores getting theatre established in Cape Breton so many decades ago I wouldn’t be writing and seeing produced what I do today. I’m ever so grateful for this.”