Interview with Bed & Breakfast playwright and actor Mark Crawford and director Ashlie Corcoran
Mark Crawford: So Ashlie, you used to be Artistic Director of Thousand Islands Playhouse in Gananoque, and now you hold that position at Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre Company. This means in the last year, you’ve made a move opposite of Brett and Drew’s: from small town to big city. What things do you love about urban life? And what do you miss about living in Gananoque?
Ashlie Corcoran: The move to Vancouver was a really personal one, and the motivation is similar to Brett and Drew – searching for a home. I am originally from BC, and my entire family lives in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island. This move brought me back to them. Of course, the urban offerings of diverse food, entertainment, and arts and culture is also pretty exciting!! I miss Gananoque for many reasons – my gorgeous heritage home, being a 5 minute walk from the St. Lawrence River, and the incredible team at the Thousand Islands Playhouse. You recently moved from a big city to a small town (Stratford) yourself. What has surprised you most by this move?
MC: One big surprise is how quickly you can get things done in a small town! Life generally moves at a slower pace in Stratford, but the farthest end of town is seven minutes away and there’s no traffic or line-ups to deal with. I can run a bunch of errands in one hour that would take half the day in Toronto. (Also, I’m pretty surprised by how much I don’t miss the city!) Sticking with this theme of place: we first did Bed and Breakfast in Gananoque and we’ve taken this production to Montreal, Victoria, and now Ottawa. As a director, how do you think location influences a play’s meaning or impacts an audience’s experience?
AC: I love theatre because at its core, it is a conversation between performers and audience members. So yes, I’ve found that an audience’s experiences and knowledge do change the way they engage with a piece of theatre. However, one of the reasons I adore Bed & Breakfast is because it is incredibly accessible; it is very human to want to find community. Therefore, while this production will have been done in three very different locations (small town Ontario, cosmopolitan Montreal, and stunning Victoria), I believe the themes resonate in each place. As a playwright, how much do you think about the location when you are writing a new work?
MC: I think about location a lot! Getting very specific about the location of a play helps me to be more specific about everything else: characters, dialogue, story, theme. A few years ago, I was in a production of The Winter’s Tale. That play starts in the Palace of Sicilia, then moves to a sheep farm in Bohemia, and goes back to Sicilia for the end. Location has an enormous effect on every aspect of that play; moving from one place to the other changes the genre from tragedy to comedy. It was a great lesson in playwriting from that Shakespeare guy. I’m looking forward to finding out what specific moments or lines work a bit differently in front of an Ottawa audience. I really love this city. It’s wonderful to be here with this show!