From April 25 to 30, The Cultch was taken over by eager and energetic youth for the IGNITE! Youth Festival. Hundreds of youth from across the Lower Mainland came together for a week of amazing performances. We caught up with youth playwright Chris Nyarady about the experience of seeing his play Hide and Go Sell performed on The Cultch stage. Check out what he had to say about the process of writing, re-writing and finally seeing nearly four years of work come together for the first time.
By Chris Nyarady
I don’t claim to know everything about writing, but from what I’ve experienced so far, writing is like hunting a giant mythological creature. You want to believe you’re after something amazing and one of a kind. You might have an idea of what you’re after, but you don’t know for sure. It’s all purely speculation. Hell, what you’re after might not even exist at all, but damn it, you’ve got your mission, and you’re going to see it through. As you write/hunt, you begin to find out more about your prey. Perhaps it confirms what you already thought, but sometimes you make some startling discoveries. This creature that you thought had a horn, actually had two. And wings powerful enough to create localized tornadoes! Damn! Didn’t see that one coming. A big change, but nevertheless, the hunt must continue.
I had been hunting my script, Hide and Go Sell, since 2008, and believe me, it went through some radical metamorphoses. What started as a simple examination of the power of advertisements turned into a semi-spy thriller/comedy with a rather sombre ending. All of this even before I heard of IGNITE! and The Cultch.
At one point, the trail had gotten cold on my mythological creature hunt. I was close, so close, but somehow that tricky devil had eluded me. Luckily, I happened to be part of an organization called PARC (Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre) that sent a weekly newsletter. I owe a lot to them for helping me further my career as a young playwright, and for alerting me of IGNITE! and The Cultch. The hunt was back on.
The Youth Festival was an amazing experience from beginning to end, and I’m so glad that I was chosen to be part of it. The IGNITE! Mentorship Program was incredibly useful, if not a bit difficult to organise, on my part. Living across the country in Halifax, I was the only playwright in the program who did not reside in Vancouver, so that meant a lot of telephone calls and Skype meetings throughout the year. A special thanks to my mentor, Michele Riml, for helping me work and re-work the script. I saw so many things about my work I never had before, and slowly but surely that mythical creature created itself! But the breakthrough for me came the night I was Skyping in for a read-through of the scripts. Suddenly I knew my prey…or at least I thought…
After I finished what I thought would be my final draft, I handed the script over to my wonderful director, Ingrid Nilson. As I was so far away, it was pretty much impossible for me to take part in rehearsal, but wanting to take part, I made my way over to the West Coast for the tail end of the rehearsal period. Once again, my mythological creation had changed. Part of what I love about the theatre is that one script can be taken in so many ways, something as a young playwright I still find fascinating. What Ingrid and her incredibly talented cast did was wonderful and at some moments surprising! There were so many moments and even jokes that I didn’t see in my original script that those brilliant people found. I loved it; it made me seem much more clever than I thought, which I’m always a fan of.
Seeing my play performed at The Cultch made me wonder, had my hunt been successful? Am I now a metaphorical master of cryptozoology? Well, yes and no. I’m incredibly proud of this show, and thank everyone who put time and effort into it. But something tells me this was only the beginning of the chase. My examination into a spy-filled world of advertisements resulted in one glorious hunt, but who knows, the next production of Hide and Go Sell may result in an entirely different creature. What turned out to be a griffin this time may turn out to be a sphinx next time. And that, to me, is exciting.
And now if you’ll excuse me, all this talk of mythical creatures gave me a great idea for my next script. The hunt continues!