If you are susceptible to the perception that we are a country of people who play it safe; Colleen Murphy is the kind of person who reminds us that Canadian’s can be cool.
Her life is anything but normal and she’s artistic to boot. She has created films, written books and plays, and she even has an opera under her belt.
She has two new plays that are premiering this year: Armstrong’s War and Pig Girl. Armstrong’s War is about an unlikely friendship that develops between an Afghanistan war vet and a 12-year-old Girl Guide. It will soon be in production in Vancouver. Pig Girl is loosely based on the Robert Pickton murders and will soon be playing in Edmonton.
This summer Colleen Murphy, who lives in Toronto, was the writer-in-residence at Berton House in Dawson City.
“Pierre Berton has left a fine legacy in Berton House which is very important to writers in Canada,” she says. “My time here has allowed me to get a huge chunk of work done on a couple of plays. It breaks my heart to think I am leaving next week, but I have a feeling I will be back.”
Before she leaves, she’ll be reading from her work and discussing playwriting on Sept. 18 at the Dawson City Community Library and on Sept. 19 at the Whitehorse Public Library.
I sat down with her for a further discussion about her time in Dawson City.
RW: I’m surprised you got anything done – the weather this summer was amazing.
CM: It was an amazing summer, amazing weather. I did head up the Dempster. We camped at Rock River and went to the Arctic Circle. I also got a chance to travel the Top of the World Highway. Being on the ground in the North is profound. It allows for a mind-body experience that has given me a much richer perspective of what the North means and this will affect my work.
RW: You must travel around a lot in your line of work. Was this your first time up North?
CM: Actually I grew up in a small northern town in Ontario and I have been to Whitehorse before. I love the north. Part of being a playwright is moving around from place to place and picking up work and doing a whole variety of creative things.
RW: So it is no surprise your work is so wide ranging. Is there any thread that connects everything?
CM: I am a creature of my time. The world, the country that I live in affects me and I write about those things that are meaningful to me. Some of those things are dark, and some not so much, but the themes are both contemporary and timeless.
You can meet Murphy face to face before she heads off on her next creative adventure. She will be reading at the library in Dawson on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. and at the library in Whitehorse on Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Gwaandak Theatre is also hosting A Conversation about Drama with Murphy, at 5:30 p.m. — prior to the Whitehorse reading.