A behind-the-scenes-look at the craziness and joy of planning an arts festival
In this episode, Ron Mackay writes about submitting a play for The Festival of the Arts — while on the run.
Writing drama is a lonely occupation.
A neglected deadline for The Festival of the Arts (FOTA) adds pressure.
Air, rail and bus schedules have snatched priority. Viviana and I are travelling: Amsterdam for grandchildren; Tenerife in the Canary Islands to launch a book; then Scotland and England to visit extended family.
Travel is no excuse?
Hmmm! Maybe launching a book is. Because I wrote it in Spanish, not my native English.
“A Tenerife con Cariño” is an affectionate memory of a 15th C village. Stranded penniless in the Canaries en route to Argentina in 1960, I worked on banana plantations; learned Spanish; made friends; became a villager, remained a year.
Out of gratitude, “Fortunate Isle” appeared in 2017.
“It’s not in Spanish!” Native Tinerfeños scolded me roundly.
So, I rewrote it, in Spanish: “A Tenerife con Cariño”. To thank them.
Viviana corrected my grammatical errors; Carlos and Eva made sure that the lexicon was authentically Canary.
Now we’re in Tenerife to launch it.
But that FOTA deadline! It must be met!
In a rented apartment in Buenavista del Norte we carve out time and rebuff all invitations.
We warn multiple neighbors who share the Internet signal with us that we need clear lines.
I scan scanty files on my laptop.
Disaster! No “Ten-Minute Plays” file! It’s on my desk-top computer back in Ontario.
Viviana comes to my rescue. “You offered samples to Marie-Lynne Hammond, in December 2018, when she encouraged SOTH’s Writers’ Group to rise to the ten-minute play challenge.”
“But I delete old emails!”
Viviana commands my laptop. Clicks.
“Einstein’s Fridge” imagines a 1940’s meeting in the US between the great scientist and the illegitimate daughter he abandoned in 1902. She needs to connect to the father she has never known.
Marie-Lynn has warned me against having my Einstein use an overly inverted Germanic syntax.
I’ve learned to listen to what experienced readers have to say. Drama does not reside in slavish authenticity.
By morning’s end, it’s done. Einstein employs sound English grammar.
The second play, “Anthem”, recalls a scene I remember on the great expanse of sand just below the Old Course at St Andrews. WWII had just ended. Our Scottish men were still overseas. Polish troops were being readied for their return to Poland. Many to their deaths at the hands of Stalin’s communists.
My mother was saying goodbye to Major Bruno Kanik, an officer who had been billeted in our village in Perthshire. Although I was only three, I sensed, without knowing why, that the leave-taking held a deep meaning for both of them.
“Anthem” was so titled for the stirring Polish national anthem “Marsz, marsz, Dąbrowski”. I revised it after a scripted reading at The Theatre on King in Peterborough, Ontario. I look at Marie-Lynne’s valid criticisms and agree. But, “Anthem” will have to stand or fall on its current merit and without revisions.
Two submissions sent. The FOTA ten-minute play deadline met.
Now, back to that book launch!