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Look Inside: 7 Questions With Beth Graham

October 25, 2016


Beth Graham is one of Canada’s most prolific playwrights, actors, and a long time collaborator with Catalyst. When she’s not hitting the stage with us in shows like Nevermore, Hunchback and The Blue Orphan she’s busy performing and writing for stages across the country. Most recently Beth received national attention for her award winning play The Gravitational Pull of Bernice Trimble, which premièred at Factory Theatre (with Obsidian Theatre), was a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and received the Gwen Pharis Ringwood Award.

As the co-writer of other award winning plays, such as The Drowning Girls, Beth is no stranger to collaborating with another playwright. So when Artistic Director Jonathan Christenson asked her to come on board as a co-writer for Fortune Falls, Beth was ready for the challenge.


What do you find the most intriguing part of the world of Fortune Falls?
The townspeople that make up Fortune Falls have been really fun to write. There’s so much to mine in the everyday lives of these characters.


Explain to us how being a co-writer works? We assume you don’t type on the same keyboard at the same time?
We talk. We each generate a megaton of writing. We assemble it. We talk some more. We each write a megaton more. Slowly, it builds and comes together. Jonathan is the lead creative so he has the final say and puts together the rehearsal draft. We talk about it as he builds that. Lots of back and forth.


How does your creative relationship with Jonathan change as you transition from an actor to a co-writer?
I don’t know! I guess I get to see how his mind works from a different angle. Every time you work with someone your relationship deepens. There was already a lot of trust and respect before we began and I feel like we’ve always been able to talk openly with each other. He’s a very collaborative director whether you’re working with him as an actor or as a writer.


How do you think Fortune Falls will surprise audiences?
I think it’s surprising because it’s hard to define- in a good way. I think and hope it will be unlike anything they’ve seen before- an original!


You have a lot of experience with Catalyst, and have travelled a lot with the company. Do you have a favourite moment?
There are a ton of favourite moments… If I had to choose one I think it was after we opened Nevermore at the Barbican. We had four hours of tech which was such madness. It seemed an impossible feat but the ensemble was so tight. We were flying by the seat of our pants for the whole show but we knew that if our pants ripped there was someone who was going to catch us. When we took our bows at the end of the show I didn’t know whether to faint or scream my head off. I was so relieved and elated. Talk about an adrenalin rush!


What’s your favourite Canadian play? (Or top three if one is too hard).
I’ve always loved Les Belles Soeurs and The Glace Bay Miner’s Museum. Recently, I loved reading The History of Breathing by Daniel Macdonald.


Favourite kind of chocolate?
I loooove macaroons! Chocolate and coconut = scrumptious!


A little self promotion: what else do you have going on this season that audiences may like to check out?
I’m acting in A Christmas Carol coming up at the Citadel.