Pat The Dog Theatre Creation | #SmelterSpeak – Interview with Playwright BRIGITTE GALL
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#SmelterSpeak – Interview with Playwright BRIGITTE GALL

#SmelterSpeak – Interview with Playwright BRIGITTE GALL

For #PlaySmelter 2017, we’re interviewing some of the great actors, writers, designers, producers, and key creatives involved in building our annual festival of new work.

Brigitte Gall is a Playwright whose latest play, Pakistani Sugar, will receive a staged reading at #PlaySmelter. An award winning Performer, Writer, and Producer, she has completed 52 episodes of the Gemini nominated design and renovation television series Me, My House and I, and 52 episodes of the travel/lifestyle show, The World’s Greatest Spas, covering 3 countries in 4 years (aired on W Network, Discovery Channel USA/Latin America, and in 85 other countries).

Gall is the proud owner of a Gemini award for her one woman show Joan of Montreal, a Gemini nod for her dramatic turn as a serial killer for the series Blue Murder, a Genie (Moving Day), a Golden Sheaf (Twisted Sheets), and Gold at the Houston Film and Television festival (Joan of Montreal).

She has been the Keynote Speaker and Guest Speaker for numerous fundraising galas and events sharing her experiences of growing up in the small farming community of Creelman, Saskatchewan to living in Toronto and Ottawa working as a female comic, performer, writer & producer. When not working or writing, she can be found burning hotdogs over the campfire with her husband Michael and their two daughters on the banks of the Gull River in Minden Hills, Ontario.

1. You have a lot of experience in stand-up comedy, a style of performance that usually takes the form of humorous personal anecdotes. Did that help prepare you for what you’re doing in Pakistani Sugar?

Absolutely.  Comedy often provides the muscle needed to open some very sticky doors.  If you look at what a lot of comedic performers are doing today – they’re tackling very large, very sensitive issues of discrimination, violence, gun control, cultural norms that don’t serve us etc.  By using observation, the craft of story-telling and comedy, I can find my way into the heart of this story and open the door wide enough to take the audience with me

2. Your piece centres on the cultural shock you experienced at eighteen, after moving from a hamlet in Saskatchewan to a village in Pakistan. It’s a story of transformation from ignorance to awakening. Have there been any challenges in revisiting this earlier version of Brigitte? Is she someone you left behind in the past, or has she stayed with you as your life took a cosmopolitan turn (e.g., working in arts and entertainment, living in Toronto, etc.)?  

I refer to myself in this piece as The White Trash Bingo Queen.  There are moments in this show that, as a person living in a very sheltered, very small community, I’m embarrassed to admit I was. My hope is to take that transformative experience and share that in a humorous way with audiences.  This is a small flashlight on a very dark corner.  I’m hoping that this piece will encourage more people to turn their flashlights on.

3. Have you worked with a dramaturg before? What prompted you to reach out to Pat the Dog, and what has that process been like for you?

I haven’t had the opportunity to work with a dramaturg before.  Pakistani Sugar has lived in my head for over 20 years.  Because this piece is so close to the bone for me, I was very much aware that I needed the help of gentle hands and strong arms to help me pull this story up.  
I met Lisa at a SPARC (Supporting Arts in Rural Communities) conference.  When she told me briefly what she did, and what Pat The Dog Theatre Creation does I thought – wellllll how do you like that?!  Fate??  So I sent an email and shared what I was working on and asked for her thoughts.  She encouraged me to apply for a Ontario Arts Council Theatre Creator grant through Pat The Dog.  I was over the moon to be awarded a grant to begin working on writing and crafting Pakistani Sugar. That grant gave me enough breathing room to set aside three weeks for solid writing without having to worry that I wasn’t working to pay bills.  
Lisa has been an incredibly encouraging, positive force.  She is aware and respectful of the process of creating new work because, in part, she has a unique vantage point as a dramaturg in that, she is also a producer, writer, performer, and founding artistic director of Pat The Dog Theatre creation.  Plus, she’s got a great sense of humour – which for me, for this work – is a huge, huge plus.

To see a full #PlaySmelter festival schedule and to purchase tickets, click the button below!