Silver Commission playwright, Shawn Macdonald
Our new production, Sister Judy is a labour of love, not only for the playwright Shawn Macdonald, but also for all of us here at the Arts Club. It’s the latest of our Silver Commissions to make it to the stage—meaning we’ve been with Shawn providing artistic support and financial backing from the beginning.
Shawn was one of four playwrights to be approached in 2006—the program’s inaugural year—by our artistic managing director Bill Millerd. Founded by then-chair Stan Hamilton, the aim of the Silver Commissions is to give local playwrights the opportunity to explore and develop new works.
Each year, Bill works closely with Rachel Ditor (our literary manager) to hand-pick both new and established Vancouver-based playwrights to continue to expand the program. Rachel closely works with them throughout the process. Stan, as founder, is also deeply involved, and he and his wife Kathy have been instrumental in providing key funding.
Almost eight years in the making, Sister Judy has gone through rewrites, extensive work-shopping and several public readings to arrive at the place of a final draft; then hire a director, go through casting, start rehearsals, and rewrite some more! Developing a new play is a deeply collaborative process and an exhilarating one. Shawn has been on a very profound journey: hearing his play spoken by the actors for the first time and seeing it interpreted by director Patrick McDonald, a long-time collaborator. Audiences to Sister Judy will also be able to experience this thrill.
Since it’s inception, six plays from the Silver Commissions have been brought to the stage. These include:
Henry and Alice: Into the Wild, Michele Riml’s comedic sequel to Sexy Laundry, that has gone on to tour with the Arts Club.
Beverley Elliott, Andrew Wheeler, and Susinn McFarlen in Henry and Alice: Into the Wild
Veda Hille and Bill Richardson’s musical comedy Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata has enjoyed runs across Canada, and was recently optioned for off-Broadway.
Bree Greig, Selina Martin, Dmitry Chepovetsky in Do You Want What I Have Got? A Craigslist Cantata. Photo David Cooper
The holiday favourite, The Patron Saint of Stanley Park, by Hiro Kanagawa continues to grow in popularity with several remounts since its premiere in 2010.
Eight plays are currently in the works through the project, including a new play by Nicola Cavendish, kindly supported by board member Bonnie Mah, as well as John Mann’s The Waiting Room, Dorothy Dittrich’s The Piano Teacher, and Mark Leiren-Young’s The Free Press. With a couple of new commissions kicking off each year, you’re sure to see many home grown premieres in the years to come!
You too can support Silver Commissions by being one of the first-in-line to see Shawn Macdonald’s Sister Judy! You can also find out more about donating to New Play Development on our website.