Telling Epic Stories with Marjorie Chan

Season 1 | Episode 4
53m | Nov 23, 2021

In this episode, I meet Toronto-based playwright and librettist Marjorie Chan. Best known for her epic dramas focusing on Chinese history, including; China Doll, A Nanking Winter, and The Madness of the Square, Marjorie is also the Artistic Director of Toronto's Theatre Passe Muraille - Canada’s original alternative theatre. We talk about her practice and process and how she balances artistic leadership with a prolific writing career.

Words of Wisdom

Marjorie Chan on making time to write... "I think it comes to the urgency of the stories I want to tell. When I feel that urgency, whether that’s because a story is timely to me, or it has an emotional urgency... I figure out a way to move it forward and tell it. I always advise when I talk to writers… if you’ve carved yourself out forty minutes, then make sure for those forty minutes you’re at the very least thinking about your work. You might be researching and not actively putting words on a page, but that’s the time you’ve given yourself, so you better take it".

Conversation Highlights & Links

  • [03:03] Welcoming back audiences and online offerings
  • [05:40] Juggling a writing life and artistic leadership
  • [09:55] Finding the right space to write
  • [13:12] Epic stories and how to tackle them
  • [17:35] Finding the form of A Nanking Winter
  • [20:15] Reimaging Cao Yu's Sunrise
  • [24:50] China Doll - from China to Canada... and back again
  • [34:17] Making opera accessible with M'dea Undone
  • [37:27] What on earth is a 'cell phone play'?
  • [40:41] Audience Accessibility at Toronto's 'theatre beyond walls' 

Connect with Marjorie

Connect with Paul

Next time...

I talk to Gary Goldstein, a successful screenwriter and playwright, celebrating the publication of his debut novel. Gary Goldstein. Be sure to follow or subscribe and we'll let you know when the next episode is published.

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