Thursday, January 29, 2009
On Thursday, we headed out to the Distillery District just east of downtown. The place in and of itself is really interesting--a former distillery, one of North America's largest--that's not been turned into shops, restaurants, galleries, artist's studio and performance venues. (Similar in some ways it seems to what they've done at the former Lorton Prison in Virginia.)
Our meeting today was with Brian Quirt, the Artistic Director of Nightswimming. His company, founded in 1994, focuses almost entirely on the dramaturgical process. Brian said that after initially self-producing some full productions he realized that there were a lot of components to producing that he just didn't find satisfying. He then set out to create a company where he could do just what he loved most working with a play and playwright from the very beginning, helping to shape a piece--on the playwright's own timeline--and then helping to find that piece a home at another company that will produce it. It seems they've tackling some really fascinating work with great success.
Their current venture is a 7-play cycle called THE CITY OF WINE. Written over a 15 year period the plays follow the 7 generations of the citizens of Thebes. In the last 3 years, Nightswimming has partnered with seven universities all across Canada to workshop, and ultimately produce each of these pieces. Later this month they're bringing all seven groups to Toronto to stage their pieces here and then, ideally will find a future home in which all seven plays can be professionally produced. I think we both found Brian's work and his vision fascinating. He's found a way to truly revolutionize the way playwrights and theatres work together and seems to be providing a really essential service.