The Play’s the Thing

If you’re one of the many Yukon writers currently trying to churn out 50,000 words within 30 days as part of National Novel Writing Month, you may be wondering why on earth you ever decided to write a novel.

The idea of writing short stories, poems or perhaps plays instead might be looking increasingly attractive.

If that’s the case, why not go down to Well-Read Books in Whitehorse on Thursday, Nov. 27 and find out about the Playwrights’ Guild of Canada, a national organization that has been advocating, supporting and promoting Canadian plays since 1972.

“Come and find out about the organization, share your work, enjoy refreshments and conversation,” says well-known Yukon playwright Celia McBride. She is the Guild’s Yukon rep and is organizing the information session.

McBride will be reading from one of her own plays at the event as part of the Guild’s Canada Council Reading Series.

She will also be talking about why she’s a member of the Guild and what being a member can mean for writers.

McBride says she enjoys writing plays in particular because: “I like dialogue. I’m good at it. It comes naturally to me.”

She also has some advice for aspiring playwrights: “If you have the desire to write a play, give it a try. Read how-to books. Listen to how people speak. Study the art of writing dramatic action. Go for it.”

As for playwrights she would recommend to would-be dramatists, McBride says: “Ibsen is the master. Beckett is a wonder. Stoppard, Shepard, Mamet are more contemporary masters.”

McBride’s own play, So Many Doors, in which she also acts, is touring Ontario in January, followed by performances in New Brunswick in February and Yellowknife in May.

As many Yukoners will know, So Many Doors is produced by Sour Brides Theatre, a Yukon-based company set up and run by McBride and her fellow actor and playwright Moira Sauer.

McBride’s plays have also been produced by theatre companies in Toronto, Montréal, New York, Ireland and Paris.

The Playwrights’ Guild of Canada helps writers by holding workshops and master classes on topics ranging from writing grant applications and sending out scripts to researching theatres and getting an agent.

The Guild also runs the Copyscript program which distributes unpublished, professionally produced plays and publishes the Directory of Canadian Plays and Playwrights, CanPlay magazine and a monthly e-bulletin.

Truman Capote said that “Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.” If he is to be believed then perhaps anyone can draw on their own experience and learn how to write a play.

To find out more about the Nov. 27 session, e-mail McBride at [email protected]

For more information about the Playwrights’ Guild of Canada, go to and to find out about McBride’s own work visit

And if anyone is wondering what’s happened to Nakai Theatre’s regular 24-Hour Playwriting Competition, which usually takes place in Whitehorse around this time of year, it’s been moved to April 3 to 4, 2009.

PHOTO: RICK MASSIE [email protected]

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