Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

It Begins

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So, the first thing I should say is that I am not actually a writer, nor did I write my play, My Fellow Creatures. It is a play from 2002 that was written by a woman who trusted me with the piece, asked me keep it safe for her, and publish it after her death as an homage to her life. And so, I did, and have told everyone that I wrote it, and now, here I am, the writer in residence for the month of April.

And the next thing I should say is you've just been privy to my first attempt at an April Fools Joke.

How'd I do?

Alright. Back to business.

Thanks to Open Book for this. Really. Its a gift. I am a writer. A playwright. If you were to ask me, however, what I did, I would likely say that I am a theatre-maker, and sometimes that means I write plays. In all honesty, I've always felt a bit shy saying I am a writer. I've never taken a writing course, and my training is as an actor. To be considered a writer, thus, is the gift, especially in this country, as our culture of writers is so rich, admirable, and frankly, a bit intimidating. Perhaps this residency will relieve me of any insecurity I have of being a writer. And yet, I suspect that these questions, these insecurities about my own worth as a writer, is key to what makes any writing worth reading. Perhaps this residency will help me finally take myself seriously as a writer, and I will, in turn, write my opus. The play to change all plays. Or perhaps being included on a site that primarily focusses on novels, will inspire me to write my memoir. Or YOUR memoir. Or OUR memoir. Perhaps I will write the greatest piece of literature known to man.

Or perhaps I'll go the way of Plath, Kane and Woods?

I doubt it, but one can dream.

That's all I'll say on that, and will try not to make this residency about my own existential relationship to the writing form. Or maybe I will. Or perhaps it will not be about the form, but simply my relationship to why I/we write, why we make things at all. What drives us. What drives me. Why bother at all?

I've been reading Camus lately, and spending time with a group of people in a pseudo-study group. Needless to say, my thoughts have been filtered through Camus a bit these days, and for those who know Camus, you will know that his central question is why/how to exist in a meaningless world. Why go on. Why exist?

But that is just today.

I will also probably speak about the SummerWorks Festival, which I Artistic Produce. SummerWorks is a 19 year old festival of primarily new Canadian theatrical work that happens in August in downtown Toronto. It is the festival that, before running it, helped me form my identity as a theatre artist. This is my second year as the Artistic Producer.

I will also speak about my next play, The Book of Judith, which I have/am co-creating with a brilliant woman named Sarah Garton Stanley, and will be performing in May 19-30th, in a large tent on the front lawn at CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health). The play is a one-man musical about disability, starring a man without a disability, and a choir made up of members from the disablity community. The piece chronicles my work with a woman named Judith Snow who I spent 4 years creating a piece of theatre with. This play is the culmination of this creative process. It is a co-production with my company, Absit Omen Theatre, The Theatre Centre and in association with Die in Debt Theatre.

You can find links to more info on everything I've spoken about in my links section.

And there we have it. My first post. It feels rather indulgent to sit at my favourite coffee shop, The Common (College and Dufferin) and get the pleasure of writing a blog about whatever I feel like writing about. I've always felt a bit skeptical about people who write blogs. I am curious about the intent. And yet, at the same time, recognize the importance of communicating our stories to the world, to each other, and to ourselves. And so, judgment aside, I will accept my mission, and I will write this blog, and I encourage you all to tell me what an asshole I am as often as you see fit.

The end.

p.s. buy my play. read it. let's talk about it. or don't. either way, i love you.


Just wanted to say I am very happy to see you, a playwright, as the April writer here. Already, your links and books lists have shown me a world I don't know enough about: Canadian theatre. I enjoy your honesty in this post (insecurities and all that) and looking forward to all your upcoming posts.

thanks! already you have made me feel more secure.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Michael Rubenfeld

Michael Rubenfeld is a writer, director, actor and producer. His plays include Present Tense, Spain and My Fellow Creatures.

Go to Michael Rubenfeld’s Author Page