Adventures of a Canadian Theatre Gypsy


Fall Newsletter 2013


Talking to Terrorists

Dear Friends

The East 15 year started up again as we welcomed artists from Brazil, Sweden, China, U.S.A., Ireland and few fellow Canucks to our International group of directors.

The first module of the MFA in Theatre Direction this year was Contemporary British Theatre lead by Anthony Clark (former Artistic Director of The Hamstead Theatre and a leader in British new play development). In a roller coaster ride from the 1980’s to the present, we studied the works of Caryl Churchill, David Hare, Alan Ayckbourn, Harold Pinter, Mark Ravenhill, Jim Cartwright, Martin Crimp, Moira Buffini, debbie tucker green, Sarah Kane and Jez Butterworth.


Talking to Terrorists: U.V.F. and P.K.K.

Guest speakers and workshop leaders included Chris Campbell on New Play Development (Royal Court Literary Manager), Aleks Sierz (Theatre Critic and author of In Yer Face Drama), David Jackson on Active Analysis (Russian Stanislavsky System) and Director Simon Usher (RSC) on approaching new plays.

The module provided the opportunity to compare and contrast not only the contemporary UK works with contemporary Canadian works, but also the new play development practices and the ecologies that allow the work. The module finished with scene presentations of drawn from contemporary British plays with the East 15 third year BA Acting students. I tackled Robin Soan’s 2005 Verbatim piece Talking to Terrorists.

Creation, Devising and New Play Development:
Devising and Creation: The Elephant and the Goldfish, you&i Theatre

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The Elephant + the Goldfish: The Glove Lady enters James Tilley’s dreams

October provided the opportunity to hit the rehearsal hall working as dramaturge/ director with Vancouver artists Ming Hudson and Kevin Kraussler in London.

The two week workshop was dedicated to creation and devising inspired by Paranoid Schizophrenia. Utilising physical theatre, improvisation, song, puppetry, sound tech. and verbatim text, we explored the illness, developed characters and the potential staging and play structure for the work in progress in an effort to understand the disease from the survivor’s, care giver’s and the disease itself’s perspectives.

A huge thanks to who contributed to the Indie-gogo Campaign and the East 15 Acting School for providing rehearsal space.

Research and Development: Storm Cloud

I was also privileged to join actor Guy Burges on a research and development period on his play Storm Cloud, tackling what it means to be multi-racial and British and the history of Immigration to the UK.


Screaming Locomotive logoManaging to straddle “the pond” and maintain a dedication to Canadian new works the last few months has included supportive dramaturgy for:

  • Chose but Chose Wisely by Jeff Culbert
  • The Folio by Kim Renolds
  • Pain Waiting by Karl O’Brien
  • Richard 3 by Thys Heydenrych (Free State, South Africa)
  • Meet Your Meat by Michael Charrois

If you are looking for supportive dramaturgy at any phase of development, contact me at

Up Next: The Pitmen Painters in Vancouver


Coal-Face Drawers by Oliver Kilbourn

And last but not least, I just got off the plane back in Vancouver to direct at United Players. A huge thanks to the company for this opportunity to come home and work on a beautiful play. I’m looking forward to the adventure.

The Pitmen Painters
by Lee Hall
Inspired by a book by William Feaver .

Winner of the Evening Standard Award for Best New Play

In 1934, a group of Ashington miners hired a professor to teach an art appreciation evening class. Rapidly abandoning theory in favour of practice, the pitmen began to paint – prolifically. Within a few years avant-garde artists became their friends and their work was acquired by prestigious collectors; but every day they continued to work, as before, down the mine.

‘Lee Hall’s superb play… richly funny, deeply moving and continuously entertaining.’
Daily Telegraph

See you at the theatre!
Jack Paterson


Summer Newsletter: East 15, BoucheWHACKED! and more

969514_490611891010692_1385253187_nA Season at East 15

It’s been a busy couple month since the last missive.

I’ve wrapped up my first year in the MFA in Theatre Direction International at East 15. It’s been a great year that has finished on a high note The Physical Theatre module. Lead by Robin Guiver (Warhorse) and Heriberto Montalban from LISPA was an intensive in Lecoq, Physical and Movement Theatre Performance (including Laban and Viewpoints), Mask, Puppetry, Choral Work and Devising. Master classes were led by some of the UK’s exciting independent theatre devisers including Will Pinchin and Dorie Kinnear from Grafted Cede (The Odyssey), Allel Nedjari from Gecko Theatre (The Arab and the Jew) and Jennifer Pearcy-Edwards, Infectious Theatre.

This was an opportunity to not only revisit my past physical theatre training under Moni Yakim (Circle in the Square, Head of Movement at Julliard) with fresh eyes, but the opportunity to dive into new ideas and further the physical practice in my work. This was a rich and wonderful module and a great way to end the year. My final project included a biobox (Thanks you Theatre Replacement!), physical audience interaction and open space technology in performance in a living gallery.

After four years on the road exploring the diverse practices in the Canadian landscape, East 15 has been a the chance to put it all into perspective while using these experiences as a launch pad to further develop past practices and explore new possibilities in the work. The season’s modules included Shakespeare, Adaptation, Artistic Director and Physical Theatre with each providing new insight, new understandings and opening to push my practice to places it hasn’t gone before.

geeAfter a season at East 15, I can only say it was the right thing to do. It’s hard to top things like the knowledge gained simply by standing on the Globe Theatre (Ohh that’s what he’s talking about!), the opportunity to see large theatre in a variety of forms from The Tricycle Theatre to The National and The Young Vic or the innovative touring national and international companies in action. Or master classes with artists Artists like Lucy Bailey (English National Opera), Michael Pennington (Royal Shakespeare Company), Mike Alfreds (Shared Experience) and Robin Soans (Talking to Terrorists).

The Shakespeare Module was the opportunity to revisit a first love. This included excursions with The Globe Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company and an exploration of contemporary and classical British approaches and methods to classical theatre. My final project was exploration combining Neil Freeman’s First Folio work along with Cecil Barry and movement work in a development of Choral creation. In a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, four actors played Oberon in a literal presentation of the King of “Shadows”; splitting apart, speaking in separate voices, overlapping and joining again around Puck.

The Adaptation Module was the opportunity to strengthen both my dramaturgy base and delve deeper into the worlds of adaptation and new play development and creation. The final projects teamed up with the MFA International Actors providing to be a perfect opportunity to tackle multi-lingual and multi-disciplinary work. In a devised piece, I and my actors explored the relationship between direct human communication and texting using viewpoints, clown and a modern dance to a reading of GUAN SUI of The Book of Songs.

adaptOne of the modules unique of East 15 was The Artistic Director Module. Led by Anthony Clark (Hampstead Theatre), this was a very interesting door into the UK theatre ecology. Building on the my own past experience in theatre production and my 2011/2012 Three Company, Three Provinces, Three Mandates AD Mentorship, this was the chance to compare to current Canadian models with its British counterparts. Funding, management, development and governance were discussed extensively along with explorations of both small and large scale production, development models from other nations, marketing, touring and multiple season budgets. The final project was a three year business plan and budget based on one of my favorite venues in Vancouver.

As is true of any artistic undertaking, one of the most exciting and beneficial elements of this MFA is the artists you get to work with. Here, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with artists from across the globe, from the UK, Iran, Hong Kong, Romania, Brazil, South Korea, etc. with each bringing unique backgrounds, practices and ideas to the table. It continues to be an eye opening and gratifying adventure.

BoucheWHACKED! Theatre Collective

logoMeanwhile back in Vancouver, BoucheWHACKED! Theatre Collective, led by Jessie Award winner France Perras and me, continued our dedication to bring contemporary francophone work in translation to the west coast audience with our second Ta Gueule Staged Reading Series.

Hosted by the rEvolver Festival and The Cultch, BoucheWHACKED! presented another successful series with some of Vancouver’s leading talent.

PorcupicThe first presentation of the series was Prix Michel-Tremblay and the 2010 Governor General Award winner PORCUPINE (PORC-ÉPIC) by David Paquet and translated by Maurine Labonté. Directed by Rachel Peake, humour, poetry and tragedy combined in Cassandra’s desperate hunt for party guests on her birthday. Featuring Josette Jorge, Jesse Martyn, France Perras, Michael Rinaldi, Stacie Steadman and Jonathan Winsby.  We were also thrilled to welcome playwright David Paquet all the way from Montreal for this English Language premiere.

This was followed by a workshop and reading of local bilingual theatre artist Gilles Poulin-Denis’ Governor General Award nominee REARVIEW. Dramaturged and directed by PTC’s Heidi Taylor and featured David Mott, REARVIEW was an exciting journey down a road without destination into the night and self.

Special Thanks to Ashby House B&B, Le Centre des Auteurs Dramatique, The Electric Company and The Progress Lab, PI Theatre, PTC, Theatre Conspiracy, UpintheAir Theatre, BC Arts Council and all the artists involved.

New Works, Play Development and Translation

Back on the other side of the world, BoucheWHACKED! joined forces with East 15 on workshopping our first “in house” translation translated by yours truly.

NvnWrksGroupShotNous voir nous
By Guillaume Corbeil
Translated by Jack Paterson

In a blend of facebook, poetry and in-yer-face theatre, five characters present their lives and relationships through a series of social networking websites. Scene after scene, they shape and reshape their identities, seeking to prove their own uniqueness.

In 2008, Guillaume Corbeil published a collection of stories entitled L’art dela fugue (éditions L’Instant Même); He has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s award and was awarded the Prix Adrienne-Choquette. In September 2009, his first novel, Pleurer comme dans les films, was published by Leméac. He has also written a biography of Director André Brassard. In 2011, he finished training in playwriting at the national theatre school of the Canada. Since, for the scene he written sevral plays including Le Mécanicien, Tu iras la chercher et Nous voir nous, presented by PàP under the title Cinq visages pour Camille Brunelle.

A special thanks to the artist who joined our two workshops: Roman Blomme, Vanessa Buckly, Owen Clark, Ming Hudson, Kate Hunter, Aslam Husain, Courtney Larkin, Lorena de za Parra and Sigmond Varga.


Screaming Locomotive logoManaging to straddle “the pond” and maintain a dedication to Canadian new works the last month has included dramaturgy for:

  • Intrusion by emerging Vancouver playwright Veronique West (winner of the Tarragon 20/20 Playwriting Competition – Way to go Vee!)
  • Shine: A Burlesque Musical with Book by Sam Dulmage & Cass King and Lyrics and Music by John Woods and Cass King (The Wet Spots).

If you are looking for some dramaturgy at any phase of development, contact me at


998249_10152935143390646_1869175475_nI also recently joined forces with the East 15 MA in Filmmaking. The last few months have also included dramaturgy and the lead role in Eric Chu’s Choices as a man grapples with a choice of money and love.

And my first foray into screen writing and film direction. I joined director Da Teng in co-writing and co-directing his short film Fly. The story of the friendship between a fatherless boy, a man who doesn’t like kids and a Supermen action figure. A huge thank you to Ted and cast and crew!

Have a great summer and see you at the theatre!

Jack Paterson

Thoughts and Freebies
Click on the links for:

On Shakespeare

On Physical Theatre


CAEA Co-op Agreement Support Material

On Canadian Theatre

More Ted: Making Stories

Why Do Physical Theatre?

969514_490611891010692_1385253187_nThere are several arguments for why Physical Theatre has become such a popular force in modern theatre.

The use of instantly recognisable human behavior, codified to celebrate both our “common well” plus our individual and cultural differences creates a visceral communication.  With its roots deeply in ritual (one could even argue that ritual developed from early physical storytelling), the work taps into a basic human need.

Physical expression allows the material to transcend lingual barriers.  In the increasingly globalised and multi-cultural makeup of the modern western cities, this is an important factor to look at.  Further as market forces are driving small theatre (and this is a global phenomenon) to tour abroad, the ability to reach diverse audiences of various lingual and cultural backgrounds quickly and effectively is a necessity.

As the act of speaking is itself a physical action, one could argue that there is no such thing as a Non-Physical Theatre, simply degrees of how far one wants to go in practice.  The performance of a modern western text based play is still an act of physical theatre and all the rules governing it are just as valid.  We received information thought how the actors are positioned in space, what physical relationship exists between them, etc that is just as important, if not more so, than the spoken words.  In fact a well performed play can followed no matter what language it is in as long as the objectives are clear to the artists and the physical human behaviors are true.  This especially important in poetic texts where audiences may have a preconceived aversion to the textual material.

Further physical theatre is the logical evolution in Western Theatre, not only due to practical needs, but building from the past works of artists like Tyrone Guthery and Peter Brooks.  Both artists have a tremendous effect on modern theatre and both artists looked to the past for their inspirations; Guthrie looking to the Elizabethan bare stage and Brooks to traditional theatre practices from various cultures.  Both of these lead to Physical Theatre elements.

Another argument that can be made is simply theatre is regaining her rightful place.  As other mediums like film and TV succeed perhaps are even more successful, with dialogue and character based material, theatre is returning to her roots as a multi-disciplined practice that includes the physical.

Building an Ensemble

My personal definition of Ensemble is “a group of people wor945311_490612307677317_570514657_nking together towards a common goal.”

Having been a member of several successful ensembles and led my own, I have experienced the dedication, sacrifice and compromise made for a whole.  Sun Tzu in On The Art of War described bringing together soldiers on a desperate field.

“Place your army in deadly peril and it will survive; plunge it into desperate straits and it will come off in safety.”

Perhaps an extreme example, but the act of creating a successful army is no more than the act of uniting and bringing together separate people in common purpose.  At times, making ensemble based theatre can certainly feel like the life and death mortal peril of ancient hand to hand combat.  This is the energy behind ensemble work – the group need or desire to work together to make the work a reality.  This state of mind and conviction can only be there if the cause is well argued and lead and the artists willing.

Once the cause has been established and the army assembled, the development of training the ensemble to work together and breath together begins.  In small or profit share companies, there is always an advantage, as the artists who work in these mediums bring a dedication simply by being there. Artists who are working because they want to or out of a commitment to a cause, project or person are more willing to risk – in fact that is usually why they are there.  Within the more traditional ecology, a greater effort has to be made to inspire and earn this dedication and trust.

This challenge can be addressed by creating a common drive.  Phrasing such as “How can we…” ,done with confidence in the artists, over “I need you to…”, make a huge difference in allowing the artist ownership over their work and, as a result, encourages them to bring choices in.  Permission to fail spectacularly also allows not only the director but the cast the opportunity to explore.  Clear goals for the day or rehearsal period shared with the group allow a sense of teamwork to develop and unity in accomplishing the goals.  In past productions such as The Tempest, Titus Andronicus or The Odyssey, I have also deliberately come in with difficult sections of the plays or ideas to tackle as a cast.  Although prepared with at least two solutions in the back pocket, the group work has invariable proved to create a more interesting result and has had the added benefit of offering up a challenge that, through working together, allowed a greater sense of teamwork to develop.

Once the mission is agreed on, creating a common language and breathing together are probably the two most important physical elements in Ensemble.  Fortunately these can be done together.  Actors often don’t realise the difference between a production where they have warmed up together and one where they haven’t when from the outside it is unmistakable.  By starting all group rehearsal with games and movement work we have the opportunity to instil the sense of “complicate”. The exercises chosen can also reflect what explorations we may be looking to do for as a director.  In smaller rehearsal, as not full group, abbreviated versions of these same games and exercises can be used to get people breathing together and maintain the Ensemble feel – although not together they are continuing a practice that is subconsciously related to the group or, if full cast work has not been possible yet, it provides a common language created separately and allows the ensemble to form quicker when finally pulled together. Practically we have prepared a series of codes and tools that everybody knows and can use; personally they can bond in joy for this game or hatred for that one.  It is a method to bring people of diverse practices, educations and experiences onto the same page and working from the same physical blueprint.  Both Viewpoints and Laban Work can prove very useful in this work.

Maintaining a malleable structure also helps provide support and a free rehearsal hall.  Easing the artists into a safe place to risk through ensemble exercises and warming them down at the end of day with conversation and discussion allows the “we know more or less how the day will begin and how it will end” safety and permission for the volatile nature of creation to happen in between.

Maintaining the Ensemble through the run is another challenge.  Group warm ups are always encouraged, but many artists prefer to have a private warm up.  By assigning the running of various group elements (this is easier if you have dance or fight elements that MUST be run for safety), one brings the company together in movement and breathing prior to the evenings performance.

Nous voir nous UK Translation Workshop

NvnWrksGroupShotSunday May 19, 2013
BoucheWHACKED! Theatre Collective
Nous voir nous Translation Workshop
by Guillaume Corbeil
Translated by Jack Paterson
Workshop artists: Roman Blomme, Owen Clark, Ming Hudson & Courtney Larkin

About the Play:
Cinq personnages se présentent aux spectateurs et font le spectacle de leur existence à la manière des sites Internet de réseautage. Scène aprèsscène, ils façonnent leurs identités différemment et cherchent à prouver l’unicité de leur moi.

Five characters reveal their lives and relationships though a series of social networking websites. Scene after scene, they shape and reshape their identities, seeking to prove their own uniqueness.

About the Playwright: Guillaume Corbeil
En 2008, Guillaume Corbeil présente un recueil de nouvelles intitulé L’art dela fugue (éditions L’Instant Même) ; il a été en lice pour les prix du Gouverneur général et a reçu le prix Adrienne-Choquette. Son premier roman, Pleurer comme dans les films, est paru chez Leméac en septembre 2009. Il a aussi signé une biographie du metteur en scène André Brassard. En 2011, il terminait une formation en écriture dramatique à l’École nationale de théâtre du Canada. Depuis, pour la scène il a signé les textes Le Mécanicien, Tu iras la chercher et Nous voir nous, présenté par le PàP sous le titre Cinq visages pour Camille Brunelle.

In 2008, Guillaume Corbeil presents a collection of stories entitled L’art dela fugue (éditions L’Instant Même); He has been shortlisted for the Governor General’s award and was awarded the Prix Adrienne-Choquette. In September 2009, his first novel, Pleurer comme dans les films, was published by Leméac. He has also written a biography of Director André Brassard. In 2011, he finished training in playwriting at the national theatre school of the Canada. Since, for the scene he written sevral plays including Le Mécanicien, Tu iras la chercher et Nous voir nous, presented by PàP under the title Cinq visages pour Camille Brunelle.

About BoucheWHACKED!
Définition – Le Petit Larousse:
un défrichage de nouveau territoire théâtral basé dans la langue, région de la bouche.

English Translation:
breaking new theatrical ground and uncovering new territory in the tongue/language area.

BoucheWHACKED! Theatre Collective is a Vancouver based artistic collective made up of working theatre professionals dedicated to the development, production and presentation of multi language works, cross disciplinary arts and works in translation. With a specific focus on cross pollination between Francophone and Anglophone works, through translation, BoucheWHACKED! showcases the daring contemporary works of both artistic populations to local audiences and brings awareness to the thriving talent that exists in two communities separated by distance, language and culture.  Production include the instillation of the West Coast English language premiere The List, The Ta Gueule Staged Reading Series: Howl Red by Etienne Lepage, Porcupine by David Paquet & Rearview by Gilles Poulin-Denis.

Come Get BoucheWHACKED! (Vancouver)

logoBoucheWHACKED! Theatre Collective and The rEvolver Arts Festival presents:
Contemporary Francophone Plays in Translation

rEvolver Arts Festival, The Cultch ● 1895 Venables St.
Pay What You Can at the Door

220by140PorcRevSaturday, May 18th, 4:30pm – The Culture Lab
By David Paquet
Translated by Maurine Labonté
Staged by Rachel Peake*

Featuring Josette Jorge, Jesse Matyn*, France Perras*, Michael Rinaldi*‏, Stacie Steadman* and Jonathan Winsby*

On her birthday, Cassandra wants to be beautiful, funny and popular. So begins a desperate hunt for party guests, from the staff at the corner store to strangers on the street. Humour and poetry combine in as people clash and make love in this 2010 Governor General Award winning play. Step one – Balloons.

*Appears courtesy of Canadian Actors Equity

220 by140 David PaquetSaturday, May 18th, 6:30pm – The Wine Bar
Meet the new generation of francophone writers

David Paquet won a Governor General Award with his first play, Porc-épic. After productions in Mexico and Europe, it made an acclaimed appearance at L’Espace Go in Montreal in 2010. The same year, Paquet’s play for adolescents, 2 h 14 AM/FM, winner of the Le théâtre jeune publique et la relève competition, was presented at Maison Théâtre directed by Claude Poissant. David Paquet is interested in stories, whether they are told through slam, storytelling or poetry. He is a graduate in playwriting from the National Theatre School.

220 by140 RearviewSunday, May 19th, 4:30pm – The Culture Lab
Written and translated by Gilles Poulin-Denis
Staged by Heidi Taylor

Featuring Dave Mott

A hard-hitting “road-play” by Vancouver playwright Gilles Poulin-Denis. Guy is on the road and on the run. But what is he running from? A petty crime? Ghosts? His own life? This Governor General Award nominee is a fascinating and lyrical journey into the night.

BoucheWHACKED Logo Strip

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